Patriots' Gordon addresses substance abuse in statement

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon offered his first public comments on Friday since being conditionally reinstated from his indefinite suspension last month.

Gordon issued the following statement ahead of his return to playing football on Sunday night as the Patriots open their season against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Foxborough, Mass.

"Before the 2019 season starts, I would like to address an issue that arose toward the end of last season," Gordon, 28, wrote. "It's been well documented that I have battled substance abuse for quite some time. Unfortunately, I did not take the time to focus on a solution to my problem until this past year. I am eternally grateful for the constant support from the NFL, NFLPA and the Patriots organization. I also want to thank my family, friends and all the fans who supported me while I addressed this issue.

"Going forward, I will not be discussing the details of my past. I plan to focus on the present and getting better every day. I hope people will judge me on what I do now and in the future. I look forward to being a member of the Patriots once again this season and doing my part by contributing on and off the field."

Gordon was suspended on Dec. 20 for violating the terms of his previous reinstatement under the NFL substance abuse policy. He was conditionally reinstated on Aug. 16.

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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
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Josh Gordon throughout his NFL career
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during an NFL preseason game against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 23, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 9, 2014: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 (L) and wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 (R) of the Cleveland Browns stand for the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the Detroit Lions on August 9, 2014 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won 13-12. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 9, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Browns 13-12 in a preseason game. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
JULY 29, 2014 - BEREA, OH: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass prior to a training camp practice at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio on July 29, 2014. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon attends the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 12: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns participates in warm ups before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 12, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 18, 2016: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on August 18, 2016 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Atlanta won 24-13. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 19, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 19, 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Jacksonville won 19-7. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 26, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns walks onto the field prior to a game on November 26, 2017 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati won 30-16. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CARSON, CA - DECEMBER 03: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center on December 3, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball prior to a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 10, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns gestures toward the crowd after catching a touchdown pass in the first quarter of a game on December 10, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The touchdown was Gordon's first since returning from suspension. Green Bay won 27-21 in overtime. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 17: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31: Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson shakes hands with Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 31, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 31, 2017: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns runs a route prior to a game on December 31, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 28-24. (Photo by: 2017 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - JUNE 12, 2018: Wide receiver Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns catches a pass during a mandatory mini camp on June 12, 2018 at the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by: 2018 Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (23) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) during the third quarter of the National Football League game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns on September 9, 2018, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. Pittsburgh and Cleveland tied 21-21. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sep 9, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) catches a touchdown as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton (20) defends during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 2: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (left) congratulates Josh Gordon after his touchdown in the third quarter. The New England Patriots play against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Dec. 02, 2018. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 02: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots reacts after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Gillette Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 09: Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots looks on prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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"Yeah, Josh has worked hard," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Friday. "He's created an opportunity for himself. But, you know, I'm excited for our entire team. We've got a lot of guys -- everybody's worked hard, put a lot into it. It's time to start playing. It's time to see where we're at."

After breaking into the NFL with the Cleveland Browns in 2012 and making the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season, Gordon missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons due to suspensions related to substance abuse.

Gordon played in five games in 2017 after being reinstated. He played one game for Cleveland last year before being traded to the Patriots in September.

In 12 games last season, Gordon caught 41 passes for 737 yards and four touchdowns.

--Field Level Media

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