Joe Haden: We didn't know Josh Gordon wasn't allowed to drink

ByPat McManamon ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BEREA, Ohio -- Joe Haden said neither he nor his Browns teammates knew Josh Gordon was not permitted to drink when the wide receiver joined a group of players and one former assistant coach on a postseason jaunt to Las Vegas.

Gordon admitted in an open letter on Medium in January that his yearlong suspension for the 2015 season happened because he drank on the private plane; he wrote that he was tested shortly after the plane landed.

"Nobody was aware that he couldn't drink," Haden said emphatically Tuesday, speaking on the second day of the Browns' offseason workouts.

Haden and Gordon were joined on the Jan. 2 flight by teammates Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin and others and by former receivers coach Mike McDaniel. The group flew to Vegas shortly after the season ended for an MMA fight.

Gordon wrote that part of his confidential agreement with the NFL that allowed him to play the final six games of the 2014 season was not to drink. He wrote he thought the terms of the agreement ended after the season, so he had two beers and two other drinks on the flight.

But testing continued year-round.

"Listen, everybody is 21 years old," Haden said. "We're going to Vegas on a vacation. We know we can't do certain things, but we had no idea [Gordon] couldn't have a drink.

"If I knew he couldn't have a drink, everybody would have tried to ... you know what I'm saying ... it wouldn't have been that. Josh Gordon, he's a grown man and sometimes you got to know what decisions you make."

Haden said he did not think the alcohol ban was "fair" for Gordon.

"I didn't think it was fair that he couldn't drink," Haden said. "What was the problem? It is what it is. I didn't have [any] idea that he couldn't drink."

Haden and Gordon remain close. The two were joined recently by defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and linebacker Chris Kirksey at a pickup basketball game this week in Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb south of Cleveland.

"I keep in touch with him a lot," Haden said. "What we talk about, I just try to keep him positive and make sure he's got his stuff together."

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