Lobotomy-candidate and ordained asshole Mike Florio should be proud of himself. Only someone with a true absence of any integrity whatsoever would initiate a story about a hardrunning, Jesus-loving, truck towing, football player sitting out a game after losing 10-12 lbs. and flip it into an act of defiance in the midst of brutal contract negotiations. And then, in a culmination of his own efforts to cast doubt on the temerity of that player, and potentially irreparably harm the mutual hope at securing a deal, simply withdraw from the story.

To recap, Florio speculated on the story of Browns runningback Peyton Hillis sitting out a game because of strep throat. He specifically suggested that Hillis was sitting out the game, at least in part, because he was not signed to a long-term deal by the Browns. A few days later, ESPN evil leprechaun Adam Schefter offered a report by “anonymous sources” that said that teammates in the Browns locker room believed that Hillis was sitting out the game due to his contract negotiations not going well. Florio cited that report, and made no attempt to connect his speculative analysis preceding the report.

Florio then sent another note reporting on an appendectomy that Browns Center Alex Mack had the evening after a losing effort by the Browns against the Tennessee Titans. Florio took the story as an opportunity to remind his readers that Hillis had sat out with mere strep throat. Florio followed up that “report” with one that Hillis’ agent advised him not to play based on his illness, fanning the flames of a controversy that Florio created.

Rebutting anonymous sources, former Browns headcoach Eric Mangini completely refuted the notion that Hillis would sit out for a new deal, mentioning how Hillis continued to play despite injuries late last season. Current Browns head coach Pat Shurmur echoed that sentiment; along with teammates Greg Little, and Josh Cribbs. Hard to compete with “anonymous sources,” but it’s close.

Browns President Mike Holmgren has already admitted that they were working hard to sign Hillis to a long-term deal; and Hillis has never wavered from his desire to stay in Cleveland. When players sign new agents, the agents want to negotiate a new deal for the player because otherwise the agent doesn’t get paid, makes sense, right? Also, why not strike while the iron is hot. Still, Hillis had a great season last year, but injuries, and the lack of imagination slowed down his production towards the end of the season. Therefore, to what advent is it for him to sit out a game when another runningback who the Browns also really like, could be challenging him for playing time?

This level of speculation is apparently void from the creative mind of Mike Florio; who shoots first and never asks questions.

Finally, on Oct. 8, after planting the initial question that Hillis must be engaging in a negotiating tactic; Florio backpedaled quicker then Derrelle Revis with this little bit of “analysis:”

So even though it became a big story (especially in Cleveland), it’s apparently a non-story. Indeed, if the Browns had any reason to believe that Hillis didn’t play because of his contract, would team president Mike Holmgren agree to continue to have discussions on a long-term deal, at least until Hillis regains the franchise’s trust? We don’t think so.

Why do that when you can sit in your cozy New York office and just pontificate to the masses. Nice job creating a story, perpetuating a falsehood, and then declaring it to be a “nonstory.” You suck.

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