- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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That's the insight from someone who has been there before. Cris Carter is a Hall of Fame receiver who battled addictions to cocaine and alcohol early in his career and was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's gut-wrenching for me to say this," Carter said Monday morning on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" show. "I really believe the only thing that's going to help the kid is if they release him."
Gordon's arrest and DWI charge early Saturday morning set off alarms throughout the sports world, with everyone from Baylor coach Art Briles to former Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson expressing serious concern for Gordon's well-being.
Nobody, though, was more passionate and pointed than Carter, who was cut by Buddy Ryan in Philadelphia and who spoke on the radio to Mike Golic, one of his former Eagles teammates.
Carter said Gordon's future depends on his realizing what he can lose, and the only way that can happen is if the Browns release him.
"That's the only reality to me," Carter said. "When I got cut, I didn't have a team. I didn't have any teammates. I didn't have a jersey that I could put my name on the back and say I'm a part of this team. I'm a part of the Elks Lodge. I'm a part of the East Side Warriors. I'm a part of Ohio State. I'm a part of the Eagles.
"When they took that away, man, that was my reality and that was the catalyst to get me on the road to recovery."
Carter's words were as inspiring as they were passionate. He can state the day he stopped drinking (Sept. 21, 1990) and the number of days he has been alcohol free (8,690). He said he had stopped using cocaine before he was released, but that alcohol masked his larger problems. Ryan told Carter he couldn't be trusted. The emptiness he felt after being released led Carter to get treatment.
Carter said he had great teammates in Philadelphia -- "Do you think I could have more quality friends around me than I had? Don't you think you guys did everything?" he asked Golic -- but that the change had to come from him.
"We're dealing with addiction, man, we're dealing with a disease," Carter said. "If Josh had cancer, we'd put him in a treatment center. And right now that's what we need to do for him.
"But no one wants to do the hard thing. Everyone wants to keep coddling, the same way they did in high school, the same way they did in Baylor ... and eventually it's going to blow up. Now it's blowing up in front of the National Football League, and his career is in jeopardy."
Carter said he'd be glad to help Gordon, and he added that the NFL's Employee Assistance Program is among the country's best.
"This is addiction, man," Carter said. "It's not about help, man. It's about looking inside yourself and realizing that 'I have a problem.' And for him, he just won't admit that."
Whatever happens, Gordon will get another chance to play -- whether it's with the Browns or another team, Carter said, comparing Gordon's talent to Randy Moss.
"I'm not concerned about him playing football ... " Carter said. "I'm concerned when he's 48 like me and he's sitting at his kitchen table like I am right now, can he look himself in the mirror and say, ‘Man, I'm mentally and physically healthy.'"
But Carter added another reality he came to understand: Other talented receivers will come along to take Gordon's place.
Carter's conclusion: "It's up to Josh."