The irony was obvious. As running back Peyton Hillis tries to move past accusations that his effort to get paid by the Browns prompted him to err on the side of not playing with strep throat, Hillis chose to get paid by a product that he was promoting during a Tuesday radio tour, which exposed him to more questions about whether his decision not to play in Week Three against the Dolphins was motivated in part by the fact that the Browns have yet to sign him to a long-term deal.
Maybe he should have told his sponsor that he has strep throat.
That said, Hillis handled himself well during an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show. “I really was sick,” Hillis said. “I have no reason to lie about that.”
Fine, but the question isn’t whether the guy “really was sick.” The question is whether, as a football player, Hillis should have played football despite the fact that he “really was sick.” Browns center Alex Mack, for example, somehow evaded team doctors while suffering appendicitis in order to play football the following Sunday.
In a separate appearance on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Hillis. After the Madden 12 cover athlete recited his “I was sick” mantra, host Evan Cohen asked, “So if you were making $10 million this year you would still not play in that game against Miami?”
Said Hillis: “If, uh, that whole situation went down like that, that’s a lot of hearsay but I really couldn’t answer that question.”
Look, we were ready to give Hillis the benefit of the doubt and move on. We reported over the weekend that contract talks were scheduled for the Monday after the game that Hillis skipped, making it far less likely that he would have opted not to play in order to make a statement. But in an effort to cash another check, Hillis agreed to open himself up to more questions about the situation — and to assume the risk that he’d say something that would revive the debate.
That’s precisely what happened.