Last Updated: 20/12/18 4:33pm
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon says he is stepping away from the sport in order to focus on his mental health.
Gordon, who was traded to the Patriots from the Cleveland Browns at the beginning of the season, announced his decision on social media on Thursday morning.
The 27-year-old said his decision was spurred by him feeling recently that he could have a better grasp on things mentally. He thanked the Patriots for their support and vowed to work his way back.
The Patriots said in a statement: “We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health. His attempt to do so is a private matter, which we intend to respect.”
Gordon has been suspended multiple times by the NFL for violations of its drug policies since being drafted by the Browns in 2012. Any sort of violation of NFL substance abuse policy could lead to a lifetime ban.
He missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Prior to trading Gordon, Browns officials said they felt it was time to cut ties with him.
Gordon had an All-Pro season in 2013, with 87 receptions for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns. He has caught 40 passes for 720 yards and three touchdowns since joining New England.
Without Gordon, the Patriots have no recognisable lead receiver. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has not been his All-Pro self due to injuries, but is third on the team with 45 catches and three scores.
The news comes as the Patriots make a push for another playoff run at 9-5 and coming off of a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which the New England offense managed only 10 points. In three of the team’s five losses this season, the Patriots have scored just 10 points.