- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Wednesday, Thomas blasted the running back for being selfish about his new contract and described the situation with Hillis as "toxic."
"He didn't want to be here and players didn't want him here," Thomas told reporters, via The Plain Dealer. "It was better for a fresh start at that point."
Hillis became a fan favorite in Cleveland in 2010, when he gained 1,177 yards rushing and scored 11 touchdowns. But he quickly fell out of favor the next season, struggling to produce 587 yards and three touchdowns. Hillis went from being an inspiration with his physical running style to being the biggest distraction on an unraveling team.
In addition to the contract mess, he missed a game early in the season with strep throat on the advice of his agent (which caused a controversy over whether or not he was really sick or protesting the lack of a new deal), failed to show up at a local Halloween party for children (which he blamed on a miscommunication) and went home to Arkansas on a Tuesday to get married during the season when he should have been rehabbing an injury.
"(Hillis) went about trying to get a contract a certain way, and it ended up hurting the other 52 guys in the locker room. That was his decision," Thomas said. "He wasn't real popular around here the way he went about his business. Not that they didn't like him as a person, but just the way he hurt the team from not coming to play."
Thomas is one of the most likable players on the team. For him to call out a former teammate, the situation had to be toxic. In the end, the Browns were certainly the winners in this debacle. Cleveland went on to draft Trent Richardson, who should be a top-five back by next season. Hillis went on to sign a one-year, $2.8 million contract with the Chiefs, which isn't the long-term deal that he was so focused on getting.