FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mike Goodson never doubted he would be back on the football field someday.
Through all of the personal issues he dealt with for the last few months, the New York Jets running back knew he’d someday resume his career. But first, he needed to take care of something more important: himself.
“I took the time to get myself right,” Goodson said Tuesday, “so I could come back and be the best football player I can be.”
Goodson returned to the team Monday after being away during training camp for personal reasons. In his first comments since his arrest in New Jersey on drugs and weapons charges in May, Goodson declined to go into details of the case or what he was doing while away from the team.
“Personally? Yeah, it was kind of embarrassing,” Goodson said.
He was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and placed on the active non-football injury/illness list by the Jets.
“I’m pretty disappointed in myself,” Goodson said. “I had some things that I had to do. I’m back now and I was able to address those things and I’m a lot better.”
When asked if he was seeking treatment for substance abuse during the time he was away from the team, Goodson preferred to keep that private.
“Like I said, it was personal things (with) me and my family,” he said. “I don’t really want to get into those things here.”
Goodson was on the practice field Tuesday, mostly working with trainers, in his first appearance with the team since May.
“I was able to get out and run around a little bit,” he said, “get a workout in, get back into it.”
Despite the long absence, Goodson doesn’t think he’ll be too far behind in picking up the offense because it is similar to that which Oakland ran while he was there last season.
He spent his first three NFL seasons with Carolina after being a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M, and will likely serve as a change-of-pace back for the Jets. He could also potentially fill the kick returner role once held by Joe McKnight, who was released Monday.
“Spark,” Goodson said when asked what he could provide the offense. “I think I’m really explosive and given four weeks to prepare for something, I think I’ll be pretty explosive and ready to play.”
The NFL said in a statement announcing the suspension that Goodson will be eligible to return to the Jets’ active roster on Sept. 30, a day after the team’s game against the Tennessee Titans. The first game he would be eligible to play in would be against Atlanta on Oct. 7 — a Monday night.
He will be permitted to attend meetings and work out on his own at the team’s practice facility during his suspension, but won’t be able to practice or play.
“I’m really happy to get Mike back, there’s no question about it,” coach Rex Ryan said. “He’ll get up to speed. When he left, he had a pretty good grasp of what we were doing. Obviously, the conditioning part, he’ll have to get into football shape without being able to practice, so that will be a challenge.”
Ryan wouldn’t say that he was disappointed in the running back.
“Everybody in here has made mistakes,” he said. “I know I’ve made plenty, and it’s well-documented. So, for me to pass judgment on somebody, I’m just glad he’s back with us.”
Goodson was arrested in May with friend Garant Evans after they were found in a car stopped on Interstate 80 in New Jersey. The men were charged with marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and weapons offenses. Police said they found a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and a hollow-point bullet in the vehicle.
The 26-year-old Goodson pleaded not guilty and took part in some preseason practices with the Jets, who signed him to a three-year, $6.9 million deal. The case was sent to a grand jury, but no court date has been scheduled.
He said he had no plans to appeal his suspension by the NFL because it was “just something that I didn’t want to do.” Goodson wasn’t sure if the Jets would release him at some point, but repeatedly said the team has been supportive of him through the entire process.
“I just have my life in order,” he said. “I was able to get my life in order and able to look at some things that I wasn’t happy with with myself.”
Goodson wouldn’t elaborate, but he acknowledged that he was a bit nervous about how he would be received by his Jets teammates when he returned.
“But the guys have been great,” he said. “It was all smiles and hugs when I got back, so it’s good.”
One of his biggest goals is to earn back the trust of his teammates, and he plans to do that by putting in a lot of work and not talking much.
“I think the proof is in your actions,” he said.
He acknowledged that he has met with Ryan and general manager John Idzik about what is expected of him. While he wouldn’t reveal what was said, Goodson isn’t necessarily operating under an assumption that he needs to have not even the slightest misstep from here on out.
“Nobody’s perfect,” he said. “But like I said, I’m going to do my best and I’m better for the job now that I did take the time that I needed.”
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