(Update: Kellen Winslow has been suspended by the Cleveland Browns for one game for conduct detrimental to the team.)
I am taking a quick break from work to point all Cleveland Browns fans and interested observers about the Kellen Winslow situation in the direction of a great article by Terry Pluto on Cleveland.com. He goes into more depth about Kellen Winslow’s current frustration and his point is that this entire fiasco is about one thing: money.
I have been a huge supporter of Kellen Winslow, but am now starting to feel like I was blind to the facts and that the assertion on ProFootballTalk.com that the Browns might be better off without Winslow was not as far off as I originally though. I already discussed Winslow’s selfishness in the Browns-Redskins recap from last night, and I don’t want to steal too much of Terry Pluto’s thunder. Read his article, and know that I agree with him wholeheartedly.
With respect to contract disputes in the NFL, I typically side with the player. The NFL is set up in such a way that owners have all of the leverage. Contracts are not guaranteed, players can be cut at almost any time, and unless you are a super-duper-star and have a very favorable deal, there is very little guaranteed security. For that reason, and considering the potential for injury on every play, I think players and their agents have to look out for the player and exercise their leverage whenever they have it. If it means a holdout as a rookie, or before a season after the player has performed well, I don’t usually hold it against the player if they are being reasonable.
In this case, Kellen Winslow is not being reasonable.
Before his NFL career even got of the ground, Winslow proved that he is a knucklehead when he got into the serious motorcycle accident that left his knee forever damaged. The Cleveland Browns were perfectly within their rights to terminate Kellen’s contract and not pay him. However, because the Browns were committed to Kellen Winslow as a long-term piece of the puzzle to build around, they did pay him. And now that Kellen is actually coming off a season in which he played 16 games, he’s crying that he’s underpaid.
How about how overpaid you were when you weren’t even on the field — because of your own stupidity and recklessness!?!? Kellen, are you serious?
Look, Phil Savage should have called Kellen Winslow if he didn’t. And if Kellen had a staph infection, then Cleveland needs to ramp up the vigilance and figure out what the hell is going on. They have taken extreme measures already, but the problem may not yet be solved. Guess what — time to move onto plan C or D or whatever this would make it. So I have no problem with Kellen being upset about those two issues.
But the crux of Kellen’s discontent is his contract. He has a new agent in Drew Rosenhaus, which means that demands for a new contract were a given. Remember, agents only get paid on a new deal. The old agent makes the commission on the deal signed before. So of course Kellen Winslow would be angling for a new deal. To a certain extent, he is not outside of being reasonable in wanting a new contract at some point. He’s a major player for the Browns, and probably is slightly underpaid at only $4 million this year when Dallas Clark just signed a huge new contract with the Colts.
But, the history has to be taken into account here. Look at all the Cleveland Browns have already done for you and quit acting like a selfish child, Kellen. Take a stand and tell Drew Rosenhaus to shove it up his rear, and that you’ll renegotiate at the end of the season with your best interests and the interests of the Browns in mind. Remember the Browns Kellen? The name on the front of your jersey? Remember when Phil Savage and the Browns took care of you when they could have cast you out on the street when there was no guarantee you’d ever be a healthy, effective player again? A high character player who is a team leader and a building block of a championship team, who is worthy of a big contract, would act with at least some semblance of selflessness and team-first spirit. You have to look out for yourself as NFL player, but Kellen Winslow is actually one player that was protected by his organization, and given money that he did not necessarily deserve.
Kellen Winslow, however, decided to air his dirty laundry immediately after the most crushing loss of the Browns season. Put two and two together; you’ll know my new opinion of Kellen Winslow, whose jersey I proudly wore all day yesterday.
I just feel like a schmuck that I didn’t take off the rose-colored glasses and see all of this before.
(Update just read on both SI.com and Cleveland.com that Kellen Winslow could potentially be disciplined by the Browns for going public with his comments. Romeo Crennel reacted to Winslow’s outburst today and was none to pleased that his start tight end went to the media before bringing his problems up with organization.)
(Update #2 — A very good article from the Northern Ohio News-Herald regarding Kellen Winslow and the staph infection epidemic in Cleveland. Highlights of the article include: a) Kellen Winslow and Phil Savage engaged in a heated exchange in the tunnel before Winslow spoke with the media; b) good perspective from coach Romeo Crennel regarding the pressure that NFL players face due to the fear of injury; c) more information regarding the Cleveland Browns and their inability rid themselves of staph infections.)
[tags]kellen winslow, cleveland browns, nfl, football[/tags]