ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Melvin Gordon III always understood he was never a fan favorite in Broncos Country.
He wished this wasn’t so. A fun-loving, sensitive soul who was never afraid to speak with candor or display his emotions, Gordon wanted to be loved as everyone does. But right from the start, when he was brought in through no fault of his own to take carries away from local hometown hero Phillip Lindsay, Gordon never quite felt welcome here.
And for that, Gordon wants Broncos fans and his media critics to know that he understands. Waived Monday after two and a half seasons in Denver, where he accumulated 2,222 yards rushing and 22 combined touchdowns rushing and receiving, but also with 12 fumbles, Gordon spoke Wednesday morning to 9NEWS in his first interview since his mercurial term here ended.
“I just want to thank my teammates,’’ Gordon said. “It’s been a hard three years for me there, with this year being the hardest. I’m not mad. Came here and I was never on good terms with the fans, but I want to let them know I’m not upset with how they treated me. It’s part of the game. They come with high expectations for their players and I didn’t reach those. It’s no hard feelings.
“As far as the staff, there were times I felt like I was a scapegoat. But respectably speaking, I hope I did save them some time. Because Hack’s [head coach Nathaniel Hackett] a good dude. That staff, they’re great dudes. They just weren’t great for me. But I respect those guys. It was hard there for me. But I respect that organization. They gave me a chance to keep playing my dream.
“For the guys’ [teammates’] sake, I hope the coaches do stay around, because it’s hard to get your foot in with other coaches. I’m a prime example. Whether you’re a great player, a good player, an average player, you don’t always fit right with the staff they bring in, and that brings problems. You see the situation I’m in, and I don’t wish that on any player. So I hope they make it work for the guys’ sake.’’
As you can read, Gordon is still processing getting cut for the first time in his eight-year career. He is appreciative and compassionate in one sense, disappointed and hurt in another. He went through a kaleidoscope of feelings as he was leaving UCHealth Training Center for the last time Monday.
“I didn’t get a chance to say bye to everybody,’’ Gordon said. “I said bye to a couple guys and I got choked up a little bit. I worked out with the defense [in the weight room Monday morning]. The offense came in and I was like, ‘I can’t see those guys. I don’t want them to see me like this.’ They meant a lot to me over my three years there.
“It’s bigger issues than Melvin Gordon over there. I was a way to save time for … and that’s OK. I’m glad that I can go somewhere and I can truly be happy for the first time in a while.”
Gordon wouldn’t say what those issues were. He has read where many presumed he was cut because of his fumble issues, but that’s not what he got from general manager George Paton as he was told the tough news Monday.
“No, that wasn’t even mentioned,’’ Gordon said about the fumbles. “It was crazy when I’d seen that. Because George, when I talked to me, he didn’t mention anything about that. He knew what type of environment it was for me. He knew how I felt toward my situation there and he told me about the fan base and how it’s been tough for me and said he didn’t want to put me through this anymore and with our situation it was probably best.
“He told me I had a lot of football left and he would vouch for me. There’s really no point in keeping me around with the circumstances anymore and he just want me to go out and get my joy back.”
After clearing waivers – no team picked up the remaining $1.03 million on his salary – Gordon said several teams have expressed interest. A couple teams in the playoff hunt have so far mentioned they’d like to sign him to their practice squad so he can get a week or two of learning the playbook before they call him up on their 53-man roster.
It’s why midseason trades aren’t nearly as numerous in the NFL as they are in Major League Baseball. In baseball, it’s one on one, pitcher vs. hitter. It doesn’t matter what uniform a player wears. In football, it’s 11 on 11. There are new systems and plays to learn.
“It’s a wide variety [of teams showing interest],’’ Gordon said. “We’re trying to figure out which situation is the best. There’s a couple teams, at this point they’re setting up for the playoffs, and I’m trying to figure that out.’’
When Gordon re-signed with the Broncos in late April – a good six weeks after the start of free agency – he figured he’d be going into the Carolina game this Sunday with a 7-3 record, instead of looking for work after his team stumbled to 3-7. Any ideas what has gone wrong?
“Any ideas?’’ Gordon said. “If I knew, we’d have addressed that a while ago. I don’t have much different to say now that I’m gone. Hackett is bright enough and he’s won over enough guys to eventually figure it out. He’s been making changes like you see [Klint] Kubiak running the offense and you saw how we looked out there in the first half. He’s taken his ego out of it and he truly believes team, first, and I respect him for it. I really wish it worked out better for me there. I liked him. Hopefully me moving on saves him enough time to turn it around and they go on a little run.
“I wish those boys the best of luck. I hope they win every game out. I love my teammates there more than anything because they kept me afloat this whole year. Those boys kept me focused. They kept football fun for me. If you could get that out there to them.’’
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