TOP OF THE TOWN The strange case of Seattle wide receiver Josh Gordon is indeed weird, and it does ring a few bells for me. Gordon, whose nickname is Flash, as in Flash Gordon, has been suspended either by the NFL or his team eight times since being drafted in the second round of the draft by the Cleveland browns out of Baylor. The 6-3, 225-pound Gordon has a long history of being on the wrong side of the tracks, according to stories I have read. He started using in middle school, was kicked out of two middle schools for stealing electronics, had a basketball scholarship to a prep school but was caught smoking marijuana and was kicked out of the school, joined a gang at his next school and carried a gun while stealing cars, dealing drugs and doing over nefarious things. He continued doing drugs and that quicken by the time he left his teens. He had several scholarship offers to play football at major colleges, but could not live outside of Texas because he was on probation for a felony credit card theft, so he choose to play for Baylor. Gordon admits to making $10,000 a month selling marijuana while at Baylor, which eventually suspended him because of his drug use. Gordon actually transferred to Utah, but never played for the Utes, and returned back home to Houston where he started dealing again. The Browns took him in the 2012 supplemental draft and while with the Browns Gordon said he would drink some whiskey before each game to get his “motor running.” Even though he has admitted to being on something for every football game he has played, including college, Gordon was still an excellent wide receiver. The strange thing is Gordon knows what he does is wrong, but still does it. And he’s honest about what he has done. Despite all of this, teams were willing to take a chance on him. New England did. Seattle has. And now he has been set back once again, it is suspected, by using again even though he knows better and freely admits it. So I have to ask myself why would a gifted, talented athlete like Flash Gordon defy all logic, go against all that is right and do wrong even when he knows what will happen? Well, I have a personal experience with just this. No, not me. A friend. A close friend. This friend got to drinking and smoking when in high school and never stopped. I couldn’t stop him. He refused to do so and became a raging alcoholic. In the course of his short life he was sent by his employer eight times to Eastern Washington to a clinic to dry out. Eight times!!! There was no ninth time. They finally fired him. Later in his life, I discovered his dad, who taught high school chemistry and physics, was a recovered alcoholic. I frequently went to my friend’s house where he lived with his mother (the dad had since died). His mother was a sad figure. She rarely talked, never smiled, and the house felt like a dirty morgue. It was almost lifeless, no flowers, no beautiful designs in the house you would expect from a mother. I’m sure, looking back, that she had to have gone through hell with an alcoholic husband and now an alcoholic son. She was beaten down by them, it became obvious to me. All of this is related to addiction. Some people for whatever reason are addictive personalities likely because of chemical imbalance. The sad point about my friend, and this could be Gordon too, is he was very intelligent. Much smarter than me. But he couldn’t shake the addiction. Or didn’t want to. Either way it was sad to watch. As the years went by, I progressed to college, got married, raised a family, and became at least somewhat productive in society. On the other hand, my friend never progressed. His life was spent in a tavern. I would visit him every few years and each time the gap between us got larger and larger. He never left the late 1950s, stuck in time that never moved. Eventually our worlds could not coexist. He was like a clock that stopped working and I was a clock that kept on ticking. The last time I saw him we didn’t even talk. He saw me, stopped, took a drag on the cigarette hanging from his lips, turned around and disappeared into myth. I saw him one last time lying in his casket. He had died from cancer of the throat that went to his brain. On his death bed, moments before he took his last breath, he took one last drag on a cigarette and one last sip of a beer and left the world he had already left years before. That was almost 28 years ago and I still often think about him. He taught me how to play chess, although not well enough to beat him, and we both liked the same music and had the same sense of humor. What separated us was the addiction. He had it. I didn’t. I’m afraid Gordon is in the same boat as my late friend. He has an addiction that he can’t seem to beat. He is so gifted that teams have been willing to give him second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth chances. I wish him well. I hope he defeats this insidious disease. Okay, that is enough for today. Merry Christmas.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.