Stay safe out there, Cleveland. Don’t go near any motorized vehicles, bridges, or Popsicles. Don’t ask why you can’t have Popsicles when you’re depressed, just don’t do it. Also, avoid sunlight and microwaves.
This was to be the season of hope in Cleveland with the infusion of youth powered by Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, and Josh Gordon. And hell, it probably still is, and this alarm could be little more than the kind of panic that’s become a reflex among Browns fans, which happens when your team has had only one winning season since 1999. An addiction to hope develops, and the slightest dose of your chosen potent drug leads to a euphoric high better than anything Walter White’s lab can offer.
Or at least I can only assume that’s the drug’s affect, because as I’ve written previously, I spent a few days in Cleveland last summer, and that town sort of seems to enjoy its Browns football. That’s why it may be difficult to get an elevator to the top of the city’s two buildings right now.
Richardson, the third overall pick in last April’s draft, is visiting Dr.
Death James Andrews to have his knee injury evaluated, according to Jason La Canfora, and cornerback Joe Haden could be suspended four games if it’s determined that he violated the league’s policy on steroids and related substances.
Ahhh Browns, it’s good to have you back.
First, let’s examine Richardson’s examination, because although Haden’s absence for a quarter of the season would be painful, T-Rich’s pain is of the long-term, lasting variety, even though right now Browns fans have repeatedly been told to resume normal breathing.
Richardson had his left knee scoped in February, and consequently he didn’t participate in the Scouting Combine. The knee had presumably resumed functioning like a normal body part, because otherwise Mike Holmgren and Browns GM Tom Heckert wouldn’t have traded up one spot to secure their future work horse running back, swapping picks with Minnesota in the first round and then also shipping away picks in the fifth and seventh rounds.
Although Richardson’s other-worldly ability was acknowledged by everyone (including us), the logic behind drafting a running back with a top five pick was still questioned by everyone (including us). It’s a fragile position with a short shelf life, and often even if he’s a prolific game changer, when a running back reaches the end of his first contract a GM is already counting down the days until he turns 30, and then recedes into his shell.
Richardson’s knee first flared up Monday, and he was held out of practice and seen riding a stationary bike. Anyone who’s of any importance in the Browns’ front office is telling reporters that the injury isn’t significant, and who knows, they may be right. But here’s something that’s indisputable: a trip to see James Andrews is always a big deal. Always, and while we’re trying to stop short of reading too deeply into this, the need to involve Andrews is an indication that the injury may be more severe than the Browns first thought. Holmgren and Heckert could have some serious ‘splainin to do.
So before he’s even played a single snap in a single preseason game, the Browns’ first-round pick has logged a James Andrews visit that could result in further surgery to remove scar tissue. Oh, and we still haven’t touched on Haden yet. Moving on then.
Haden, who was a first-round pick in 2010 (seventh overall), reportedly had Adderall in his system that was found following an off-season drug test, according to ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi. A drug commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and chronic fatigue, Adderall is on the NFL’s list of banned substances.
What happens now? Welp, more testing, of course. Always more testing.
If a second test of Haden’s original sample also returns a positive result, then Haden will be suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season. Giants safety Tyler Sash was recently suspended for using the same drug, and as Grossi notes, even if a players’ reason for a positive test is legitimate, there are zero shades of gray in the league’s policy.
In a letter to players included as an appendix on the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances, the league states, “You and you alone are responsible for what goes into your body. Claiming that you used only legally available nutritional supplements will not help you in an appeal.”
Don’t worry Cleveland, the Indians are only 8.5 games back of a playoff spot.
UPDATE: Richardson visited to see Dr. Andrews includes tentatively scheduled arthroscopic surgery to clean up a loose particle of cartilage, according to ESPN’s Christ Mortensen.
Mort also reports that the procedure is considered minor, and Richardson will be ready for Week 1.