Browns done with Jadeveon Clowney after critical comments
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Jadeveon Clowney’s latest move with the Cleveland Browns happened off the field — a public fling born of frustration and disappointment.
The team objected accordingly.
Clowney was sent home from practice Friday, a day after he slammed the organization and coaching staff in an explosive interview that effectively ended his second season in Cleveland just before the finale in Pittsburgh.
Coach Kevin Stefanski declined to directly address Clowney’s status — or provide any specifics about his decision to punish the defensive end — as the Browns (7-9), who always seem to be involved in drama, prepared to face the Steelers (8-8) on Sunday.
However, Stefanski indicated that Clowney will not be on the trip.
“Nothing is above the team,” he said.
Angry that he wasn’t getting more exposure in Cleveland’s defense, Clowney said in an interview Thursday with cleveland.com that he didn’t feel appreciated and was “95% sure” he wouldn’t be back for a third season.
Clowney further claimed that the Browns have given four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Myles Garrett preferential treatment and were only focused on getting him into the Hall of Fame. He added that he should be near “someone who believes in me and my abilities”.
Clowney made it clear he has no personal issues with Garrett, who has 15 sacks heading into the Week 18 game against Pittsburgh.
Garrett said he understood Clowney wanted to be more productive, but was disappointed in how his teammate ultimately expressed it.
“This is our team,” Garrett said. “He’s my brother. He’s my teammate and I wish we could have talked about it man to man and us as coaches as well. We could have all sat down and just had a conversation and that would probably be the way I would have handled it.
“But hindsight is 20/20. He’s feeling a lot of emotion in what has been an up-and-down season, and there’s no perfect way to handle things. But I wish he would have done it a little differently.”
Garrett said his relationship with Clowney remains “cordial” and he didn’t take the comments to heart.
Asked if he would welcome Clowney back at any point, Garrett said, “We want volunteers, not hostages.”
“If you feel like no one believes in you here,” Garrett said, “then go where you feel you’re wanted, loved and appreciated.”
Clowney tied his career high with nine sacks last season. Earlier this season, he expressed his frustration that the Browns were changing his game assignment to give Garrett more favorable matchups.
Defensive line coach Chris Kiffin revealed that Clowney refused to play any position other than third down in the Oct. 23 game at Baltimore. He was benched for the first series the following week against Cincinnati for his behavior.
Kiffin said the decision to move Garrett is a natural one.
“We’re going to put our best player in the best position to win,” he said.
Kiffin also disagreed with Clowney’s assertion that Garrett was treated differently.
“It was a disappointing season for all of us — everybody in this organization, on defense and for him,” Kiffin said. “Obviously, he didn’t have the production he had last year so he’s frustrated. I don’t agree with the way he did it, but we’re here today dealing with it.”
Clowney came to the Browns’ facility and participated in a position meeting with his fellow defensive lineman before being told to leave.
The turmoil surrounding Clowney is similar to last season’s messy situation with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was suspended by the Browns and eventually traded after weeks of drama.
Stefanski doesn’t think there’s a disconnect between the players and his staff.
“Every team, all 32, we all deal with things throughout the season,” he said. “Sometimes they stay at home and you deal with them, and sometimes you don’t. This is very similar to family. This is what we do. We operate as a family. Sometimes you make tough decisions, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Clowney was the No. 1 pick. 1 overall in 2014 from Houston. He spent five seasons with the Texans before playing a year with Seattle and Tennessee.
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