Joe Thomas’ Peyton Hillis comments just felt like the truth


I was glancing through the headlines yesterday and today of all the places covering Joe Thomas’ comments on Peyton Hillis and something just didn’t sit right with me. ESPN said Joe Thomas “blasts” Peyton Hillis. Dawgs By Nature said that Thomas “Rips Into” Peyton Hillis. ESPN Cleveland said Thomas “tees off” on Peyton Hillis. This is not to criticize any of these outlets either as many of them (especially Dawgs by Nature) are great sources who do valuable work. Even when Scott headlined the news yesterday he used the word “venom” to describe Thomas’ comments. These comments could easily be viewed as venomous or cutting or blasting or ripping or any other adjective you might be able to think of, but they still didn’t feel like that to me. Something about Joe Thomas’ comments seemed too truthful and pure to be as salacious as any of those other words would describe.

It’s the source of the comments as much as anything. Joe Thomas doesn’t hop up and down angry ranting and raving about anything. In fact, he rarely speaks at all in front of the microphones. Thomas is quietly known for his leadership on the offensive line including under-reported stories of him hosting the unit at his house for cookouts and unofficial team-building. He’s also been known to do this very early on in the off-season to include undrafted free agents who are unlikely ever to make the team. The one thing that it seems everyone has gotten right in this story is that when Joe Thomas speaks it means something because he doesn’t flood the universe with quotes on a weekly basis.

Still, the Thomas comments on Hillis didn’t “toss him under the bus” and blame him for the season. Thomas didn’t take it to a conclusion and say that Hillis cost his teammates wins. He instead just focused on the fact that Hillis wouldn’t listen and ended up disrespecting his teammates with his actions. He was also sure to leave in the good parts about Hillis being “hard-working, blue collar,” and “tough.”

Maybe I’m just splitting hairs here on a technicality, but I’m assuming that I’m not the only one who didn’t feel like Joe Thomas was really setting out to rip Peyton Hillis. I mean I guess he could have just not said anything at all, and most of our mothers told us that was the proper thing to do if we didn’t have anything nice to say. Still, is it “ripping” a guy if you’re sticking almost 100% to the facts and just telling the truth of what happened?

Joe Thomas didn’t tell us that Hillis was a bad person. He didn’t even make fun of him in any way, really. Thomas recounted the actions of Hillis and the actions of Hillis’ teammates to try to do what they thought they could to help him to become a part of the team again.

Maybe none of it really matters, and maybe I’m just finding a way to say that I like and respect Joe Thomas as a Cleveland Brown. In the end, that’s the real lesson in all this. There are some really good reasons that Joe Thomas is talking to the Cleveland media and Peyton Hillis is no longer a Brown while denying interview requests as a member of the visiting Chiefs. It doesn’t take an underhanded rip-job to prove that and it’s nice to finally know the truth.

(And if you needed any more proof, Joe Thomas was named the Cleveland Browns 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year as I was writing this.)

  • mgbode

    when the truth involves validating to the media the long-held assumption that the team resented Hillis and felt he was not trying hard enough to get back on the field from injury/illness as a result of his contract negotiations; yes, it is ripping him.

    he was as respectful about it as he could be, but the underlying message was clear.

  • Harv 21

    Guessing that Thomas chose to publicly speak out because 1) He really hates how Hillis selfishly distracted and weakened the team, and/or 2) He’s signaling current (cough/cribbs) and potential future distractors that he will use his well-earned legitimacy to embarrass them if they pull these stunts. I’m all for it. This is the kind of player leadership we’ve been waiting for, rather than the throw-to-me-jab-finger-in-QB-chest, or the watch me dramatically clear out my locker.

    A year ago many commenters assumed there had to be plenty of blame to be spread around for Peyton’s weirdness, Shurmur must have screwed this up, they only needed to make him happy by splitting the difference in contract negotiation. That’s not always the answer. Sometimes a player turns into an idiot and needs to be purged, even if he likes to say “Aw shucks workin’ hard stayin’ humble” whenever Mary Kay approaches with the mic and notebook.

  • deesh

    wait, you mean the media blew something else out of proportion? you don’t say!

  • jimkanicki

    100% agree craig and you’re not splitting hairs on a technicality. all of the headlines you cite (as well as cleve-dot-com/MKC ‘thomas unloads..’) exaggerate what reads like matter-of-fact recounting of thomas’ time with hillis.

    to report the comments with such explosive language is to not report at all. it is to embellish/sensationalize a story for (apparently) cynical ends.

    (credit to you for calling out your own site btw.)

  • MrCleaveland

    Good piece, Craig. Two points:

    1. This should be another lesson to us that we really don’t know what goes on in the locker room, and therefore some of the opinions we form are based on incomplete or erroneous information. I was all in favor of re-signing Hillis during the off-season, but now that the picture is a little clearer, I guess that wouldn’t have been such a good idea.

    2. When new outlets get a juicy quote from a player, they often make it sound like the player called a news conference for the specific purpose of issuing the quote. But in reality, the player was just sitting at his locker minding his own business when a reporter asked him a question. So he answered it. That’s all. No agenda. No crusade. He just answered a question.

  • maxfnmloans

    he was NOT “unloading” or “ripping” or any of the fancy adverbs folks were using to describe Thomas’ comments in order to generate clicks.

    It just seems to me anymore that people can’t handle bad news. They are always looking for the “why” or the “so what” behind people’s comments. The media had an agenda, thus they figure everyone else has an agenda. Often times, people do have an agenda, but it has gotten to the point where people assume the worst when they hear something negative. Maybe it’s because we are all conditioned that way. Maybe it’s because lots of times there is a conclusion the speaker is trying to lead us to.

    But maybe sometimes it’s just a statement of fact, and maybe sometimes other people confuse “fact” for an attack, simply because the speaker is not obfuscating the facts with flowery prose in order to show more diplomacy. Sometimes the truth is that the truth is ugly.

  • Toddyus

    These are pretty sensational headlines, but no media sensationalist adjectival phrase is more irritating (at least, to me) than, “So-and-so speaks out.” What a stupid, meaningless expression. “Tonight on Channel x News at Eleven, Josh Cribbs speaks out about his lack of playing time.” What’s wrong with just “speaks?” Why does it have to be “out?” Is it there to distinguish from the times when someone speaks “in?”

    Like everyone who says anything is a on a crusade.

    Ok, I feel much better now…

  • MrCleaveland

    I agree completely. Thank you for speaking out.

  • Harv 21

    your #2 is generally correct, but not so applicable here I think. Thomas gave plenty of non-answer/answers during last year’s Hillis drama. Over the years he’s been asked about Brady v. Derek, Braylon being traded, how Mack/Schwartz/Richardson/Delhomme/McCoy/Weeden look in their first camps, about every stupid team issue, and he’s been careful to say nothing to create a story. About Hillis he clearly wanted to talk specific negatives. If he wanted to wish Hillis well and say how much he respected his talent he would have done so.

  • MrCleaveland

    Have to disagree, Harv. All the other examples you gave pertained to guys who were still on the team (or in Braylon’s case, the guy who traded him was still with the team). With Hillis gone, I’m speculating that Thomas didn’t see any point in keeping this “in house.”

  • James Workman

    Why are we discussing verbiage? It’s called sensationalism, and the media uses it to “sell papers” so to speak. Plain and simple. No one who is not a Browns fan hits the link if the headline doesn’t include “venom” or “rips” or any other exaggeration of the truth. Can we get back to talking about something that matters please, instead of breaking down the tactics used by the likes of “Faux News”. Oh wait here comes another breaking story from ESPN…….

  • Harv 21

    Why would you disagree when I’m right?

  • mgbode

    Sorry Mr.C, but I’m on team-Harv for this one. He easily could have side-stepped the question if he wanted to (whatever happened is in the past and we are happy that he found a home in KC, etc.).

  • MrCleaveland

    Some say I’m a rebel. Never fit in. Couldn’t be tamed. Walked my own road. Made my own toast.

  • Harv 21

    Thaaank you. You may pick up your complimentary Segway at the service desk.

    You know, yesterday I was the beneficiary of two incredible random acts of kindness. And today at WFNY the hate lava licks at my stumbling feet.

    “A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words.” [Dr. Winston O. Boogie]

  • mgbode

    someone needs an assistant metaphor coach

  • Garry_Owen

    Whoo boy! We’ve got a regular nerd street fight brewing! Sides are being drawn. It’s like the Sharks and the Jets, but with fewer switchblades and far, far more dancing.

    For the record, count me in the Mr. C corner. Thomas respects the teammate code, but doesn’t give a fugedabout guys that aren’t on the team anymore and who tried to screw the team when they were on it.

    Got my tap shoes on. Let’s rumble, boys!

  • MrCleaveland

    Imagine that.

  • Garry_Owen

    The only bus Hillis found himself under was the one he was pulling through his Arkansas hometown. It just caught up with him, is all.

  • mgbode

    glad to see you are on a crusade against speaking-out

  • Harv 21

    I love to toast myself (also try our alternative comma version)

  • mgbode

    just here to even the odds I see. that is fine. just understand, I don’t dance.

    (well, unless my 1yo really wants me to).

  • Harv 21

    So Mr.C, the lava has turned.

  • MrCleaveland

    Okay, Harv, how did THAT kick and turn and kick taste?

  • mgbode

    no jazz hands and a slightly bent right knee had the judges deducting points.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I thought maybe it was the one that was on blocks in his front yard in his Arkansas hometown. If a gopher gets under those cement blocks… look out!

  • Garry_Owen

    Sure, blame the kid that can’t talk and just learned to walk.

    We all know that you spend your Thursday nights at the Arthur Miller studio.

    It’s okay, bode. Sometimes that music gets in you like a fever and you can’t help but break into a soft-shoe. There’s nothing wrong with that!

  • Harv 21

    Hey mgbode, I got Garry no prob if you want Mr. C. He’s like Mr. Late-Afternoon Hyperbole. He’ll be panting from that faux breakdance thing he does in like 2 secs and then I’ll clean up Mr. C if still necessary. Not that you need the help.

  • mgbode

    do you really think a child of mine cannot talk at 1yo? do you see how many comments I push around here? she’s talked since 10mo, walked since 8mo and is jumping, running, and in the advanced gymnastics class now. that’s right, I said advanced!

    (oh, and she’s 23mo now, so still clinging onto my daughter not getting older, but it is what it is there i suppose)

  • Harv 21

    “fugedabout guys”
    Nice, that’s maybe a new joisey dyslexic thing? (Almost done here)

  • Porck “Pony Boy” Chop

    Nerd Street fight? Count me in now where is Harv “Soda Pop” 21 when I need him?

  • MrCleaveland

    Hey, mg, when you’re finished describing for us how gifted your child is, could you give us a play-by-play recap of your incredible fantasy football victory last weekend, and then follow that up with a detailed recounting of the time you got that birdie on 18.

  • porckchopexress

    So since everyone is keen to looking out for the media sentionalising things maybe we can apply that lesson to circumstances currently attempting to snowball into a tidal wave of avalanching sand?
    Like say if the current team President says repeatedly that he isn’t going to comment on jobs like GM until after the season, and then a reporter asks that President if an NFL Network analyst might be the next GM, and the President reiterates “he hasn’t made any decisions”, and the reporters insist that this means he has made a decision and that the current GM is as good as gone. Maybe we don’t act like idiots and believe everything the reporters say, and try to allow the situation to play out on its own? Maybe?

  • MrCleaveland

    You are, of course, referring to Lava Man.

  • mgbode

    please, I don’t get birdies; I Kim Jong-Il those shots off the tee.

  • Metaphor Coach

    Never let the grass of self doubt grow twixt his self-assured toes.

  • MrCleaveland

    All this banter would be a lot funnier if the replies lined up with the comment being replied to.

    But then again, maybe not.

  • MrCleaveland

    You may be confusing that bus on blocks with the Clinton Presidential Library.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    No dice! Lisa, get me my address book, a six pack of beer, and my conversation hat… I’m gonna let those Browns morons have it!

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s a feint. I want you think that I’m gassed from my breakdance of hyperbole, but then I bring the parables and aphorisms, chimney sweep-style. Chim-chim-cheree!

  • Harv 21

    went away for less than an hour and don’t know who I’m kicking anymore or whose child is on the slower developmental track.

    Turn off the black light! Damn you, psychadelic Disqus.

  • Harv 21

    Maybe I’m here but, uh, don’t exactly recognize that Disqus name. Turn slowly, friend, and walk me through a sidecar cocktail.

  • Roosevelt

    I agree that what Thomas said was in no way ripping, blasting, or teeing off on Hillis. He said what he said without hyperbole and he took care to mention that Hillis was in fact the kind of guy he was reputed to be and what happened the second year there was uncharacteristic. Saying something negative is not necessarily a terrible thing nor a sensational thing in this context. The headlines, on the other hand, were deliberately misleading so as to generate clicks.

  • Garry_Owen

    I know I’m stupid late in responding to this, but it finally hit my stupid brain where you were going with this.
    Yes, that was the point – but no dyslexia here. It was purely intentional, but now I see how it looks. I suppose there’s a better way to spell it (fuggedabout? fuhgeddabout?), but as it is, it’s even more tangentially clever than I had originally intended.
    My dance moves have dance moves.

  • Porckchopexpress

    Ive got vacation photos from our trip to Dollywood if anyone wants to see them

  • Porckchopexpress

    That made me smile. Alot

  • CBI

    I thought Braylon taught us all to keep our shoes on.

  • Henry Brown

    And if you need even more proof, Hillis’ reaction to Thomas is to make absurd, and somewhat misogynistic comparisons about him, and complain about how much money he makes.

  • mgbode

    and the humorous thing in that is that if Hillis would have just taken the initially offered deal, he’d be sitting on a 3yr/$16mil contract rather than the 1yr $3mil deal he has today.