BEREA, Ohio — Josh Gordon got back on the field before the NFL stopped him.
Gordon returned to training camp and practiced Monday as his appeal hearing with the NFL took place for a second day in New York. The Pro Bowl wide receiver ended his workout earlier than his teammates so he could participate in the hearing via teleconference with his legal team, which fought his potential one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Gordon’s hearing carried into Monday after the sides met for nearly 10 hours on Friday in Manhattan. Gordon’s lawyer, Maurice Suh, contends that the 23-year-old, who has a history of drug issues, tested positive for marijuana because of secondhand smoke. The hearing wrapped up shortly before 3 p.m.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said he did not expect an immediate resolution and did not know when there will be a ruling on Gordon’s case.
Until he’s told otherwise, Gordon intends to keep practicing. He missed two workouts last week as well as Saturday’s scrimmage in Akron, where Cleveland’s offense struggled without him.
For now, he’s free to play and the Browns are hoping that continues.
“It’s always special to have Josh out there,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “When Josh is out there, it’s like LeBron came back. He’s a big, big part of our offense and a really, really special player.”
Gordon’s situation has hung over the Browns for months, but there at least seems to be an ending in sight. Because he’s in Stage 3 of the league’s substance program, Gordon could receive a one-year suspension and would then have to apply for reinstatement with Commissioner Roger Goodell.
There’s a chance Gordon could get a reduced suspension, and he could be helped by the recent public outcry over the league’s handling of the case involving Baltimore running back Ray Rice, who was given a two-game suspension for domestic violence.
When he was in Canton last week for Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities, Goodell said he was not currently involved in Gordon’s case.
“At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved,” Goodell said. “When I am, I look forward to meeting with him.”
The Browns are eager for a final answer regarding their top playmaker.
Gordon emerged as one of the league’s biggest game-breaking threats last season. Despite being suspended two games and playing with three quarterbacks, Gordon still led the league with 1,646 yards receiving. He scored nine touchdowns and became the only player in league history to record consecutive 200-yard games.
He’s a playmaker, a difference maker and the Browns are hoping to have No. 12 at their disposal for as long as possible.
Browns wide receiver Nate Burleson said football is providing Gordon with a needed outlet during a difficult time.
Gordon needs the Browns as much as they need him.
“It’s kind of a sanctuary for him,” Burleson said. “He had a smile on his face and he cracked some jokes. I just like seeing him on the field. “There are certain guys that the league needs to have on the field and he’s one of them. He’s one of the more premiere talents in the NFL, so I hope that he’s in a Browns jersey this year.”
Cornerback Joe Haden, who is close with Gordon, said his younger teammate has been trying to stay upbeat.
“He’s doing the best he can,” Haden said. “He’s staying positive. At the same time, he has the support of us, his teammates. We’re like his family, so anything he needs he knows we’ve got him. He’s just trying to keep it as positive as he can.”