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Here's your exclusive pass inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection meeting

Jan 31, 2015 -- 9:14pm

By Tony Grossi

PHOENIX, AZ

At 7 a.m. Mountain time on Saturday morning, Big David Baker, executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, informed the 46 selectors of a “hard deadline” of 4 p.m. to pare down 18 finalists to the maximum of eight to comprise the Class of 2015.

We made it by eight minutes, after a record 8-hour, 52-minute selection meeting.

At 3:52 p.m., the final paper ballots were collected by the nine accountants from Deloitte & Touche clad in black suits and ties and white shirts.

Our work was done, but not even the selectors knew the final class until it was announced on the NFL Honors show on NBC later Saturday night.

The Class of 2015 revealed was Mick Tinglehoff, Bill Polian, Ron Wolf, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Junior Seau and Will Shields.

Tinglehoff, the ironman center on the Minnesota Vikings Purple People Eaters teams of the 1970s, was the senior nominee. He finally made it in his 32nd year of eligibility.

Polian and Wolf, two of the NFL’s greatest general managers, were the first-ever nominees from the newly formed contributors category. Their empeccable credentials belied the amount of time spent discussing their candidacies. The discussion of Polian, who built Super Bowl teams with Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis, ate up 51 ½ minutes – the longest of the meeting. Wolf’s discussion lasted 22:40.

After that slow start, the committee was forced into a hurry-up mode to make up ground. Here are the clock times on length of discussion on the candidates, in the order they were presented:

1. Mick Tingelhoff, 12 minutes, 55 seconds.

2. Bill Polian, 51:30.

3. Ron Wolf, 22:40.

4. Jerome Bettis, 23:34.

5. Terrell Davis, 19:54.

6. Kevin Greene, 20:51.

7. Junior Seau, 7:15.

8. Kurt Warner, 39:38.

9. Don Coryell, 16:06.

10. Tony Dungy, 33:12.

11. Jimmy Johnson, 18:55.

12. Morten Andersen, 13:20.

13. Tim Brown, 13:17.

14. Marvin Harrison, 12:24.

15. John Lynch, 11:37.

16. Charles Haley, 23:19.

17. Orlando Pace, 17:02.

18. Will Shields, 14:36.

The dilemma every year at this meeting is who to eliminate. All are deserving. This time, the hardest discussions focused on Bettis v. Davis, Brown v. Harrison, Greene v. Haley, and Pace v. Shields. We are free to elect more than one player at the same position. But the prevailing sentiment is that it takes extraordinary “no-brainer” candidates to double-up at the same position in the same class.

Thus, Bettis edged Davis on longevity; Brown beat out Harrison and Haley beat out Greene based on the “pecking order” – they were knocking on the door longer – and Shields, the 12-time Pro Bowl guard with Kansas City, bested Pace, of Sandusky and Ohio State, on pure achievement and also that he had been in the finalist round before.

The coaches – Coryell, Dungy and Johnson – received thorough review. Dungy’s discussion was longer than the others because of the historical significance of being the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl and also his impact on the coaching profession and the NFL even after retirement.

The format was to vote on the senior nominee (Tingelhoff) and the contributors at the start of the meeting. The grueling Hall of Fame process requires yes votes from 80 percent of the committee to earn induction, meaning 40 of 46 affirmative votes from the selectors. Just seven no votes can block a nominee.

The 15 modern-era candidates then are pared to 10 on a paper ballot. The candidates eliminated in the first vote were Andersen, Coryell, Davis, Johnson and Lynch.

Before the next cut from 10 to five, presenters – the media members who lead the discussion on each candidate – are permitted one final comment to support their candidate. The key point made in this round, in my opinion, was that Brown also had a major impact on punt and kickoff returns, while Harrison did not.

The candidates who were eliminated on the cutdown to five were Dungy, Greene, Harrison, Pace and Warner.

There were two surprises to me. One was that Pace fell short in his first year of eligibility. The reason, as always, was a matter of numbers. Shields, eminently qualified, had been knocking on the door for four years. Shields overcame being the last nominee discussed, which can be a negative in an 8-plus hour meeting.

Warner had six really great seasons in a 12-year career. I felt that was enough and believe he ultimately will be voted in. Again, it’s excruciating to leave out any of the finalists, but there’s only so many spots.

 

 

Tony Grossi's Four Downs: Gronk, not Tom Brady, is the key player for the Patriots

Jan 31, 2015 -- 1:10pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

PHOENIX, AZ

Four Downs on Super Bowl 49

First down: Where’s Gronk?

Tight end Rob Gronkowski (82 receptions, 1,124 yards, 12 TD in regular season; 10, 136, 2 in postseason) may be the single most important Patriots player in the game. Not Tom Brady? For years, Brady has struggled to deliver the ball to his outside receivers, who are no great shakes to begin with. Gronkowski has been the big playmaker in the passing game and when he is neutered or injured, Brady suffers and the offense sputters. Gronkowski played with a bad ankle in his only other Super Bowl appearance in 2012 and was ineffective (two catches, 26 yards). Brady couldn’t muster a point in the fourth quarter and lost, 21-17, to the Giants. If the Seahawks take away Gronkowski with some physical jamming by safety Kam Chancellor or linebacker K.J. Wright, Brady will be unable to get the ball outside and move the chains. So the Patriots are likely to move Gronkowski around to set up some favorable matchups. If Gronkowski lines up wide, cornerback Richard Sherman may cover him and that may free up receiver Julian Edelman or Brandon LaFell. Remember, the Browns were able to bottle up Gronkowski with safety T.J. Ward in a loss in 2013 and Ward knocked Gronk out of the game with a helmet to a knee.

Second down: Beast Mode and more.

The Patriots ranked 9th against the rush, but didn’t face many premier backs. Miami’s Knowshon Moreno and Kansas City’s Knile Davis each hit them with over 100 yards, and the Pats lost both games. Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy had 98 in a loss to the Packers. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch will be in Beast Mode and presents the Patriots’ biggest challenge defensively. Lynch averaged 4.7 yards a carry in the season and 5.5 in the two postseason games. If Lynch were the only dimension to the Seahawks’ offense, I’m confident Bill Belichick could devise the scheme to stop it. But the uniqueness of Seattle’s running game is quarterback Russell Wilson’s expert execution of the zone read. His 849 yards on the ground ranked higher than 34 full-time running backs. Plus, Wilson’s ability to throw equally well on the run or from the pocket is a dynamic that, added with Lynch, makes the Seahawks one of the toughest offenses to defend.

Third down: Proliferation of trickeration.

Both teams are innovative and daring and have been unabashed in using deception and trick plays. The Seahawks executed a successful fake punt for a touchdown and an onside kick during their comeback from a 16-0 deficit against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. The Patriots recently have employed an unorthodox formation, a few times, using four offensive linemen to deceive defenses into confusion about which players are eligible receivers and which are ineligible. Belichick exploited that advantage against the Ravens in a playoff game, but it wore off and was ineffective against the Colts. Supposedly, the officials in this game will signify to the defense which receivers are eligible. It may lead to Belichick trying something else while the Seahawks are overly concerned with covering an eligible tackle. Also, remember Belichick is not shy about using defensive players in offensive formations and getting them the ball.

Fourth down: History will be made.

Whichever team wins will etch its name in the NFL history books beyond just joining the list of 49 Super Bowl winners. The Seahawks can become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since the Patriots in 2004. Coach Pete Carroll can be the first man to win two college football national championships and two Super Bowl championships. And Wilson can be the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl two times. On the Patriots’ side, Belichick can join Pittsburgh’s Chuck Noll as the only four-time Super Bowl winner and quarterback Tom Brady can join Pittsburgh’s Terry Bradshaw and San Francisco’s Joe Montana as the only QBs to win four.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Super Bowl Game Preview: Which team will make history in Super Bowl 49?

Jan 31, 2015 -- 1:00pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photos/ESPN

PHOENIX, AZ

What: New England Patriots (14-4) v. Seattle Seahawks (14-4), 6:30 p.m., in University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ.

TV: NBC, WKYC-TV 3 with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.

The set-up: Super Bowl 49 features the top seeds of each conference -- two teams that are familiar to the big stage. The Patriots are making their sixth Super Bowl appearance in the 15-year partnership of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. That’s two more appearances than any other coach-quarterback tandem in history. The Seahawks are the defending champions and are seeking to become the NFL’s first to repeat since the Patriots in 2004. There’s more history to be made by the Patriots, though. A win would tie Belichick with Pittsburgh’s four Super Bowl coaching victories and tie Brady with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana for most Super Bowl wins.

Series history: Tied, 8-8. They have never met in the post-season.

Historical footnote: The only meeting of the teams with Belichick and Carroll as coaches occurred in Week 6 of the 2012 season in CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The Patriots controlled most of the game but scored only one TD in six possessions in the red zone. The Patriots held a 21-10 lead until the final 7:21, when rookie Russell Wilson put together two touchdown drives to win, 24-23. The winning score came on a 46-yard pass to Sidney Rice with 1:18 to go. What’s more noteworthy, however, is that the first TD of the comeback was caught by none other than Braylon Edwards on a 10-yard pass. Yes, Edwards finished his career with the Seahawks, and that TD grab would be the last one of 40 in his eight years in the NFL.

Patriots update: Since losing to Kansas City, 41-14, in Week 4, they won 10 of their 12 regular-season games by an average margin of 11.2 points. Then they scored 35 and 45 in playoff wins over Baltimore and Indianapolis. Belichick created confusion in the two playoff games by employing, on occasion, an offensive alignment that keeps defenses guessing as to which players were eligible receivers and which were ineligible. The strategy helped ignite New England’s second of two 14-point comebacks in the win v. Baltimore, but was less effective against Indianapolis. The Patriots have lost their last two Super Bowl appearances, both times against the Giants following the 2007 and 2011 seasons. But the difference this time is tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy and the defense has Darrelle Revis, one of the sport’s premier cornerbacks, in the secondary.

Seahawks update: Like the Patriots, they struggled early and were 3-3 after back-to-back losses in October. Then they rolled off nine wins in their last 10 games – holding six opponents under 10 points and stormed into the playoffs as the No. 1 NFC seed. After trouncing Carolina, 31-17, they needed a near-miraculous comeback to defeat Green Bay, 28-22, in overtime, as Russell Wilson overcame four interceptions and tossed the winning touchdown. They boasted the league’s top rushing game, led by Marshawn Lynch, the best overall defense, best defense against the pass, and the best scoring defense. Also, their plus-1.9-yard differential of average yards per rush v. average allowed was first in the NFL. They had 1,458 more rushing yards than their opponents, including 849 from Wilson. In the NFC Championship Game, they executed a fake punt for a touchdown and an onside kick to help erase a 16-0 deficit.

Injury report: Patriots – C Bryan Stork (knee) is questionable; LB Akeem Ayers (knee), QB Tom Brady (ankle), LB Donta’a Hightower (shoulder), DT Chris Jones, CB Darrelle Revis (not injury related), and DT Sealver Siliga (foot) are probable. Seahawks – OT Justin Britt (knee) SS Kam Chancellor (knee), RB Marshawn Lynch (back), CB Richard Sherman (elbow), FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) and RG J.R. Sweezy (ankle) are probable.

Our take: Both teams are at the top of their games. But if Rob Gronkowski is taken away from Tom Brady, he hasn’t shown that he can deliver the ball to the outside receivers to loosen up the middle of the field. The Seahawks will suffocate Brady’s passing game and won’t let LeGarrette Blount beat them on the ground. Seattle’s passing game is more diversified and, because of Wilson’s scrambling and ability to throw on the run, more unpredictable.

Prediction: Seahawks dominate, 28-16.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Mike Lombardi's reunion with Bill Belichick at the Super Bowl is another sucker punch to Cleveland

Jan 30, 2015 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

PHOENIX, AZ

The Morning Kickoff …

In the shadows: Mike Lombardi’s visibility at Super Bowl 49, much like during his 11-month stint as Browns general manager, is very understated.

Lombardi has not been available for interviews at the New England Patriots press sessions all week. This would be ironic because Lombardi was terribly frustrated by the muzzle former Browns CEO Joe Banner wrapped on him. But it is understood when you agree to work for Patriots coach Bill Belichick that you must only do “your job,” and Lombardi’s job created by Belichick does not include speaking to the media.

When Lombardi was fired by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on Feb. 11, 2014, it took exactly two days for him to be linked to Belichick and nine days for him to be hired by the coach who originally tabbed him as his top personnel aide 20 years ago.

In Cleveland, they shared Belichick’s first-ever playoff victory as a head coach – and the Browns’ last – and now they are reunited as Belichick, the NFL’s all-time winningest coach in terms of post-season wins, goes after his fourth Super Bowl victory in six appearances.

This time around, Lombardi was given the nebulous title of “assistant to the coaching staff.” What exactly does that mean?

“Good question,” said one long-time New England media insider. “When you find out, let me know.”

Another said, “It’s very intriguing. Mike’s like a liaison between the coaches and personnel. He is on the practice field. He sits in position meetings. On game days, he is in the coaches box upstairs. It’s very innovative how Bill uses Mike.”

The young old gang: Belichick’s top aides for some time have been offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and director of player personnel Nick Caserio. The two former John Carroll University teammates have been groomed by Belichick since joining the Patriots 13 years ago.

McDaniels left for an ill-fated, two-year stint as Denver head coach and returned in 2012 to rehabilitate his NFL career. Lombardi is now doing the same.

When I asked McDaniels what is Lombardi’s role, his answer surprised me.

“I don’t know if I can accurately tell you,” McDaniels said. “I mean, I don’t know that I know all the things he does because I know he works with Bill and does a lot of different things there.

“For us, he really helps us to prepare for the opponent, gathering information and putting together how we feel about the opposing team. Mike’s obviously got an extensive background in evaluating and he’s seen a lot of different things over the course of time. There’s a lot of things that we use him for as we get familiar with the team we’re going to play.”

McDaniels said that ever since he has been Belichick’s main play-caller on offense, Caserio, who started with the Patriots as an offensive coach before switching to personnel (a la Ozzie Newsome), has been the person in the coach’s booth who talks to him in the headphones during games. Lombardi may listen, but does not speak.

Another Belichick assistant coach, Brian Daboll, the former Browns’ offensive coordinator under Eric Mangini, explained Lombardi’s role this way, “He’s kind of everywhere. Whatever Bill needs him to do, that’s kind of his role.”

Yet another coach who rejoined Belichick after breaking out on his own, Scott O’Brien, the special teams coordinator, said of Lombardi, “He does a lot of projects. He does a really good job of breaking down personnel, opponent’s personnel. Michael’s always with us every day, on the practice field, in our staff meetings. His input goes both ways, both sides of the ball, and with Bill, too.”

Freed from dysfunction: In Cleveland, Banner and Lombardi were a marriage of convenience. Banner wanted to run football operations and Lombardi just wanted back into a team headquarters after being exiled for five years writing blogs and appearing as an analyst on NFL Network.

Lombardi’s brief run as Browns’ general manager ended when he and Banner sparred during the coaching search that produced Mike Pettine. Haslam took note of it and decided to replace Lombardi with Ray Farmer as GM and eliminate Banner’s position.

After another troubling year for the Browns, Banner and Lombardi came off as sages for trading plodding running back Trent Richardson in 2013 and for wanting to trade serial suspended receiver Josh Gordon, only to be blocked, reportedly, by Haslam.

And then Lombardi moves on to Belichick’s side, and the Patriots somehow land a more promising quarterback in the second round with the 62nd overall pick, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady’s heir, than the Browns took in the first with the 22nd pick, Johnny Manziel.

And Lombardi winds up in the Super Bowl.

And the Browns change again on offense, launch another search for a quarterback, and raise ticket prices.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Sacrifices paid off for former Browns special teamer Nick Sorensen, now pursuing second Super Bowl title as an assistant coach with Seahawks

Jan 29, 2015 -- 5:26pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ESPN

PHOENIX, AZ

Extra Points …

Living a dream: Like many players whose careers end before they want, Nick Sorensen couldn’t get football out of his blood.

His love for the game is the reason he is at Super Bowl 49 on the brink of a second championship ring as assistant special teams coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Sorensen was a special teams ace for the Browns from 2007 through 2011. Despite suffering multiple concussions with symptoms that still haunt him today, Sorensen sacrificed family life and income to chase a coaching career.

In 2012, three days after the birth of his second son, Sorensen departed for San Francisco to serve a training camp coaching internship under former Browns special teams coach Brad Seeley. After the summer, he talked his way into a volunteer coaching position at Youngstown State that kept him away from his young family for five days a week. His wife, Danielle, is from Twinsburg.

That gave him some needed experience in using computers to scout and formulate game plans. Sorensen’s agent kept in contact with coaches and general managers, and Sorensen visited the Senior Bowl to hunt for a job. Shortly thereafter, GM John Schneider came through with an opening on the Seahawks’ staff.

“It’s been awesome,” Sorensen said in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl headquarters hotel. “Coach (Pete Carroll) is awesome, so proactive and positive and our players just embrace it. It’s just fun, challenging, competitive. It’s never a task. You enjoy every day.”

Sorensen said he still experiences piercing migraine headaches that occur at greater frequency than when he played. He said he manages them with Excedrin and coffee, but no other treatment has helped.

“I’ll get blurred vision and if I don’t take Excedrin in the first 30 minutes I’ll start vomiting for 5-6 hours,” he said.

Sorensen said the physical impairments from a 10-year football career are worth it to him. He hopes to continue his coaching career, whether it’s in the NFL or at any level.

“I’m still young (36 years old). I love football, so what else could I want? This is great,” Sorensen said.

He remembers his five years with the Browns fondly, though there was little winning after his first season of 2007.

“My first year there we were 10-6, just missed the playoffs, and it was awesome,” Sorensen said. “I came from Jacksonville. We were 12-4, and we still had some (TV) blackouts (because of non-sellouts). So to me Clevealnd was like being in college again. You just felt bad you couldn’t win for the fans.”

Johnny, take note: Because of his amazing success, Russell Wilson is held up as the hope for “height-challenged” quarterbacks. But Johnny Manziel should heed Wilson’s answer to my question on the secrets to his success.

“I think the secret to my succeeding on the field is my preparation,” said the Seahawks’ quarterback. “I really work at my craft. My height doesn’t define my skillset. I don’t think there’s a certain variable to the height. I’m not sure you can go much shorter than me, though. I’m … I don’t know, 5-10 7/8, 5-11, whatever you want to say … so for me, I just don’t think my height defines my skillset.

“I think there’s a lot more to my game that I try to bring to the table. There’s a lot of things that I really work on – my footwork, my timing, understanding the intellectual side of the game, understanding where people are going to be, understanding the defense, what the coverage looks like, where they’re strong, where their weaknesses are. Just having great instincts. I think God’s given me great instincts.”

Browns inflation-gate: The Browns are raising ticket prices for the first time since 2008.

Former owner Randy Lerner always resisted pressure from other owners to raise prices during losing years. Succeeding owner Jimmy Haslam held out for two full seasons, also losing ones, before increasing the cost of most tickets.

According to the club, the Browns ranked 31st in average ticket price the past two seasons.

The club announcement did not detail the pricing structure and which seating areas suffered the increases. It did note that the price was kept the same or lowered for approximately 8,350 seats.

“We are very sensitive to fan affordability as we recognize and greatly appreciate our fans’ commitment to support the Browns and build the best home-field advantage,” Browns President Alec Scheiner said. “We continue to work towards our primary goals: building a winning football team and creating the best fan experience in the NFL. While we have made progress, clearly we know we have work to do.”

No joke: The Browns confirmed the addition of Joker Phillips as wide receivers coach. Phillips, 51, played the position in the NFL and has an extensive coaching background in college. Most recently the head coach at University of Kentucky, Phillips worked with new Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in 2001 at Notre Dame. DeFilippo was a graduate assistant that season.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Josh Gordon reveals failed test came after drinking with teammates on flight to Las Vegas

Jan 29, 2015 -- 3:05pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

PHOENIX, AZ

Josh Gordon’s Browns’ and NFL career is in doubt because of a drinking party with teammates on a private plane en route to Las Vegas on Jan. 2.

That was the admission Gordon made in an unusual open letter posted on The Cauldron, an online magazine, and addressed to critics Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith and Cris Carter, who have expressed concern and disgust with Gordon on their national media platforms.

Gordon’s main themes were that he is not addicted to marijuana or alcohol, is not careening toward death, and his only problem was that “I messed up” in his life-long battle to overcome growing up in poverty and without a father.

Gordon expressed deep regret for failing his team, the fans, the city of Cleveland, his family, his friends but mostly for failing “myself … again.”

Gordon wrote that he has not smoked marijuana since before the Browns drafted him in the supplemental draft of 2012 – “and there are years’ worth of drug tests to prove it.”

He wrote that his league suspension of last season was the result of inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. He explained the original league suspension was eight games, but two games were tacked on as a result of the DWI arrest he had in July.

Gordon wrote that the terms of the reduced suspension called for him to agree to abstaining from alcohol and submitting to alcohol testing. He wrote that he “mistakenly” thought the alcohol ban expired at the end of the season.

Gordon wrote that on Jan. 2 – five days after the Browns’ season ended -- he joined teammates, whom he did not identify, on a private flight to Las Vegas. A brief video posted on Instagram shows that former Browns receivers coach Mike McDaniel also was on the flight.

“During the flight, I had two beers and two drinks,” Gordon wrote. “It was the first time I had consumed so much as a drop of alcohol since July 4, 2014, the day of the DWI.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I am not much of a drinker. Even calling me a social drinker would be an exaggeration, but at that moment, on that flight, I made a choice. The wrong choice, as it turned out.

“Upon landing, I received the all-too-familiar notice by phone that I was to report to a testing location within four hours. I failed the test, obviously, and the rest is history … colored by media speculation and faux outrage.”

By failing the terms of his reinstatement, Gordon faces a one-year ban from the NFL. He can apply for reinstatement upon passing all the checkpoints, tests and counseling required in the NFL’s collectively bargained substance abuse policy.

“What comes next is uncertain,” Gordon wrote. “I haven’t decided whether to appeal the latest suspension. That’s a matter for my agent and me to discuss.”

Gordon admonished “those of you who traffic in lies and innuendo over fact, with seemingly no consequences for your actions … I really don’t know how you get away with it.

“What I do know is the following: I am not a drug addict; I am not an alcoholic; I am not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete. And … I am not going to die on account of the troubled state you wrongly believe my life to be in. I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. I make mistakes — I have made a lot of mistakes — but I am a good person, and I will persevere.”

A Browns spokesperson wrote in an email response that the Browns would have no comment on Gordon’s revelations.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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