Kennard McGuire, the agent for Browns RB Peyton Hillis, told The Associated Press in a story published Wednesday that he advised Hillis not to play in Week Three vs. Miami because of strep throat.
The focus on Hillis' absence intensified on Sunday, when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that some of Hillis' teammates suspected it was related to his contract. Hillis' contract is up after this season, and negotiations between both sides have yet to result in a new deal.
According to The Associated Press, McGuire indicated Hillis' absence wasn't related to his contract, but tied to whether Hillis was well enough to play. McGuire said that the Browns and Hillis "are not aligned" on Hillis' market value, according to The Associated Press, but that both sides want to strike a deal.
Hills, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, said Sunday that his contract had no bearing on him not playing in Week Three.
"That's shouldn't even be an issue," Hillis said, according to the paper. "That's not an issue in my brain. I'll go out there and I'll play. But if I know I'm not 100 percent and I can hurt my team, I'm not going to risk myself."
The way we see it
This controversy has had staying power, to say the least. If it's not a distraction for Cleveland, it's at least a persistent annoyance. Some elements have been out of the Browns' and Hillis' control, of course, but 10 days have passed since Hillis didn't play in Week Three to Wednesday's latest chapter in the story.
It bears noting that no one has gone on the record to claim Hillis didn't play because of the contract dispute, and the player, his agent and his head coach have all publicly said his illness was the factor in his decision to sit out. Also, several teammates have publicly spoken out in Hillis' defense.