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Ex-Browns employee details Josh Gordon's difficulties

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Aaron Shea was the Browns' director of player engagement during Josh Gordon's first two seasons, and though his name was rarely mentioned outside of a six-year playing career, he illustrates the importance of jobs at every level in the NFL locker room.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Shea talked about the difficulty of earning Gordon's respect, and what a delicate balance it was between being a disciplinary figure and friend and losing him completely.

As an official who frequently acted as the liaison between player and coach, it was Shea's job to get Gordon to pay attention and show up on time.

"If you come in hard right away, you shut him down," Shea said. "But if you come in and gain his respect, then after that, you can come in hard on him."

Shea added: "He's misunderstood. I can see why people are down on him. Josh really needs to grow up because this is it. He's heard that enough, but I think this is really, really it."

In one particularly jarring passage, Shea talked about pulling into the Browns' facility every morning just hoping that Gordon and Trent Richardson's cars were already there. If anything, he did not deserve to be let go when new general manager Ray Farmer took over. Shea deserved a promotion.

Though Gordon's dropoff cannot reasonably be blamed on a change at player engagement director, there's no way it helped to remove a figure who had Gordon's trust.

With the Browns scrambling to start yet another season -- Johnny Manziel is in treatment, Gordon is lost for another season and Brian Hoyer is debating whether he'd even come back -- they can use all the stabilizing factors they can find.

"I really hope for the best for Josh," Shea said. "But the way he played this year you could tell just by watching there was something clearly wrong with him."

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