September 1, 2014

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Browns: Josh Gordon booked for driving while intoxicated charge

Josh Gordon can’t stay out of trouble, and it may cost him his NFL career.

Cleveland’s All-Pro receiver was arrested early Saturday morning in Raleigh, North Carolina, and charged with driving while impaired. It’s the latest off-field incident for the ultra-talented player who faced a possible indefinite suspension from the NFL even before the arrest.

Gordon was pulled over just before 3 a.m. for going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone, Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue said. Sughrue wouldn’t reveal what sobriety tests Gordon was administered but said the arresting officer “developed sufficient probable cause” to make the DWI arrest.

Gordon’s blood-alcohol level was .09, according to the citation obtained by WNCN-TV in North Carolina. The legal limit is .08.

Gordon, 23, admitted to drinking three mixed drinks with vodka, the station reported, citing court documents. Gordon had to surrender his license and can’t drive in North Carolina for 30 days.

“We are aware of the matter and are disappointed to learn of this situation,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement. “We will comment further at the appropriate time.”

The front office and coaching staff have been preparing for life without Gordon for months.

ESPN reported in May that Gordon failed a marijuana test and faces a suspension. He has an appeal hearing with the league scheduled for late-July, Profootballtalk.com reported last week.

When Gordon returned from a two-game suspension last season he admitted to being in stage 3 of the league’s substance abuse program, which meant the next violation would bring an indefinite suspension. He wouldn’t be eligible to apply for reinstatement for a year.

Gordon’s last two holiday weekends can’t help his case with Commissioner Roger Goodell, who’s made it a priority to reduce drunk driving among players. Gordon was stopped for speeding Memorial Day weekend and a passenger was cited for marijuana possession.

Now the DWI charge.

Gordon was taken to the Wake County Detention Center, Sughrue said. Haydn Patrick “Fats” Thomas posted a $500 bond, according to the court documents obtained by WNCN. Gordon’s court date was set for Aug. 26.

Thomas is a convicted felon who pleaded guilty to drug and weapons charges in November, including possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was linked to rental cars driven by University of North Carolina basketball player P.J. Hairston during traffic stops.

“If you’re close to Josh Gordon please help this kid, it’s not about football anymore it’s about picking up the pieces of his life,” former Browns teammate and captain D’Qwell Jackson tweeted.

If Gordon is suspended indefinitely, he would be forbidden from practicing and being involved with the team. That could prove detrimental for a player who acknowledged last season he needed the structure of a football season to keep him focused and on the right path.

“Seriously praying for Josh Gordon,” former teammate and fellow receiver Mohamed Massaquoi tweeted.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus declined to comment.

Gordon entered the league with baggage and serious questions about his off-field behavior, yet former Browns general manager Tom Heckert took him in the second round of the 2012 supplemental draft. Gordon failed multiple marijuana tests in college and had been kicked off teams at Baylor and Utah.

Gordon largely avoided trouble as a rookie, then was suspended for the first two games of 2013 — and fined four game checks — for violating the league’s drug policy. Gordon blamed codeine in a prescribed cough medicine.

He was stopped for multiple traffic violations in 2013, but put together one of the best receiving years in league history in only 14 games. He set a franchise record with a league-high 1,646 receiving yards on 87 catches with nine touchdowns. In two seasons, he has 137 catches for 2,451 yards and 14 touchdowns and was voted the No. 16 player in the league on an NFL Network countdown.

The Browns would struggle to replace Gordon’s production. Receivers Andrew Hawkins, Nate Burleson, Miles Austin and Charles Johnson would be asked to pick up the slack, along with Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron.

“In time, it’s no different than if a player was going out during the offseason and broke an ankle or tore an ACL playing pickup hoops or doing something different,” Farmer said in May. “We have to build a football team that can win regardless of who is missing.”

Contact Scott Petrak at (440) 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.