The majority of the stories surrounding the Oakland Raiders and their upcoming home game against the Cleveland Browns have had a theme of remembering and honoring Al Davis. Meanwhile, the majority of stories surrounding the Cleveland Browns in advance of this weekend's game have had a theme of questioning Peyton Hillis.
As many of you know, Hillis, who is in the middle of contract negotiations with the Browns, missed their week three game against the Miami Dolphins due to being sick. I am sure that it is not uncommon for players in the NFL to sit out of games due to being ill. In fact, under a lot of circumstances, sitting out rather than trying to play despite being sick, can actually help a team if the player who is sick is going to underperform.
However, much like the Jay Cutler is a wimp stories that dominated the media following last year's playoffs, the Peyton Hillis missed the game because he doesn't have a contract stories have been dominating Cleveland Browns stories for weeks now. On Tuesday, Hillis went on a radio tour in an effort to do some damage control.
Unfortunately for Hillis and the Browns, and perhaps fortunately for the Raiders, his Tuesday radio appearances really did not help. During one interview, Hillis was asked whether he would have played against the Dolphins if he was being paid $10 million a year. Hillis made a huge mistake by saying that he could not answer the question, thus implying that money might have influenced his decision whether or not to play.
For most sports enthusiasts, there should only be two considerations in deciding whether or not a player sits out or plays in a game. The first, would it be a serious threat to that players health if they played, and the second, would playing help or hurt the team.
As Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com pointed out, Browns starting center Alex Mack played in a game despite having appendicitis. Thus, it is clear that Mack put the team before his personal health concerns. While I would never argue that a player should risk his health like that, it begs the question, if Mack was willing to do that, what does it say about Hillis who refused to play while sick?
Regardless of whether Hillis was right or wrong about his decision not to play, all of the controversy surrounding him could easily be a distraction to the Browns and good for the Raiders.