During a nearly forty-five minute press conference this afternoon, Browns President Carmen Policy offered the team's perspective on the need to release leading receiver Kevin Johnson.
"Bottom line is", Policy stated, "in the opinion of the coaching staff and the organization, providing Kevin with a new environment would be healthy for this environment. This was not the matter of a business decision being made. This was a decision that was made relative to 'team'. "
"Kevin was demoted", Policy continued, "Now we could debate the wisdom or the common sense of that move, and it would not be relevant for today's session. Whether or not you agree with that, the decision was made, that for a variety of reasons he should not be the starting receiver for the Cleveland Browns for the balance of this season."
"Once that decision was made, it was expected that Kevin would support that young corps of receivers as the second or third or fourth receiver the same way that those young receivers supported him when he was in the number one position. He was unable to do that, and it became apparent that he was going to be unable to handle the new, albeit lower, position and role that he was expected to play."
"That having been recognized as a reality, caused the coaching staff to feel that ultimately - and by ultimately I mean not only for the future but for this season - the team is better off with Kevin not a part of the process".
Over the next half-hour, Policy painted a picture of Kevin Johnson as being a selfish player, unable to accept his benching or coaching, and suggested that Johnson's demeanor was impacting the rest of the receiving corps. At one point, Policy derided Johnson as not being a team player, by offering that there was a differing "vision of how important the team's success was, compared to his individual success".
Commenting that he "really had to commend the coach", Policy said that Johnson's release was a group decision which involved himself and Randy Lerner, and involved significant input from "the position coach". Although he was never mentioned by name, Policy was clearly referring to well-respected WR Coach Terry Robiskie.
Other items of note:
- Policy fully expects that Johnson will be claimed by a number of teams on the waiver wire, suggesting that as many as fifteen teams might claim Johnson. The ex-Browns receiver has an appealing "small dollars" contract, according to the team's President.
- The team distanced itself from a report which appeared in The Plain Dealer which bashed Kevin Johnson and Tim Couch using unnamed sources. Lane Adkins discussed the merits of the report in a recent What We've Been Told article. Policy stated that he was particularly offended by the article's discussion about Tim Couch.
- The Browns Team President danced around questions regarding the futures of Tim Couch and Dennis Northcutt. Couch, Policy stated, will be dealt with at the end of the year. Policy avoided directly responding to a question about Northcutt's future, but when asked again suggested that Northcutt might benefit from added playing time.
- Policy also intimated that Johnson may have "regressed" following the signing of a longer-term contract early in 2002. "Maybe '02 became the 'money year'", Policy said.
- The situation around William Green was also discussed, as well as the Player's Union protest of Green's one-game suspension. There was no significant news on this topic to report, although Policy inferred that the worst punishment the team might suffer is having to pay Green the money withheld from his paycheck for missing the game.