BEREA—The pain that coursed through his chest and towards his shoulder was as brutal as Josh McCown could remember, but he knew too that if he took to the sidelines, it could very well be the end.
Having been driven to the turf by a pair of Ravens defenders just moments earlier, McCown ignored the pain as he returned to the field to try to tough it out one more time.
After just a pair of on-field passes, however, McCown knew he couldn’t carry on.
“I made the first throw and I felt a little something and I made the second throw and felt a little something more then and knew at that point as much as I wanted to be out there, it's probably not fair to everybody else,” McCown said. “I didn't know if I could push the ball down field the way I needed to and those things so I thought it was best to come out then.”
Amidst a campaign that included a concussion on Browns’ season-opening drive and multiple broken ribs in a game against the St. Louis Rams, a broken collarbone was the final blow to McCown, thus ending a season of immense injury for the quarterback.
“You just wonder what it would have been like if you could play every snap,” McCown said. “That's the frustrating thing, but again, it's a part of this game and you adjust and move on.”
Though his 2015 season was one of frustration, it was certainly one of success as well.
Having started eight games in total for Cleveland, McCown finished the year with impressive numbers, completing 63.7% of his passes while throwing for 2,109 yards, 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
“I felt good, especially the situation I went through last year,” McCown said, when asked to look back on the times he was on the field for the Browns. “I felt like I did in 2013 with the Bears as far as the rhythm and timing and playing and all that stuff. I’m encouraged by some of the things we did.”
Despite his success, McCown understands that as a 36-year old veteran who now has to heal from a season-ending injury, there will be questions about his future in Cleveland and in the NFL altogether.
While he’s not ready to rule out anything regarding his future, he wants to focus, instead, on supporting the two young players that he’s led in the Browns quarterback room all season long.
“As a player, when your season ends like mine has, your focus becomes 'what can I do to help us be better next year?',” McCown said. “Until I’m told otherwise, I’ll do everything I can to serve the guys and this team and organization moving forward.”
McCown is under contract for next season with the Browns and though he certainly understands that he could be cut at any moment, he does want to stick around to see things turn around for the fans and for the team in Cleveland.
“Being here and being a part of this city and organization and understanding how badly people want to get this thing turned around and running in the right direction, I definitely would love to be a part of that,” McCown said. “Having the experience now, I appreciate how much the fans love our team and want to see it do well. If I get that opportunity I would love to.”
For now, however, McCown will not only have to deal with the immense pain in his collarbone, but maybe even worse, the pain of watching his teammates compete over the final five games from the sidelines.
“I think that's what's the hardest thing for me to deal with in this situation is you just want to be available for your teammates and be there for your guys and so when you can't be it hurts,” McCown said. “It hurts more than any of the physical things. That's what's more frustrating than anything.”
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