In the midst of watching the Cleveland Browns lose yet another game they could have won, I had a flash back to a better time. A time when Browns football meant winning games, playoffs and toughness.
The reason for this vision of the past was the running of Peyton Hillis. With each Raven he steam rolled, pictures of Kevin Mack, Mike Pruitt, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Earnest Byner popped in my head. Tough, physical runners who gave their best on every carry.
Marion Motley, who was the first, was before my time. I grew up watching Brown and Kelly lead the Browns to many victories. Then came the Pruitts, Mike and Greg. After that it was Mack and Byner. The Browns tradition has been built around tough, bruising running backs.
I know, it was only one game. A game in which the Browns lost, but wow, Hillis sure brought back memories. He punished the Ravens for 144 yards on 22 carries. Nobody does that to the Ravens.
After three games, Hillis has rushed for 220 yards on 39 carries. A 5.6 average. In a season where dreams are fading fast, Hillis is a bright spot.
When the Browns announced the trade of Brady Quinn to Denver for Hillis and a fifth round draft pick, most Browns fans said, who? Now they know. At 6-1 and 250 pounds, Hillis has surprising quickness as well as power.
Eric Mangini said last week that some one needs to give the offense a spark. With Josh Cribbs and now Hillis, maybe the coaches can add a spark or two of their own.