As the Cleveland Browns prepare for life without Josh Gordon, his teammates are tussling with conflicting emotions of compassion and betrayal on the heels of the star receiver's latest off-the-field slip.
That's the word from Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, who reported Wednesday that Browns players "realize Gordon is sick. They want him to get better. They like him. But some of them, clearly, also now want nothing to do with him."
One player told Freeman of a moment last season when the 23-year-old pass-catcher wrangled a small group of teammates in the locker room and vowed his battle with substance abuse was in the rear-view mirror.
"I want to promise you guys that I won't be in trouble again," Gordon said, according to the source.
Then came the positive drug test, followed by this past weekend's arrest on suspicion of DWI. Now the Pro Bowl wide receiver -- and his team -- await word from the league on a potential lengthy suspension.
The mess leaves Cleveland in a tough spot. While Gordon has lost the trust of his peers, cutting him makes zero sense for a team that isn't in position to shed league-leading receivers.
Gordon could miss the entire year and still return at the tender age of 24. If he gets his personal life back on track, front offices from east to west would swoop in to take a chance on such a rare talent.
"I cannot find a single team or league official who believes that Gordon will not play again," wrote Freeman.
While the Browns are deeply disappointed in Gordon, it's in the organization's best interest to wait this out. Watching the receiver resurface a year from now with the Steelers or Ravens or Bengals would mark a new low for a team that's seen too many dark days.