For quite some time after word got out about Kellen Winslow's motorcycle accident on Sunday, the only thing we heard from the Browns was that the injuries were ‘not life-threatening'. They didn't add anything like ‘he only suffered some cuts and bruises', which led us all to believe that the injuries were somewhere in between ‘cuts and bruises and non life-threatening'.
That announcement came at the same time as the deadline for season ticket holders to get their money in to the Browns offices for what they thought would be a promising season. After all, the Number One pick in the draft was Michigan Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards. Edwards was not only at the top of the Browns draft board, he was taken to compliment an up-graded offense, with the addition of two veteran linemen, RB Reuben Droughns, and the expected return by Winslow. The Browns figured they are a long way from getting good on defense, but had a chance to have a pretty potent offense.
Had they known about Droughns' contract demands (they actually probably did know) and that Winslow might not be available for the entire year, would they still have taken Edwards? Probably. But, despite the depth at tight end, the emphasis on the tight end position will be lightened, if Winslow, in fact, is gone for the season.
I couldn't care less about the clause in the contract that probably will cost Winslow millions of dollars. To be honest, he probably got screwed out of millions in incentives last year after the season-ending injury in the second game of the season. While it makes total sense to forfeit money after a non-football related injury, it doesn't seem right that he should have been penalized for an injury that took place on the field. There was criticism of Coach Butch Davis at the time, for putting Winslow in the position to be hurt trying to recover an onside kick. But that is unfair to Davis. Every team puts their ‘hands team' out there in that position, and Winslow probably was the first guy that should have been out there. Imagine the outcry if one of the ‘hands team' members had a chance to recover the kick, but couldn't hang on to it.
But what I do care about is the long suffering and frustrated fans. With a new coach and General Manager, there seemed to be genuine optimism out there. Although we may never know how good Winslow could have been, the fans feel betrayed. The public knows very little about Winslow, except for some ill-advised sound bites during his senior year at Miami, so it is hard to feel bad for him personally right now. But he does owe the fans something---an apology.
If Winslow is out for the season, and perhaps for his career, he gets added to the list of first round failures since the Browns franchise returned in 1999. In addition to injuries to Tim Couch and Courtney Brown, lack of common sense contributed to the failures of Gerard Warren, William Green, and, now, Winslow. In the first six years of the return of the franchise, who would have thought that Jeff Faine would emerge as the most successful first round pick?
Even though Winslow apparently had a permit to drive the motorcycle, a couple of thoughts come to mind. Wouldn't you think he would have mentioned the purchase of the bike to his father? If so, why didn't he put a stop to it? Wouldn't you think some Browns fan out there would have seen Winslow riding the bike? If so, why didn't that fan call the Browns and warn them? And by the way, wouldn't a Browns fan notice that it was Winslow that attempted to get a license several times? I realize the sales guy who sold him the bike wouldn't want to jeopardize the sale, but shouldn't somebody else have noticed?
I guess it boils down to something that should have been said at one time by Yogi Berra. If a guy wants to be stupid, there's nothing we can do to stop him.
‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeastern Ohio. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or www.leslevine.com