Peyton Hillis defends decision to sit

Updated: September 29, 2011, 10:04 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- Peyton Hillis was too sick to play Sunday, and the Browns running back doesn't feel like he needs to provide a doctor's note to prove it.

Hillis spoke in detail Thursday for the first time since missing last week's game against Miami with a case of strep throat and flu-like symptoms. After staying at the team hotel on Saturday night, Hillis went to Browns Stadium intending to play but was sent home two hours before kickoff.

Hillis defended the decision for him to miss the game, and said he's isn't concerned if others feel he should have played despite his illness.

"The people that really care about me and want the best for me would understand," he said. "And the people that don't, then they don't. But I can't control that. And I'm going to do what's best for me at that point. If it's going to jeopardize my health in that situation, I'm going to take my own life in my own hands and do the best I can."

Hillis said he lost "10 to 12" pounds while he was ill, and that he has put some of the weight back on. He explained that after getting to the stadium he realized he hadn't recovered enough to dress for the game.

"My weight wasn't there. My energy wasn't there," he said. "'I knew it wasn't my time that day. Me and the doctors talked it over and they probably didn't think it was the best thing to go out there. It was very disheartening. I know I'm not 100 percent, then I know I can't give it my all. I didn't want to hurt the team."

Second-year back Montario Hardesty made his first NFL start in Hillis' place and ran for 67 yards to help the Browns win 17-16.

It's not known if Cleveland's coaches tried to convince Hillis to play, and the bruising back sidestepped that question.

"I don't know if that took place or not," he said. "I think they're more in-tune with how I was feeling and what I was feeling and if I was sick or not."

Browns running back coach Gary Brown has no doubt Hillis was too ill to play.

"I know that he's a stand-up person and I know that he would die for this football team," Brown said. "He was sick and couldn't go. Trust me, he was going to do everything he could to go."

Hillis said he didn't see much of Cleveland's game on TV. The Browns had to rally in the fourth quarter after playing poorly most of the game.

"I slept through the first three-and-a-half quarters," he said, cracking a smile. "I was just in time for the last drive. I guess that was the only part we needed to watch. It was great to pull out that win."

Hillis, who pounded his way to 1,177 yards last season, said he dismisses any questions about his durability.

"People just make suggestions and accusations just because they can," he said. "They don't know me, they don't know my body. I go out there and play hard, but for me, I really think I'm very durable."

The 25-year-old returned to practice on Wednesday and expects to play Sunday when the Browns host Tennessee.

"I'm 100 percent now," he said. "I'm anxious and ready to get back out there."

Hillis was again asked about ongoing contract negotiations between his agent and the Browns on an extension. The sides have given no indication if they're close to a deal.

The team has signed four other players to extensions in the past month.

"I know other people may think differently, but it's really out of my mind," Hillis said. "I don't care. If the Browns wanted to extend me, they would. That really puts the ball in my court. I've got to go out there and produce. All I can do is what I can control. I can just go out there and play."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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