New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon tweeted Thursday morning that he is temporarily stepping away from the football field to focus on his mental health.
"I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level," Gordon said. "I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health."
Gordon went on to thank coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and "countless others" within the Patriots organization for their continued support.
"I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path getting back to 100%," he added.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gordon has been returned to the reserve/commissioner suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the league's policy and program for substance abuse.
The Patriots issued a statement Thursday morning saying, "We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health. His attempt to do so is a private and personal matter, which we intend to respect." The statement did not address the news about Gordon's suspension.
In 11 games for the Patriots this year, Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards — the most on the team — to go along with three touchdowns.
The Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for Gordon in September. The deal came together just days after the Browns said they had reached a breaking point with the star wide receiver, who has been suspended numerous times by the NFL for drug violations since he was drafted in 2012.
Gordon's tantalizing talent led the Browns to hang onto him as he dealt with drug and alcohol dependence dating back to his teens.
In his second season, Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD catch against the Patriots, turning a short catch into an electrifying run on which he made New England's defenders appear to be standing still.
But that was in 2013, and Gordon has played in just 11 games since because of his off-field issues.
He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons for violating the league's substance abuse policy. After being reinstated by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, Gordon revealed in an interview with GQ magazine that he drank or used marijuana before games. "Probably every game of my career," he said.
Gordon also said in a 2017 mini-documentary on Uninterrupted.com that he took Xanax, cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics.
Belichick said last week that from a football standpoint Gordon was thriving, from developing chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady to learning the offensive system.
"He's a smart kid, so he learns well," Belichick said. "For better or worse, he's been in a lot of different systems. I know it was only one team, but it was a lot of different systems up there. Most everything we've asked him to do he's done somewhere along the line for somebody.
"As we go through each week, I would say we've gained a little more ground on the overall knowledge of the system. Not there but going in the right direction."
Gordon said earlier this month he thought he was settling in well with New England.
"It felt like home a long time ago," Gordon said. "The atmosphere is very welcoming. It took me a little bit to get acclimated to the area. Other than that, it's been pretty smooth so far, and that's due in part to the facility, the organization, just everybody helping me along the way."