Melvin Gordon and Nathaniel Hackett ‘hashed it out,’ and now Gordon prepares to start
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon left SoFi Stadium on Monday night knowing neither what his short-term future held, nor why he spent the second half standing on the sideline holding his helmet, waiting for the call to action that didn’t come — and for an explanation as to why he went from that day’s starter to being out of the mix entirely.
A day later, he left a meeting with Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett as the starter for next Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.
“It went good,” Gordon said of the meeting. “It was a talk that probably should have happened some weeks ago. But it happened, and I’m glad that we hashed it out.”
Added Hackett: “It was a great talk. Love Melvin. Have so much respect for him as a pro for all that he has done in this league.”
Neither Gordon nor Hackett chose to delve into the details of the meeting. Hackett called it “private,” while Gordon termed it “personal.”
That said, the starting assignment isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be — as Gordon saw last Monday.
“I started last week,” he said with a knowing smile.
“It is what it is. I really don’t want to say too much, but I appreciate [Hackett] saying it.”
Despite being the No. 1 running back heading into the game, Gordon’s night ended with just 9 snaps and 3 rushing attempts. He doesn’t even want to think about what might happen if the next starting assignment goes like the last one.
“It’s a possibility I don’t even know, man,” he said. “I’m not even trying to put my mind frame right there right now, because I’m going to get mad.”
Instead, Gordon said he tries to focus on staying positive despite a season more frustrating than any other in his football life. For that, he cites the advice of his running-backs coach at Wisconsin, Thomas Hammock, who now serves as the head coach at Northern Illinois.
“He told me as a freshman in college, ‘You’re going to have to face adversity in this game. Whether it’s on the field or off the field, whether there are some choices that are being made by different people, as a man, you’re just going to have to deal with it,'” Gordon recalled.
“This chapter in my life right now is big adversity. I hate that. I’m in the media for the wrong reasons, and not because I’m having a stellar game. I hate that more than anything.”
Gordon explained why as he continued.
“Because I don’t want people to look at me and be like, ‘It’s always something.’ You know what I’m saying?” Gordon said. “Rather than, ‘This guy’s out here, he’s killing it.’ It’s just the narrative has changed, and I don’t like it at all. It’s adversity. It’s this chapter in my life. I’m being tested as a man mentally. I’ve got to overcome it.”
When Monday night’s game ended, Gordon returned to the locker room and saw messages from his friends and family.
They watched the Monday Night Football broadcast. They saw the shot of Gordon standing in the bench area watching from the sideline with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. They also saw him listening to Jerry Jeudy vent after a failed third-down 1:28 into overtime.
“Nah, I thought [the cameras] would be pointed at the game. I didn’t think they’d be on me. I didn’t even know to that degree until I got done and then my family was just hitting me up and was like, ‘We’re sorry for what’s going on.’ That’s where I heard it — all my friends and stuff were texting me.
“I heard they were making a big deal out of it — which I hate. But I can’t help that.”
In the wake of the night, Gordon liked a slew of tweets, including some suggesting a Gordon-for-Cam Akers trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Trade rumors regarding Gordon are unlikely to ebb with the trade deadline approaching on Nov. 1.
“I didn’t know you guys you could keep track of that stuff,” Gordon said of the liked tweets.
Everyone with a Twitter account learns that at some point — including the author of this story. What Gordon now hopes to learn is whether the clouds hovering over his professional life will soon break.