By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Kansas City Chiefs have never shied away from giving players with questionable backgrounds a second chance.
Or third or fourth or fifth.
Or, in the case of Josh Gordon, a sixth.
The extremely talented but problem-prone wide receiver was reinstated by the NFL this week after his fifth suspension for violating its drug addiction policy and performance enhancer policy. And with a crying need for a tall, wide, lanky receiver for Patrick Mahomes, it made sense that Kansas City would be one of many teams to find out about him.
Gordon ended up signing with the Chiefs on Tuesday. A day later, he wore a red No.19 jersey and was training with the practice squad while trying to digest as much as possible of coach Andy Reid’s strong offensive playbook.
“Josh is a good player. I think we all know that, ”said Reid,“ and he worked hard on her situation and made sure she was fair. He was reinstated by the league, which seemed like a big step to me, so we welcome him on board.
Reid’s reputation as a coach ready to give players the benefit of the doubt dates back to his time in Philadelphia, when he mostly gave Michael Vick the opportunity to be his quarterback after his prison term for his role in a dog fighting ring.
It continued in Kansas City with mixed results.
Many teams took Tyreek Hill off their scorecards entirely after he was arrested for domestic violence while in the state of Oklahoma. He had ended his college career in tiny West Alabama, where he received rave reviews from coaches, and the Chiefs took a fifth-round flyer with him in the 2016 draft.
Not only did he get out of trouble, he was a three-time All-Pro while setting a slew of franchise records.
Travis Kelce missed an entire varsity season in Cincinnati with a suspension, and many believe it took a toll on his stock heading into the 2013 draft. The Chiefs took him to the third round and, like Hill, he had won three All-Pro nominations, set a slew of records and teamed up with his fast-paced counterpart to help the Chiefs win a Super Bowl.
On the other side of the coin are players like Marcus Peters, Kareem Hunt and Frank Clark.
Peters was a two-time All-Pro cornerback for the Chiefs, who drafted him despite being ejected from his varsity team. But he ran into run-ins with coaches and teammates in Kansas City and was eventually traded to the Rams.
Hunt, who also struggled in college, enjoyed a dominant rookie season for Kansas City before video surfaced of him kicking a woman down the hall of a hotel. The Chiefs immediately released Hunt, who was later signed by the Browns.
In the case of Clark, who was arrested for domestic violence in college, the Chiefs traded with the Seahawks for him and signed a long-term deal with the smuggler. But he was arrested again in March in Los Angeles and faces a charge of possession of a firearm; his arraignment and plea hearing are scheduled for next week.
“Everyone deserves an opportunity to at least try to do the right thing,” said Reid.
Gordon’s talent has never been disputed. He led the league with 1,646 yards in 2013 when he was All-Pro with Cleveland, and he showed flashes of that same ability in brief stops in Seattle and New England.
The question is whether Gordon can avoid the drug problems that have plagued his career.
“He’s had an amazing eight months doing business here. The league obviously understands he’s a good guy, ”said Reid. “We still sell Kansas City in general – it’s a great place to live, a big fan base, and so on. So you will have support. As long as you do the right things, you will have support. “
The Chiefs also have a strong dressing room culture which should help Gordon stay out of trouble.
“We like to bring in good soccer players, guys who work hard and come here and want to win soccer games,” said Mahomes, “and so it was a hell of a chance to bring him here and there. get involved in this reception hall, and he will have his role. He’s a great football player, and I think you know that in this attack everyone has a chance to play.
The Chiefs were hoping that Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson or Byron Pringle would become their No.2 wide receiver after Sammy Watkins left in free agency. But all have been inconsistent at best, and now they are turning their hopes on a player whose size and athleticism is unlike anything else they have on the roster.
“He’s going to be a guy who, even though he’s covered, isn’t. You can kind of throw him up there and he can make plays, ”Mahomes said. “I’ve talked to him a bit here now and he seems like a great guy who wants to come to work, so we’ll see as he comes out on the training ground how he can help us as an offense. “
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