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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

International Man of Mystery

Over the years we have seen more than our fair share of strange moments in Cleveland sports.

From Ten Cent Beer Night, to an Indians player breaking into the umpire’s room to retrieve a teammate’s confiscated bat to Bottlegate, to Dwayne Rudd’s helmet toss, there has been no shortage of interesting times.

But even by Cleveland’s standards, we weren’t really prepared for Thursday’s news about Peyton Hillis.

A day after Hillis split with Kennard McGuire, his third agent change in the past year, ESPN’s Adam Schefter cited unnamed sources in reporting that Hillis told Browns coaches at the end of last season that he was thinking of retiring and possibly joining the CIA.

OK, then.

Hillis’ desire to retire and become an international man of mystery was news to Browns coach Pat Shurmur.

“Peyton and I spoke frequently throughout the year and we never discussed any of those topics for sure,” Shurmur told The Beacon Journal. “Beyond that, I really can’t comment. It’s somebody saying something. But as far as he and I, we never discussed his retirement.”

On Wednesday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the team is still interested in working out a deal with Hillis, although they are not going to franchise him (no surprise there).

“If we can work something out with Peyton, we will,” Heckert said. “Did he have some rough patches during the season? Yes. Were there stretches where things were blown out of proportion? Yes. Honestly, I feel like a lot of that was blown up in the media. Now, of course, things will still come down to the money, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

The good news for the Browns is the other 31 teams in the National Football League are reading these same reports, making it more unlikely that a team will hand Hillis a big-money contract when free agency opens on March 13. If the Browns are only bidding against themselves, they will be able to bring Hillis back on a very team-friendly deal.

The bad part, of course, is the Browns may be investing money in a player who may no longer have the desire needed to play the game at the NFL level.

Everything surrounding Hillis this past year – from missing a game with strep throat, to firing agents, to everything else – comes across to us as someone who is immature more than anything else. Hillis doesn’t seem to be a trouble maker in the sense of someone who is going to end up facing a suspension of anything – just someone that needs to grow up a bit.

If the Browns bring him back on a one or two-year deal without a lot of guaranteed money, we could live with that. When healthy and focused, Hillis can still be an asset to the offense – especially considering the alternatives currently on the roster.

***

In the least surprising news of the day, the Indians announced that center fielder Grady Sizemore will be out eight to 12 weeks after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on his back in Miami.

“First of all, I feel bad for Grady,” Indians manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal. “It seems like he can’t catch a break the last couple of years. But reports from the surgeon say that we could have him back for the majority of the season.

“What this does is open a spot for someone. I’m very happy with the amount of guys here. Are we a better team with Grady? Of course, but I’m satisfied with the guys in camp.”

According to WebMD.com, microdiscectomy is a “procedure involves removing a herniated disc or damaged portion of a disc through an incision in the back. The difference is that the incision is much smaller and the doctor uses a magnifying microscope or lenses to locate the disc through the incision. The smaller incision may reduce pain and the disruption of tissues, and it reduces the size of the surgical scar. It appears to take about the same time to recuperate from a microdiscectomy as from a traditional discectomy.”

The news can’t be surprising to the Indians, who deep down had to wonder if Sizemore could come back healthy when they signed him to a one-year deal for $5 million.

“We understood there were some risks when we signed him,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “That’s why we tried to build in some other choices. (Sizemore) has no history of back injury,” Antonetti said.

But Sizemore does have a history of injuries. The latest surgery brings Sizemore’s total to six since 2009 – he’s had work done on his left elbow, both knees and twice for sports hernias.

Over the weekend, when it was first announced that Sizemore hurt his back during fielding drills, we weren’t too concerned as we weren’t expecting him to make it through a full season anyway. But after this latest setback we have to wonder if Sizemore has finally reached a point where he is broken beyond repair.

Even if he does eventually take the field this summer, how likely is it that he will have anything left to give?

***

How is it that the media isn’t making a bigger deal about the reason that San Diego’s Kris Dielman had to retire on Thursday?

Dielman, a lineman for nine years with the Chargers, suffered a concussion in an Oct. 23 game against the New York Jets and was allowed on the team’s flight home where he suffered a gran mal seizure on the flight. He didn’t play another game again.

The media lost its collective mind and crucified the Browns when the team inadvertently allowed Colt McCoy to re-enter the Pittsburgh game because they didn’t realize he had a concussion. The Chargers let someone with a concussion on an airplane and he almost dies, but no one says anything about it?

What are we missing here?

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