Stephen A. Smith has a Josh Gordon take that no one likes
22nd December 2018

Never let it be said Stephen A. Smith failed to have an opinion.

This time, the controversial ESPN host chose to speak out on wide receiver Josh Gordon’s ongoing battle with drug addiction and mental health issues.

Typical of a Smith hot take, it did not please many people.

“I don’t want to come across as harsh or unsympathetic to Josh Gordon,” Smith said on the air late Thursday night. “But let’s be very, very clear here. You’ve got a whole bunch of people out there talking about ‘It’s a disease, it’s a disease’ because it’s an addiction.

“Well, I’m not going to debunk or eliminate the notion that it’s a disease, but how did it become one? Because you can’t get addicted to something you never try. This isn’t cancer. This isn’t Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or something like that. This is self-inflicted.”

Predictably, addiction specialists, sociologists and those people with a minimum level of human empathy were appalled by Smith’s comments.

Gordon announced Thursday he was stepping away from the Patriots to deal with mental health issues, and shortly afterward, the NFL announced his indefinite suspension for violating the league’s drug agreement.

“I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level,” the 27-year-old Gordon said. “I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp of things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health.”

Gordon has been hit with numerous drug suspensions during his time in the league and was a reclamation project for Bill Belichick and the Patriots this season after he was traded from the Browns.

He was performing admirably – 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns – before this latest, potentially career-ending setback.

For his part, Smith seemed to sense he was out on a limb about halfway through his rant, but his attempt to back off the strong – if ill-considered – words came off as clumsy as what he was saying in the first place.

“Now, in the case of Josh Gordon, you started off very early in life, from the time that you were in junior high school,” Smith said. “We need to be sensitive to that. We have to understand that. But nevertheless, what it comes down to is because of the decisions that you’ve made, even if it were through no fault of your own, at some point in time, you have clearly showed an inability to embrace individual and personal responsibility.

“And in the world of business, they are heartless when it comes to that. We wish they had a bigger heart about it, but the business world does not.”

Apparently, neither does Smith’s business.

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