This whole Peyton Hillis situation has gotten out of hand.
In only a few months time Hillis has gone from local hero to public enemy number one… ok, maybe public enemy number three. I don’t want to discount the “accomplishments” of Art Modell or LeBron James, because this isn’t nearly THAT bad… but still pretty bad. This is a man who Browns nation voted to be on the cover of Madden 12 and now everyone is of the mentality that we’d be better off without him. How insane is that? Only in Cleveland could we take a 1,200 yard rusher and find a reason to hate him.
Then again, not all of this is on the fans. Hillis has played a major role in his recent vilification. Since the end of the lockout he has, in no particular order… bitched about his contract, bitched about his contract some more, sat out a game due to strep throat, possibly sat out because of said contract issue, admitted he sat out at the urging of his agent, played like crap, hurt his hamstring, sat out another game, failed to attend a charity event for kids, and turned down a 3 year $16 million dollar contract offer with a $2.5 million dollar signing bonus.
And they say that the Madden Curse is just a bunch of malarkey. I suppose all of that is just coincidence? In all honesty, it probably is all just a coincidence, but it sure as hell makes you think twice about posing for the cover of Madden ’13… not that any of us have to worry about that.
In all honesty, I think a lot of this is being blown up out of proportion. How many other players get into contract disputes on a yearly basis? It happens time and time again. Nothing about the Peyton Hillis situation is any different from any other contract dispute… except for the fact that this is Cleveland and the anger and frustration pent-up from years of losing helps us build mountains out of mole hills. Throw in the Madden cover fiasco and the fact that Hillis is trying to make bank off of one good year and it really is the perfect storm.
The best remedy for everyone is for Hillis to go out on Sunday and just play football. He needs to get the ball in his hands upwards of 30 times, bowl over some helpless defensive backs, and put up a monster game numberwise. Throw in a Browns victory and there you go. We’re back on the Hillis bandwagon and drooling all over his gargantuan biceps. The NFL is very much a “what have you done for me lately” kind of league. With each and every passing week Hillis further separates himself from the white rhino we saw in 2010 and looks more like some stupid three-toed sloth.
Now, no one is arguing that Hillis doesn’t deserve a raise. I said as much when I wrote about this subject a few weeks ago. What he fails to understand is that while he wants Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson money, he lacks the body of work. To expect to receive $7 million dollars per year is a pipe dream. The Browns were more than fair with their $16 million over three years. If Hillis was smart he would have taken it, especially with how 2011 is playing out. With each and every passing week and poor performance, He’s making it harder and harder for the Browns to justify making that offer a second time.
Speaking of the Browns, one can’t help but feel they’ve mishandled this situation from the start. Given everything that happened last year with Hillis and his meteoric rise to stardom, they should have seen all of this coming. They should have made a better attempt at locking up Hillis long-term before things began spiraling out of control. This hasn’t been just a distraction; a player getting arrested is a distraction. This has been a flippin’ nightmare. Now all hell is breaking loose, the season is falling apart thanks to a lackluster offense, and arguably their best offensive weapon is unhappy. Way to go.
The best part of all of this is the irony involved. Both sides appear to be losing leverage. Does Hillis have increased leverage because the Browns offense has been awful without him and the fact that when he has played he’s only touched the ball a handful of times? Do the Browns have leverage because Hillis had a fluke year last year and now is showing his true colors as a one hit wonder? It’s an interesting argument, but given the lack of depth and playmakers on offense I’m more inclined to side with Hillis on this.
The bottom line in all of this, regardless of where you come out on it, is this… The Browns and Peyton Hillis have to rectify this situation by whatever means necessary. Both sides need each other. More importantly, the fans need them to find a middle ground sooner rather than later. Hillis needs to get out on the field and the Browns need to start winning. It’s as simple and easy as that.
Otherwise the fans are getting their pitchforks and torches ready… and then things will really get ugly.