CLEVELAND—The Cleveland Browns unveiled their own defensive scheme to shut down Kellen Winslow.
The team suspended their talented, emotional tight end for one game without pay for critical comments Winslow made following Sunday's loss at Washington.
Winslow, who spent three days at the Cleveland Clinic earlier this month with an undisclosed illness, revealed he had a staph infection—for the second time—before lashing out at Browns general manager Phil Savage as the Pro Bowler's teammates dressed after their 14-11 loss to the Redskins.
Winslow complained that the team, which has had at least six cases of staph in the past three years, asked him to conceal his illness. He also vented at Savage for not checking on him while he was in the hospital, said he felt the Browns were treating him like a "piece of meat," and said he considered requesting a trade.
Savage shot back with a 352-word statement on Tuesday, suspending Winslow and calling his comments and behavior "unwarranted, inappropriate, and unnecessarily disparaging to our organization."
"His statements brought unjustified negative attention to our organization, and violated the team-first concept of our football squad," said Savage, who had not suspended a player since taking over the Browns in 2005.
Winslow will miss Sunday's game at Jacksonville and it will cost him $235,294—his one-game paycheck. He will not be allowed to practice or attend meetings at the team's facility this week and cannot return until Monday.
Winslow can appeal his suspension through the NFL Players' Association. His agent Drew Rosenhaus did not immediately return phone messages or an e-mail seeking comment.
In a statement released through his publicist, Winslow said he tried to reveal his condition but was discouraged by the team.
"Regardless of how this was released the information would still remain the same," he said. "I contracted staph, again. I spoke out on this because I felt it was the right thing to do and that is why I was so passionate about it. This has nothing to do with football and this has nothing to with my current contract situation. This is a health concern.
"I care deeply for my organization, my teammates, and the Browns fans. At no time was I ever trying to cause distress for the team or be a distraction but the fact remains there is a health issue that needs to be addressed further."
Winslow's suspension culminates a two-week mystery that began with him being admitted to the hospital on Oct. 9 with an undisclosed illness.
The Browns, citing privacy laws and Winslow's wishes, declined to identify his medical condition. Winslow returned to practice last week and on Friday he said he agreed with the team's decision and argued that "just because I catch a football doesn't mean I should tell what's wrong with me or what happened."
However, after catching just two passes for 19 yards in Sunday's game, Winslow went public with his illness.
On Monday, coach Romeo Crennel said he was disappointed by Winslow's decision to take his problems to the media and said he would consult with Savage before levying any punishment.