The final whistle had barely been blown on the Browns' second straight calamitous collapse when the word quitters was first uttered after the Broncos game. In the locker room, Jamal Lewis stopped short of pointing fingers but said he believed some guys had quit, that some guys hadn't checked their ego at the door. Not only is he the sort of dude that can get away with that stuff, his rep and resume mean his words carry weight.
Then Josh Cribbs chimed in with a similar sentiment, which was followed by the requisite denials from Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage. Internet rumors suggested Lewis was talking about defensive end Shaun Smith, an accusation Smith laughed off. But beyond that, no single player was named.
After reviewing the videotape, I find it hard to believe no one else has seen what I have. It's easy to single out the players who quit. The behavior exhibited by certain Browns was so utterly egregious, it's like they weren't even trying to hide it.
Let's go to the evidence.
Phil Dawson: One wouldn't expect this vet to throw in the towel, but there he was in the fourth quarter, sitting on the bench getting a pedicure. When Crennel asked if he was ready to kick, Dawson replied: "Nuh uh, honey. Not with these nails."
Josh Cribbs: While the Browns' all-purpose special-teams superstar deserves praise for standing up and calling it likes he sees it, his timing could still use some work. Maybe not the best idea to film a videotaped confessional about the situation for your reality television show while still on the sidelines.
Joe Thomas: Late in the third quarter, Thomas noticed an unusually high number of pigeons in the upper reaches of the stadium. He disappeared into the locker room only to return with a rifle and camouflage. He spent the fourth quarter hunting.
Kellen Winslow: The Browns tight end left at halftime so he could be first in line for the pre-release of Call of Duty: World at War.
Brady Quinn: It's common for the quarterback to get on the phone on the sideline and talk to the offensive coordinator sitting in the booth. It's not common, however, to get on the phone to John McCain to talk through your post-election blues while your coordinator gets a busy signal. Shaun Rogers: Concerned about his life after his playing days are over, Rogers took an official timeout to wander over to the sidelines to ask Warren Sapp for some tips on how to land a gig on Dancing With the Stars. The two were seen doing the mambo moments later.
Romeo Crennel: After finally hearing the rumor that Bill Cowher had bought a house in Strongsville, Crennel ditched the game during the third quarter to see if he couldn't convince the Chin to coach the fourth for him. Driving around with no success and not wanting to return to the stadium, Crennel took refuge at a local Arby's.
Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders: Here are two guys that struggled to make the roster all year. Active for the Denver game, they asked to go back on the practice squad effective at halftime.
Randy Lerner: The Browns' owner has tried to stay out of the public eye since taking over the team. He's never been a distraction, never a flashy, emotional guy - which is why it was strange when he had the game officially stopped so his helicopter could land at midfield to get him the hell out of there.
And these were just the worst of the bunch. That's not even including Ryan Tucker getting a new tattoo on the bench, Derek Anderson fishing in the Gatorade coolers or cornerback Brandon McDonald, who didn't even show up for the game at all.
Yeah, this team's got problems.