It wasn’t all too long ago when many fans of the Cleveland Browns were starting to worry about the egos of some specific players. Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. started his career off by losing a mid-air battle to a shrub, resulting in a handful of knee surgeries. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards came into the league as one of the more-hyped pass-catchers in quite a while, and had a season ended by … wait for it… a knee injury. But aside from the epic levels of talent that each of these players had in tow, they were also known as problems in the clubhouse, as well as the sidelines.
Whether Winslow was racking up taunting penalties or Edwards was chewing out his quarterback, the news was rarely positive when it didn’t come to the statistics. Not all too far in the future, we are currently in a day where both players seemed to have matured right before our eyes. Yes, contract talks may come across negatively, but if you don’t think that both of these players turned into leaders before this past season, you may need to gear up the TiVo and re-watch all 16 games.
Fast forward to today, and I’m willing to bet that a few other teams – specifically within our division – are wishing that they could say the same thing.
A recent post in Matt Mosley’s Hashmarks blog discusses the recent turn of events for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While we can go all the way back to late last season when Najeh Davenport allegedly attacked his (ex?) girlfriend in the streets of Cleveland, we don’t have to. The ‘Curtain’ has cut ties with wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, after he reportedly assaulted his (ex?) girlfriend in a Mexican restaurant.
Only a few days earlier, James Harrison went all Hulk on his girlfriend – breaking down her door only to blast her in the face as well. Both players were arrested, only Wilson was given the axe.
And while it isn’t exactly the same turn of events in Cincinnati, both Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh have started to make headlines for not-so-team-oriented moves. Johnson has been in the news almost the entire off-season, claiming that he does not want to play for the Bengals next year, using words like “disrespect” and terms of the like. The Dayton Daily News reports that Johnson cannot be fined by the NFL for saying that he would specifically like to play for either the Miami Dolphins or the Dallas Cowboys, but for one of your marquee players to act this way – for a solid few months – it cannot be good for the locker room as well as the up-and-coming talent.
We learned today that Both Johnson and Houshmandzadeh have decided to skip out on the squad’s off-season program, citing different reasons. Not surprisingly, Housh has his quarterback’s hall-pass.
“We’ve been together five years now,” Palmer said. “Our timing and rhythm is pretty good. He does pilates and yoga and doesn’t party. He’ll show up for every OTA and work out and be good to go.”
But when asked about Johnson, Palmer gave the illustrious “no comment” reply. But hey, at least Chris Henry has gone almost a year without getting arrested. Right?
I can’t recall the last time that I’ve felt this good about our Cleveland Browns, and to think that it isn’t even baseball season (quite yet). No off-field problems, feel-good stories about Gary Baxter and LeCharles Bentley possibly making a comeback, veteran leaders taking pay-cuts so that they can stay with the team… It doesn’t get much better than this in terms of an off-season.
Of course, we can be hit just as hard with a dose of reality come the regular season, so I cannot let the hopes get too, too high. But you can’t really blame me, can you?