Art Briles coached Josh Gordon at Baylor. He helped Gordon on the field, and he helped Gordon off the field.
But now, Gordon needs to help himself.
The Cleveland Browns wide receiver could be suspended for the entire 2014 season, this after a series of failed drug tests and alcohol-related incidents.
“The thing that’s hard for a lot of us to relate to is that we’re normal people,” Briles said. “I’m a normal person. Robert Griffin’s not normal. Josh Gordon’s not normal. So when you grow up and live a non-normal life, a lot of times it’s hard for us normal people to see and understand why those things are going on. Josh is as gifted a receiver as I’ve ever been around. I’ve been around some great ones. He’s (up) there, and he’s extremely intelligent and extremely compassionate. He’s got a great heart and a great soul. He’s just got a problem that he’s got to get control of before he allows it to control his life completely.”
“The thing about Josh that gives me hope is that he’s still young,” Briles continued. “Josh just turned (23) years old, so he’s still got a great future in front of him. That’s the great part about it. The past may scar you. It may hurt. But it can’t determine you always.”
Gordon was the only receiver in the NFL to finish with 1,500+ receiving yards last season. In fact, he finished with 1,646 yards – despite playing just 14 games.
That’s what Briles means when he calls Gordon “not normal.”
“Fast guys, they’re different,” Briles said. “When you can outrun somebody every time you get on the field, when you can jump higher than somebody every time you go (to) the gym – it’s just sometimes hard for those guys to be normal. They haven’t had to process normality throughout their lives. I’m a little more understanding because I’m around guys that have that freakish ability. It’s our job, I think, as a normal person to help them understand, ‘Here’s how the world works. Here’s what you’ve got to adhere to (in order) to have a chance to be successful.’”
Baylor, meanwhile, has a chance to be successful this fall. The Bears are coming off an impressive 11-2 season and will begin play in McLane Stadium, a new on-campus facility.
Needless to say, expectations are high – and Briles is excited.
“The great thing about me is I’m always excited,” he said. “I think that’s why I’ve been able to stay in the sport for so long. I’ve always had an unblemished degree of hope and vision and faith. So we’ve always been excited every year. This year is extremely exciting because we have an opportunity to protect our Big 12 championship. We do have the new stadium on the river, which will be as unique an atmosphere as anybody will have in the United States of America. So we have a lot of great things going on.”
“But it’s still all about people,” Briles continued. “Our players like being here. They don’t walk around on egg shells. They trust us. We trust them. And we have an opportunity to go out and go to battle with them on Saturday afternoons, and that’s a great feeling as a coach.”