Josh Gordon starts despite report of discipline; did Bill Belichick purposely trick media?

Anyone hoping to get a tons of points from Josh Gordon in fantasy was dealt a cruel twist late on Monday afternoon when a report surfaced that the wide receiver was being disciplined during the first quarter because he was late for a meeting and the team bus.

Turns out, that wasn’t the case at all, as Gordon was on the field to start the game against Buffalo (follow here for live updates).

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Gordon would miss “several series” to start the game and could miss up to the entire first quarter.

NFL Media was the only outlet to report this news: Mike Girardi also followed up prior to the game with an on-field report noting that concerns over Gordon were part of the reason why the Patriots were contemplating a trade for a high-profile receiver. 

ESPN, broadcasting this game with plenty of boots on the ground, never confirmed the report. They addressed it during the open, with Joe Tessitore citing the NFL.com report.

“We do have news, first reported by the NFL Network, Patriots wide receiver to be disciplined tonight,” Tessitore said as ESPN opened the broadcast. “We expect him to be benched for a portion of the game for tardiness.”

They then threw it down to the field to Lisa Salters, who referenced the incident in order to open up a short feature on Gordon’s off-field struggles. 

“Is what happened today just a minor infraction or is Josh Gordon about to implode?” Salters asked. 

Like Tessitore, Salters wasn’t reporting anything. ESPN’s Mike Reiss also only referenced the report as well, pointing out the Patriots declined to comment on the report leading up to the game. Reiss later noted how quickly Gordon acclimated to the Patriots’ system.

This report was not widely circulating throughout the local Boston media.

Although Jeff Howe of The Athletic did note that he believed Gordon showed up late to a team bus.

Tom Curran of CSN New England pointed out after seeing Gordon on the field that the report must not have come from the team.

Gordon was acquired in a trade with the Browns after years of off-field issues. No one doubted his talent, but his problems away from football keep him from staying on the field, and the Browns simply decided to ship him out as part of a full-blown reboot. The Patriots scooped him up and, by all accounts, he’s been a model citizen since arriving in New England. So maybe nothing happened? 

The report of him being tardy for a meeting — especially just days after Tom Brady praised his newest weapon — was depressing. But maybe it wasn’t accurate? Or maybe it was planted by Bill Belichick? Or perhaps Belichick even changed his plans in order to send some sort of message?

Whatever the case, Gordon was out there on the Patriots’ first drive and he’s spent the entire game on the field for New England, drawing multiple targets from Brady and nearly catching a deep ball. And it’s unlikely we’re going to get any answers from Belichick, who will likely spend his time during the postgame press conference simply explaining that he won’t talk about matters of team discipline and that these issues will remain private, etc. 

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