Throughout the 2011 season and now in the buildup to the free agency frenzy and the 2012 NFL draft, the name Peyton Hillis has been accompanied by drama. It is time the Cleveland Browns dispel the theory mongering and let Hillis go.
There was a time not so long ago when Peyton Hillis emerged from relative obscurity to endear Cleveland fans during his 2010 breakout season. His was a running style that produced gritty, head-down, feet-charging-forward runs to the tune of nearly 1,200 yards, 11 touchdowns and a substantial 4.4 yards per carry.
The most key stat of that breakout 2010 season, though, was Hillis’ games played, which was perfect at sixteen for the season.
Then last year happened. You can call it a video game jinx, a hob-goblin curse or relate it to whatever other fanciful rationale you like, but Peyton Hillis revealed the very strong possibility that he may simply be an average back that had a great year due to an element of anonymity.
Of course, there is validity to the idea that a player cannot be productive and help his team if he is not on the field, and Hillis only played 10 games last year.
However, that does not negate the question of a player’s desire to play through such injuries. Nor does it excuse him from, despite his time as a sideline spectator, failing to be a supportive and positive force, which would enable him to supplant his lack of on-field time.
These recurring questions—the severity of certain injuries Hillis sustained, teammates' mounting doubts of his devotion to the concept of team, the dramafest that has accompanied his name—are all factors in the rationale to move forward without him.
The next few slides will color this rationale in further detail.