Tuesday, October 21, 2008 Updated: October 22, 10:07 AM ET
Browns suspend Winslow one game over critical comments
By James Walker ESPN.com
CLEVELAND -- Less than 48 hours after Kellen Winslow voiced his displeasure with the Cleveland Browns organization, the team opted to discipline its Pro Bowl tight end.
The Browns suspended Winslow for one game without pay following his comments after Sunday's 14-11 loss to the Washington Redskins. Winslow was unhappy with the way the team and Browns general manager Phil Savage publicly handled his staph infection and said he felt like "a piece of meat."
As a result, Winslow will be held out of Sunday's road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3), costing him $235,294 -- his one-game paycheck. Winslow also will not be allowed to practice or attend meetings at the team's facility this week and cannot return until Monday.
"Kellen has expressed his desire to be a productive member of the Cleveland Browns,'' Savage said in a statement. "His comments and behavior on Sunday evening, however, were unwarranted, inappropriate, and unnecessarily disparaging to our organization. His statements brought unjustified negative attention to our organization, and violated the team-first concept of our football squad. Therefore, disciplinary action will be taken in the form of a one-game suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the club."
Winslow has a team-high 21 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown this season. His case of staph was the sixth known infection with the Browns in the past few seasons.
"I spoke out on this because I felt it was the right thing to do and that is why I was so passionate about it," Winslow said in a statement. "This has nothing to do with football and this has nothing to with my current contract situation. This is a health concern."
Winslow has three years remaining on his deal, which was reworked in 2006. He's making $4 million this season and has base salaries of $4.5 million in 2009 and $4.75 million in 2010.
Walker: Winslow trade in '09?
The more this year is progressing, the more we are convinced that this is the final year for Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. in a Cleveland Browns uniform, writes ESPN.com's James Walker. Blog
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Browns receivers Joe Jurevicius and Braylon Edwards are two current members of the team who also recently had staph infections in what has become an increasingly hot topic in Cleveland this week.
"As an organization, we have worked hard to ensure the safety and well-being of our players,'' Savage said. "Consistent with this effort, we have consulted the team's medical experts to ensure that any instances of staph infections are evaluated and treated thoroughly and expeditiously, and in accordance with the recommended standard of care. Further, steps have been and continue to be taken on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis to protect our players and personnel at our training facility and stadium."
Savage said the players have been educated on the risks of staph, and that during training camp the entire team took part in an extensive presentation by infectious disease experts.
"Kellen was in attendance at that meeting," Savage said. "Since that meeting, not one player has approached me, Romeo Crennel, or our medical staff with concerns as to how we have dealt with this issue."
On Monday, Crennel said he was disappointed by Winslow's decision to take his problems to the media and said he would consult with Savage before levying any punishment.
Savage defended the Browns' handling of Winslow's hospital stay.
"The Cleveland Browns are committed to winning and taking care of our players," he said. "We are also committed to protecting the privacy of our players, particularly with regard to medical issues. To that end, following discussions with Kellen Winslow and his representation, the Browns agreed to make every effort to maintain the confidentiality of his recent medical condition."
Despite the brief saga with the Browns, Winslow said he is still on board with trying to make the team the best it can be.
"Please understand I care deeply for my organization, my teammates, and the Browns fans. At no time was I ever trying to cause distress for the team or be a distraction but the fact remains there is a health issue that needs to be addressed further," Winslow said. "I hope to be a Brown for a very long time. I know that the organization and I can move forward and focus on having a successful season, which I believe everybody agrees upon."
James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.