FOXBORO — Josh Gordon released a statement just a few days ago saying that he wouldn't be commenting on his past. He didn't want to open himself up in the media in that way, discussing what led him to be suspended, or what it was like to be away from football while his team won a Super Bowl, or if he thought he'd ever be back.
But on Sunday, as he helped the Patriots roll over the Steelers with three catches for 73 yards and a touchdown, Gordon looked to be back to the form that made him one of the most explosive players in the league a season ago.
Then in his first interaction with reporters since he was banned by the NFL in for violating its substance abuse policy late last season, he didn't hesitate to answer a question about his health.
Gordon's time at the podium is limited to a few questions. He can answer them as briefly as he chooses. But he seemed eager to share his progress.
"I'm doing very well," he said. "I'm extremely filled with gratitude every day, just enjoying myself. Coming inside this building, being with this family-oriented type of environment, and just doing what I love to do. There's nothing better than this, honestly. It's great."
There was some question last year as to how great it would be for Gordon to find himself in what's been described as a high-stress environment, playing for one of the most high-profile teams, for the most high-profile coach, and with the most high-profile quarterback in the game.
For someone who readily acknowledges that he has wrestled with his mental health, might football be the best thing for him?
While he admitted that last year was difficult, he seemed to answer that question affirmatively Sunday night.
"For me, initially it was a culture shock," Gordon said. "It was definitely different. I think as I grew in this environment and got to observe other young men move and organize and act professionally, expectations were high.
"It wasn't anything more than what I think they knew that they could do was being asked of them. I was like, 'Alright, this is the way it's done here.' I could either get with it, or look for a transition somewhere else. It's tough, but if this is what you want to do, I think this is the best place to be."
Gordon has always had the skill to make anyone believe that football is what he should do. But against the Steelers, he played like it was something he wanted to do.
He caught a shallow cross, jumped to hurdle a defender, bounced off, stuck his cleats in the ground, and chewed up the last few yards he needed to get into the end zone for his team's first touchdown of the season.
He sprinted past his defender in coverage — linebacker Vince Williams probably isn't thanking his coaching staff for putting him in that spot — for a 42-yard gain that ended with a high-impact collision and Gordon holding onto the football.
When friend and fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett scored his second touchdown of the night, Gordon was one of the first on the scene to celebrate.
There was a lot of that Sunday — the celebrating — between his teammates' big plays and his own.
"That was the main goal for me," he said, "just have as much fun as possible. Go as hard and put as much of myself out there as I possibly could, and I had a good time with it. That was my No. 1 objective."
Gordon ended up playing 45 snaps in all and was one of the team's top two wideouts to start the game along with Julian Edelman, working out of New England's various personnel packages.
How his usage is impacted by the arrival of Antonio Brown remains to be seen. Using them simultaneously, along with Edelman in three-receiver sets, gives the Patriots a level of talent that would qualify as an offensive coordinator's dream.
But Gordon knows, before any of that happens, that Brown is going to have to acclimate to a very unique work environment at One Patriot Place. He's been there.
"Antonio is Antonio," Gordon said. "He's going to have to figure out his own way, just like everybody else has."
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