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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Madden Curse”

Still don’t believe in curses, Cleveland?

Another day, another controversy in the ongoing saga of Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis’ 2011 season with the Cleveland Browns.

Hillis left Friday’s practice after aggravating his injured left hamstring. According to media reports, Hillis took a handoff, ran off right guard, stood straight up and started limping off the field. He then threw the ball and his helmet in frustration.

He walked off the practice field with a trainer.

It’s been one thing after another for Hillis this season, which has been the exact opposite of last season. At this time last year, the Browns and Hillis were getting ready to face the Patriots, a game where Hillis ran for a career-high 184 yards and two TDs in a Browns win.

Now? He’s expected to be out at least a couple of weeks after an MRI this afternoon revealed that he significantly aggravated the muscle.

Not only is Hillis injured, but he’s losing the support of the one group that he needs the most – his teammates.

According to a report at Yahoo Sports, on Wednesday a group of about eight Browns veterans called Hillis into a meeting room for an intervention-style, air-clearing session designed to restore his focus. Supposedly the 25-year-old back’s consuming desire for a new contract has become a locker room distraction and several teammates believe it is holding the team back.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says one Browns veteran. “Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team – but now he’s like a different guy. It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.”

We tried to warn you Cleveland.

“The fact that everyone has to get asked about (Hillis’ situation) by the local beat writers every day, it’s started to create a distraction, and it’s a shame that it has to be that way,” said linebacker Scott Fujita. “I’m never gonna be in a position to question a player’s toughness. I just want him to be healthy and in the right frame of mind to help the team. More than anything else, that’s what our conversation with him was about.”

We really did warn you.

“A few guys tried to talk to him, to make him understand the best way to go about things is to put your head down and do the best you possibly can,” tackle Joe Thomas said. “Because if the Browns aren’t going to pay you, some team will break the bank – and either way you need to play hard.”

Oh boy.

Granted, this isn’t good news, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a silver lining or two here.

It’s good to see the veterans on the team taking ownership of the situation and trying to talk to Hillis. That’s a positive sign and shows that team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have filled the locker room with the right kind of players.

Plus, not to excuse Hillis if he really is pouting, but he’s only 25 and there is a good chance that his actions are at least partially to blame on immaturity.

If he can get healthy and get his head on straight, there shouldn’t be any reason that the Browns can’t count on him.

If not, well there’s a reason why the Browns have two No. 1 picks next season.

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Oh boy, now we’ve done it

Well, we did it Cleveland – Peyton Hillis is the new cover boy for this year’s Madden NFL game.

Oh crap.

Hillis picked up 66 percent of the vote in the final of the 32-player tournament to easily beat Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick.

We tried to warn people – the Madden Curse is real. And now it’s going to roll through Cleveland like Godzilla through Tokyo.

And now Hillis is infected with something worse than the cheese touch.

The Browns better hope Montario Hardesty’s knee is OK and we have no doubt general manager Tom Heckert is hastily reordering his draft board now that the news is out.

Of course, there are some heretics out there who think this is OK. Check them out at your own risk here, and here.

***

The Browns are reportedly (emphasis on the reportedly part) in discussions with Minnesota to trade for the Vikings’ first-round pick (No. 12) in tomorrow night’s NFL Draft.

According to National Football Authority, the Browns are targeting two players and, if they land one of them with their own pick at No. 6, they will be interested in trading with Minnesota if unnamed player No. 2 is available when the Vikings go on the clock.

While that sounds good on paper, the cost of the reported deal is steep: the Browns would give up their second-round pick this year (No. 37) and their No. 1 pick next year.

Now, the Browns clearly need all the help they can get. But is adding a second player at the cost of next year’s No. 1 pick – which could be quite high again as the team is working with a new coaching staff installing a new system – a price worth paying?

We don’t think so. If the team was ready to win now and that one extra player would help put them over the top, we could probably get behind the deal.

But as the team is currently constructed, we’ll take a pass. And we expect the Browns to do the same if the Vikings actually do come calling. (h/t to Cleveland Frowns)

***

Congratulations to Clint Dempsey, who scored twice in Fulham’s 3-0 win over Bolton on Wednesday.

Dempsey is now the Cottagers’ top scorer in the Premier League era with 33 goals. He’s also just one of two U.S. players to score in multiple World Cups, scoring against Ghana in 2006 and England last summer.

You can see video of his two goals here.

***

More good news out of Kent State, as the women’s golf team will play in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament from May 5-7.

The Golden Flashes, winner of their 13th consecutive Mid-American Conference team title, will be one of 24 teams to participate in the Central Regional at Warren Golf Course where the Flashes placed second in October at the Notre Dame Invitational.

Kent State is the 11th seed in a regional where UCLA, Duke, LSU and Arkansas are the top four seeds. The top eight advance to the NCAA Championship at Traditions Golf Course in Texas from May 18-21.

Sorry, but we just can’t do it

Browns running back Peyton Hillis has somehow made it to the finals of an ESPN contest to see who will be on the cover of the Madden NFL 12 video game.

ESPN.com’s SportsNation announced Monday that Hillis earned 61 percent of votes cast to “upset” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Hillis now will face Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick in the finals.

Hillis’ campaign has grown with get out and vote calls from many.

But not from us.

We know it’s just superstition, just a coincidence, there’s no basis in logic or fact, but … the Madden Curse is real. Don’t be swayed by so-called “logic.”

The Browns and Cleveland sports have enough problems without going out and looking for trouble. Why not just start selling Hillis voodoo dolls in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati? Or have a gypsy come to the locker room and give him the evil eye?

With the way things work around here, if Hillis makes the cover he probably won’t even make it to training camp before being stricken by some fluke injury or strange, never-before-seen ailment.

This is Cleveland, after all.

And we’re going to sit this one out.

***

Another reason to like Cleveland is the upcoming opening of the Sports Research Center, which is scheduled to open April 25 in the Cleveland Public Library.

According to The Plain Dealer, the center, the only one of its kind in Northeast Ohio, will showcase the best of Cleveland sports history with more than 25,000 books and magazines and research materials, including old photos, scrapbooks, movies and movie clips.

“We will have more baseball-related material than any other building in the country” except the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Tena Wilson, a library administrator, told The PD. “We’ll be revealing a lot of hidden treasures.”

“Sports are a part of Cleveland DNA,” Felton Thomas, Cleveland Public Library director, said in the article. “Clevelanders either love or hate the changing weather seasons, but they always embrace the start of a new sports season. And this [center] gives fans a chance to travel back into Cleveland sports history to reminisce about a favorite player or game or discover something new about their beloved sports teams and heroes.”

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