I heard this rumor last week — that Browns DT Shaun Smith punched QB Brady Quinn — but thought nothing of it. A nondescript player like Shaun Smith, who had been dogged by rumors earlier this year that he was the player who “quit” when the Browns lost to the Broncos, could not possibly be stupid enough to punch franchise QB Brady Quinn, right?
Well, apparently this may be more than a rumor.
(Update 1:20 PM: And lending credence to the fact that this may be more than a rumor, earlier today Browns head coach Romeo Crennel refused to deny that an altercation between Brady Quinn and Shaun Smith took place last week.)
Two separate sources are reporting, at a minimum, the existence of a rumor today. ProFootballTalk.com mentioned it this morning and on Sunday, and the Cleveland Sports Examiner also has a report that cites WKYC-TV’s Jim Donovan has confirming the existence of said rumor. (Waiting For Next Year also has a report on this rumor, citing the Cleveland Sports Examiner story as its source.)
The rumor, according to the Cleveland Sports Examiner report, does not provide much detail:
It is still unclear if the hit was a sucker punch or with a weight. Many media sources in town are trying to track down the full story. The story sounds like more than a rumor since Donovan has now mentioned it.
You can rest assured that will little else for Browns beat reporters to cover as this horrific season winds to a close, this story of a possible Shaun Smith-Brady Quinn altercation will be investigated fully — and the details will probably come to light at some point.
According to the PFT report, Brady Quinn has denied that he was on the receiving end of any type of punch from Shaun Smith. But they are right in opining that Brady Quinn have little to gain by admitting the truth of this rumor, if it is indeed valid. The last thing that Quinn would want is for more negative attention to be brought to the team for which he is still purportedly the future. I am sure that Brady Quinn, like all of the Browns players, just wants to put the 2008 season in the rearview as quickly as possible.
Of course, if the rumor is true and Shaun Smith did punch Brady Quinn, I am sure that Quinn and many others in the organization would like to put Shaun Smith in their rearview as quickly as possible. That would not necessarily mean that anyone in the organization would want the issue to be public, however. Something tells me that after the shoddy play and effort of Shaun Smith this season, they already have enough ammo to simply deal with this in-house and still get him out of town anyway.
Radames Santiago Jr., who wrote the Cleveland Sports Examiner post on this issue states the obvious when he says the if the rumor is true, Shaun Smith should receive the first ticket out of Cleveland once the season is over. A pretty valid argument could be made, just based on the play of Shaun Smith, that he should be jettisoned from Cleveland regardless of the rumor or not.
For the Browns, this simply is another story that will bring unnecessary negative attention on the organization, and it comes on the heels of the worst loss of the season: a 14-0 trouncing by the awful Cincinnati Bengals in which Cedric Benson — CEDRIC BENSON! — ran wild and the Bengals only threw 9 passes.
I am sure a lot of people will make jokes about Brady Quinn and his pretty-boy persona and the potential heartache that a black eye or any other facial injury will cause for female Browns fans. And with little to smile about for the Browns season, perhaps such jokes can provide a brief moment of levity in an otherwise fantastically awful year.
But the real tragedy of this rumor — if it is true — is that Shaun Smith punching Brady Quinn would almost be the perfect metaphor to define the 2008 Season of Disappointment for the Cleveland Browns. Injuries have been a huge story of this season, as has the Browns propensity for injury themselves on the field with poor, self-defeating play at inopportune times.
The team lost starting quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson and are now down to playing a glorified assistant coach with little actual NFL talent in Ken Dorsey. While no offensive touchdowns in 5 games is inexcusable, it is somewhat explainable when keeping that fact in mind.
But the more egregious part of the metaphor is the Browns ability to beat themselves. An all-talk-no-play defensive lineman like Shaun Smith punching a first round pick and key member of the foundation for the future of the Browns like Brady Quinn is almost laughable — except for the fact that it might be true. If true, it would prove just how much of a turd and an idiot Shaun Smith is, and it would be a microcosm of the Browns dysfunction this season, and the inability for Romeo Crennel to exert control over his team.
The cat is out of the bag now, so we’ll see what comes of this rumor. I still think it almost seems too stupid to be true. But if there is anything we have learned from the Browns in 2008, it’s that whenever things seem like they are at their worst, there is always another story to drag the team down even further.
What an unfortunate mess. The Browns have talent in my opinion, and far too much of it to be crawling to the finish line like they are. But when that talent is injured, underperforming, and seeming to be led astray by a struggling coaching staff, it creates the putrid product that every Browns fan is being force fed this season.