Josh Gordon’s indefinite suspension and its effect on the New England Patriots‘ football prognosis both mean little in the grand scheme of things.
Riddick’s take might not be as initially important to Patriots fans left wondering how their team is going to respond to this latest challenge in a season marred by adversity, but it should be. Because at the end of the day, Gordon’s mental, physical, and emotional health as a human being far outweighs his contributing status as an NFL player.
Considering all the recent research and discoveries that have come to light regarding football’s links to CTE, suicide, and depression, it’s never been more imperative that even the most rabid sports fans take a step back – just like Josh Gordon did – and realign their priorities.
There’s an old saying that goes, “it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” In professional football, the grim reality is a player stands a 100% chance of getting hurt over the course of his career.
That’s the textbook definition of an ‘occupational hazard,’ and no one’s arguing that injuries aren’t an everyday part of the NFL; they come with the territory and they come with the job.
What we need to remember, however, is that players always have a choice. If they want to subject their body and brain to the rigorous toils associated with the gridiron, that is their right to do so. And we will thank them for it by tuning in on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
But if they elect to walk away from the game in the name of self-preservation, the last thing we should do is fault them for it.
That Josh Gordon may be self-destructive and his behavior may be damaging to his team is not necessarily up for debate. What is causing him to be that way, though – the hidden, underlying battles he is fighting with himself – that’s reason enough for us to practice empathy and see his situation in a new light.