This past weekend was not a good one for Cleveland Browns fans. Or Ohio State Buckeye fans. There is nothing worse for a fan than watching your favorite team play badly when you know they are capable of more. If they play their best, leave it all on the field, and still lose? Well, I can tip my hat to the opponent, say congrats, and go on with my day. But when they are not putting in the effort, when the coaches aren't setting them up to succeed with the right play calling, when stupid mental errors cost them, it's hard to remain positive as a fan.
I could spend time breaking down the good and bad I saw this weekend but, really, is they why you read my blog? Smarter folks than I can do a much better job. And real sports fans already know what went wrong. You come here to read my thoughts on "off the field" situations and antics because I usually have something to say about them. And you would be correct again today.
Peyton Hillis. #40. Madden Cover Boy. The White Buffalo. The Wampus Cat. He has many names but we know that he has become the heart and soul of the fan base, beloved by all of Cleveland, the cornerstone of our offense. Or is he? Much talk is going on regarding his contract situation and his battle with the streptococcus bacteria last week. And I'm here to say that talk better all be wrong.
We'll start with the contract. As fans, we'd love to have Peyton locked in to a three or four year deal. To secure what we feel is the basis for our running game, something this team desperately needs to have. To compete in the AFC North, you need a running game. You need a tough defense, and a running game. Am I repeating myself? Yep. You need someone who can run the ball in snow in December. And for the first time in years, Browns fans think Peyton is that guy.
The question is: does Mike Holmgren think he is that guy? If he does, then they are working on a contract. I don't like contract deals in the middle of a season, but no one asked me for my opinion on THAT before doing all of these other extensions. If they don't want to keep him, then he should be working on game film so that he can get an offer from another team (or a good trade offer) at the end of the year. Either way, I don't understand keeping him off the field. If you can figure out why he's not playing, please let me know.
I do think that the deals already announced are the Browns' way of showing both fans and players where their priorities are. Quick deals with the low money guys. Big deals for the O-line and Defensive guys that this team will be built on as they move into the future. I'm good with all that. The "sexy" players come last. But as a professional, don't you dare let those contract talks get in the way of the game on Sunday.
Next on my mind is the strep, Peyton being send home, and the rumors today that players think he was sandbagging and should have played I say: Shenanigans. SHENANIGANS! To even for a second consider that Peyton would sit himself down because of the contract, blame it on illness, and leave his teammates out there alone is ridiculous. That would be a total punk move and I don't for one second believe that. Speaking from experience, strep is one of those bugs that knocks you out physically and it can linger for a long time. I know I'm not a professional athlete, but I've been fighting a cold for six days and I'm still not back to 100%. You don't risk him infecting teammates and you don't risk him being injured because he's weakened by the illness. Anyone who thinks he was playing some kind of contract game can come to my house right now, say it to my face, and get a smack upside the head.
Whew. I feel much better now. Here's the bottom line, people. If this contract is turning into a distraction on this team, it needs to get done now. NOW. We have a multitude of issues to deal with so that this team can get back to making progress towards the future. We have players to evaluate and everyone needs to be at their best. We still have games to win because there are 12 more games this year. 2-2 is a start I can live with, no matter what road we traveled to get there. But there needs to be nothing but the game plan in these guys heads right now so this needs to be settled.
I think the Browns agree with me on that one. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't announce at some point during this time off for the Bye Week that a deal has been done. Personally, I've revised my opinion on how much money it should be. (Again, no one has asked me but this is my blog so I get to say whatever I want). I'm good with 6 million per year over 4 years. That's 24 million. Three years guaranteed with the fourth year being a renegotiation opportunity based on performance. Done. It's just that easy. Now, if I only ran the world....