Four months ago it was easy to be angry with Kellen Winslow Jr. for getting on a motorcycle and crashing it, ending his season and taking away a vital weapon for the Browns.
On Tuesday Winslow told a throng of reporters he knew he was violating his contract by riding the crotch rocket, but he did it anyway because he thought he was invincible.
If you want to still be angry with Winslow, go ahead. You buy the tickets. You buy the Browns gear and you are the ones who live and die with your football team every Sunday.
But me, I feel pity for Winslow. He is just a shadow of the man the Browns drafted just two years ago, stricken with a staph infection.
Sitting at his locker Tuesday, he looked lucky to be alive. He says he weighs 225 pounds. I wish a scale had been in the next stall, because it would have been interesting to see him stand on it.
You might say if Winslow hadn't been stupid enough to ride the motorcycle in the first place he would not be in the shape he's in today. Fair enough, but a staph infection can be spread many ways, and no one deserves a setback like the one challenging Winslow now. Anyway, if you're heart is truly with the Browns and you're not vindictive, you would want Winslow back as soon as possible so he can contribute next season. He said he hopes to be fully recovered by February.
Winslow is a fighter. You have to give him that. In a way that's why he got on the motorcycle in the first placed. He isn't going to sit in a chair and watch life pass him by.
Likewise, he is going to do everything he can to come back from not only the knee surgery but now this. His voice was small Tuesday, just like his body frame, but standing there listening to him one gets the idea if anyone can bounce back, it's Winslow.
"It was a mistake what happened," Winslow said. "I have to prove to Cleveland and to myself mostly that I can come back. I'm determined I will. I'm disappointed I'm not playing this year, but it will fly by. I just have to deal with it."
The staph infection prevents Winslow from lifting weights. If he does a catheter in his left arm used to treat him with antibiotics could come out. It has to be frustrating for him, because he started working out the day after he was discharged from Cleveland Clinic, where he stayed until nine days after his accident.
Winslow spends time with his teammates - or the players that would be his teammates if he were in uniform - but it isn't the same thing as being on the team and sharing in those wins and losses. When the losses start, Winslow will feel guilty because he'll know he could have made a difference. When the Browns win, he will feel like a party crasher.
Still, the players respect Winslow because he admitted he made a mistake and apologized for it. They saw him working to get better before this staph infection hit six weeks ago, so they know he is sincere. He has been given clearance to start lifting next week. He has to put 30 pounds back on and get some color back to even resemble the player the Browns still have faith in.
"I play video games," Winslow said with a smile when asked what he does at the training complex since he can't lift or run. "I play Madden all day. They know I'm the best."
It was good to hear Winslow talking about being the best at something. It means the fire hasn't died.