Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports reports that eight Browns veterans held an intervention-style meeting with Hillis on Wednesday to discuss the running back’s lousy attitude in an effort to improve his focus.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one Browns player told Silver. “Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team – but now he’s like a different guy.
“It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.”
Sometimes “distractions” get overplayed in the media, but this is a clear case where Hillis’ desire for a new contract has affected Cleveland’s season.
The latest annoyance came last Sunday in San Francisco. Hillis and quarterback Thaddeus Lewis were seen holding a contest during warmups to see who could throw footballs off the crossbar better. Hillis was inactive for the game with a hamstring injury.
“It was a bad look,” another player said, “and it did not sit well with any of us.”
The meeting with Hillis was reportedly positive, but it’s remarkable the players had to hold it. Silver describes a locker room that has grown weary of Hillis’ attitude and suspicious of his behavior.
“A few guys tried to talk to him, to make him understand the best way to go about things is to put your head down and do the best you possibly can,” said All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas.
The inference is that Hillis hasn’t been doing his best to this point. Fair or not, his latest injury isn’t going to Hillis’ chances of regaining the trust of his teammates.