A grateful Josh Gordon welcomes himself back to Patriots, NFL in big way

Sep 8, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

It had been 281 days since Josh Gordon last touched an NFL endzone. But the recently-reinstated Patriot wide receiver's comfort in bouncing off and through a trio of Steelers for New England's first score of the new season made it seem like riding a bike.

And most importantly, it was fun.

"That was the main goal for me: just have as much fun as possible," Gordon said of his NFL return. "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 number one objective."

Now, 'fun' isn't something that's necessarily considered the primary goal by many Patriots, but given the hell that Gordon's life has been, and the demons that have made 'fun' downright impossible throughout large chunks of a stop-and-start professional football career, it was a must for the 28-year-old wideout.

Gordon's "fun" appeared to be genuine, too, with the 6-foot-3 receiver seeming like a different person than the often unsure and at times overwhelmed talent he appeared to be throughout his 11-game run with the Patriots last season.

That is a result of Gordon's off-field lifestyle changes, as well as more 'comfort' with his role in Foxborough, which featured a three-catch, 73-yard stat line in the Patriots' banner-raising beatdown of the Steelers on Sunday night.

"For me, initially [coming to the Patriots] was a culture shock," Gordon admitted. "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."

Right or wrong, the health and availability concerns will always follow Gordon around, but taking it a one day at a time, Gordon couldn't help but smile when talking about his life since returning to the Patriots organization last month.

"I'm doing very well," Gordon offered. "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."

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.