Say what you will about what happened Thursday but let's be clear, the New England Patriots are in a pretty rough spot right now.
The team is 9-5 which is very good. Tom Brady is having a good year (maybe not by his standards, but by regular NFL quarterback standards, it's quite good) and the Patriots can clinch the division if they win one of their next two games. For most teams, that's awesome. But the Patriots are not most teams. They're basically the best team of all-time, so this is all crazy to think about. If they only win 10-11 games, people will be hitting the panic button--and it will be fair to say that they underperformed.
As for the news Josh Gordon is stepping away from the NFL, it's tough. He was the Patriots best receiver this season and it's hard to say whether or not he wanted to make the move or if it was a "you can't fire me, I quit" type of a situation where he knew the NFL was giving him the boot anyways. If it really is about his mental health, then we wish him nothing but the best and thank him for his contributions to the team.
The rules are pretty messed up, one can admit though. It seems like Gordon got the boot for smoking marijuana cigarettes. Everyone has the right to their own opinion on that sort of thing but let's get one thing straight: there are much worse things people can do--and some people who still play in the NFL have done some pretty bad things. So yeah, the league's priorities are not great.
Now, one has to wonder: so how will the Patriots do without him? That's hard to say. It's not good, that's for sure.
Can this team still win a Super Bowl? Technically no one has eliminated them yet, so we will find out how they can overcome this adversity over the next few weeks.