Sunday , January 29 2023

Stephen A. Smith is dead Wrong about Josh Gordon



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My brother enters his seventh year of sobriety. He gave me his year-sober chip, and I carry it with him in my wallet, with pride.

Addiction is something whose power you will never understand if you have never experienced it. When I saw ESPN's Stephen Smith on one of his notorious rants, this time on the Patriots suspension of the broad receiver of Josh Gordon, I was furious. When I saw Sage Steele I duplicate it the next day with additional information that she and Smith "have first hand, heartbreaking knowledge about the devastation of addiction" I was disappointed.

Let's make something clear: Nobody knows how much Gordon's addiction is or his recovery in Gordon's recovery. That's his story. It belongs to him. So when powerful media figures like Smith are punishing Gordon and thinking about dealing with addiction, everything they do is to support stigma that keeps track of anyone who is struggling with addiction and deals with mental health.

In a one-minute segment, Smith argues that he does not know if addiction is actually a disease, while impeccably defusing the struggles of anyone struggling with addiction (and thus contradicting) arguing that "this is not cancer, it's not Alzheimer's disease, dementia or something like that."

UŽIVAJU U: A year ago, look at Josh Gordon while he was working to get back to the NFL

It's the art of performance at its best. Everything that narratives do is further promote the idea that dependence does not need treatment – that it is simply a personal failure.

Smith's addiction is nothing I have heard during my brother's trip. They are prevalent in color communities. "You can not become addictive to something you have never tried," says Smith, as if he had one answer to such a complex question.

"She should stop drinking," offered an Indian aunt to her father, speaking about her brother. A few years later, I still sculpt when I crossed the path with her.

My brother did not touch the drink for nearly seven years. No problem with alcohol. He tells me it's because alcohol is just a symptom of something bigger. He took personal responsibility – there is no doubt about that. That's why he is one of my personal heroes and why I carry his chip with me wherever I go. But he also has the support of family and true friends who took time to understand his troubles. This was not directly, especially considering that we are Americans of the first generation. Studies have shown that the stigmatization of mental illnesses is often higher among minority populations, and it is less likely that these groups will receive mental health care.

Josh Gordon takes the time he needs to work through his demons. It's not the first time, and maybe it's not the last time. And that's fine. Ben Baskin of the SI last year spoke with Gordon and recorded his ups and downs. It's not a nice story, and it's obvious that there is not yet a happy ending, nor a year-one-sober chip. Gordon's story, however, tells everyone who suffers from dependency that they are not alone, and we hope to ease some of the shame that surrounds them. Smith's comments do exactly the opposite. They can prevent the next younger brother from getting the help he needs.

Priia Desai is a reporter who focuses on the cross-section of sports, race and culture.


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