BEREA — Coach Romeo Crennel was disappointed Kellen Winslow took his frustration with general manager Phil Savage to the media and was considering discipline for creating a distraction.
But Crennel, who verified that Winslow had a staph infection, also supported Winslow and his future with the team.
“I’m just saying that if he has an issue, he should address it with the organization and not to the media,” Crennel said Monday when asked what bothered him most about Winslow’s rant following Sunday’s 14-11 loss to the Redskins. “He should talk to the organization first and try to reach some kind of agreement.
“I think Kellen likes the players on this team. I think Kellen likes the Cleveland Browns and I think he’ll play for the Cleveland Browns.”
Winslow was leaving the locker room when reporters entered Monday just after noon. He offered a quick, “What’s up, guys?” on his way to the weight room.
He said plenty Sunday night, ripping Savage for not calling him while he spent three nights at the Cleveland Clinic and criticizing the team for telling the media it was Winslow’s decision to keep the details of the illness private. Winslow said he felt like a “piece of meat” and confronted Savage outside the locker room after the game.
Crennel said he would discuss any disciplinary action with “everybody” in the organization and the final decision wouldn’t be his alone.
“We’ll investigate it and then we’ll determine if anything needs to be done, and my policy is to keep family business in the family,” Crennel said.
The team’s desire to keep Winslow’s staph infection a secret — this is Winslow’s second case of staph and the team’s sixth confirmed incident since 2005 — contributed to Winslow’s anger. Speculation was allowed to grow and rumors embarrassing to Winslow circulated.
Winslow followed the team’s script Friday when he talked to reporters before returning to practice for the first time in two weeks. But following a frustrating loss in which he didn’t start, played sparingly for three quarters and finished with two catches for 17 yards, Winslow decided to vent.
“He knew how I felt and I felt that it was a private medical issue and I wasn’t discussing it,” Crennel said. “I can’t control what he discusses.”
Staph infections have plagued the Browns during the Savage/Crennel administration despite efforts to sanitize team headquarters. Since Winslow developed an infection following a motorcycle accident in 2005, Braylon Edwards, former safety Brian Russell, former center LeCharles Bentley and receiver Joe Jurevicius, who’s on the physically unable to perform list after multiple surgeries to remove staph from his knee, have had problems.
“All the situations have been different,” Crennel said. “Some of them have been pre-op, some have been post-op, some of them have been after the guy’s left the hospital and gone home.”
Winslow, who’s seeking a contract extension and considered asking for a trade last week, thinks the team can do more to keep the players healthy.
“Nobody knew that I had staph on the team because the Browns didn’t want it to get out,” Winslow told ESPN.com Sunday night. “But it’s my teammates’ right to know what’s going on at the facility to protect them. Their safety is at risk, too, and I didn’t agree with the Cleveland Browns, because they are protecting the organization and not the players.”
Savage didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment, but Crennel strongly defended the organization’s diligence to fight staph. He cited the use of a “sports-coating” company to check the building, extensive cleaning of all the areas the players use and the distribution of educational material.
“No player has come to me and said he felt like there was a problem or felt like we needed to do more,” Crennel said. “I think the team is doing everything we can to try to keep our players safe.
“Even with that, there’s no guarantees.”
Nobody in the locker room Monday blamed the team for the staph problems, but a few acknowledged there’s a concern.
“With anybody who has staph, you’re talking about your life,” said tight end Darnell Dinkins, the team’s representative to the union. “It’s bigger than football. It’s bigger than a game.”
“They’ve educated us a lot, so we’re trying to take all the precautions,” running back Jason Wright said. “You really can’t worry about it. You can think about it, but you can’t worry about it.”
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