FanHouse Roundtable: Was Kellen Winslow Justified Going Balls Out on the Browns?

How would you feel if someone gave you a dangerous infection and then covered it up by besmirching your genitalia in public? If you're anything like Kellen Winslow, you'd be none too appreciative. But those microphones in front of his face are there to promote the company line, and Winslow will have to take a game off for protecting his health and self interest. Which was justified -- Winslow's rant or his one-game suspension? The NFL FanHouse discusses.

Tom Mantzouranis: Isn't Kellen Winslow fully entitled to take this staph stuff public if he wants? It's well within an employee's rights to point out his employer's inability to provide a healthy workplace (I understand that the NFL, by nature, isn't a healthy workplace, but people sign up for the league with an understanding that they'll be getting tackled; can't say the same for contracting career-threatening infections).

I mean, if AOL were to hold a weekly "Undercooked Chicken Day," and a group of us were to get salmonella, it'd be within my legal rights to come out and say "uh, dudes, cook that chicken better!"

The point being: somebody should put more pressure on Cleveland to fix this thing, and, until then, the NFLPA should back anybody who feels like they need to call the Browns out on this.

Stephanie Stradley: I think that it is totally uncool for the Browns to let all sorts of speculation get out there about Winslow and elephant balls and cancer and STDs and all sorts of junk, when the reality is that Winslow has the same problem that a lot of Browns players have had a problem with. So the Browns would rather Winslow be embarrassed than their organization?

As for the whistleblowing aspects of things, in most states, an employee is an employee at will -- you can be fired for any reason they feel like as long as it doesn't violate the law. Whistleblower statutes protect against that but, in most states, the protections under those statutes are very limited.

Mantzouranis: For the record, I'd like to state that AOL makes fantastic chicken.

Michael David Smith: Winslow is going to appeal the suspension, and although NFL players almost never win thees appeals, I think he has a chance of winning this one. The criticisms he offered were valid. He was talking to reporters about the reasons he didn't play, and in the NFL, players are required to talk to reporters and teams are required to disclose a certain amount of injury information. If the union is doing its job, it should be able to present a compelling case that the team did not have the right to suspend him.

Also, remember that this isn't a firing, which the Browns would be well within their rights to do -- and which Winslow would welcome because he'd love to be an unrestricted free agent. This is a suspension, and the collective bargaining agreement and individual player contracts have certain rules about when and why a team can suspend a player.

Josh Alper: I think he should win his appeal. You look at the statement the Browns put out there, that Winslow's comments were somehow inappropriate and disparaging, and that's just not the case. "I just wish there had been a little more concern over this situation," is one of the quotes from Winslow and I don't see that as either of the above.

The Browns act all high and mighty, like they took the high road by not disclosing Winslow's exact medical condition but, unless I'm wrong, an employer can't just say whatever they want about an employee's physical condition whenever they want. The employee, however, can say whatever he might like. Could he have kept quiet about the fact that it was staph and that it's far from the first time the Browns have been linked to staph? Sure, but he didn't have to and the team is incredibly petty to punish the guy for it.

Shane Bacon: As much as Winslow has gotten himself in trouble for putting that proverbial foot in mouth, this wasn't a case of that. Yet he's being punished like it is. I think he should appeal this, and win, because he never once bashed Phil Savage and company, just stated that he was disappointed with what had occurred and wished different steps had been taken.

Listen, if anyone is to jump on the self-proclaimed "soldier," it is I, but this just wasn't enough to garnish a suspension. Why knock a player down a notch when the elephant in the room is the Browns' inability to shake their continued medical problems? It just seems like a true reach when there was nothing to grab.

Alper: It's hard not to read a fundamental, underlying problem between Winslow and the team. If that's the case, so be it, but that's not reason enough to suspend a guy, certainly not based on the information that's public knowledge.

Sportz Assassin Chad Johnson

In fact, I believe the Browns were wrong for sitting on this information. Yeah, your medical information is private but, as MDS pointed out, NFL teams have to disclose injuries/illnesses. He missed a game because of this and, unless Winslow specifically said to label it "undisclosed," I don't see why the hush. Especially once he found out people thought he had problems with his junk. To me, it is the same as if you had the flu (they don't mind telling people that).

I'd like to know if the Browns kept this from the other players. This isn't the first outbreak in Cleveland and something like that is very serious. As a player (and an organization), I'd hope that the doctors and trainers went around, talked to people, and checked everyone out to see if they were having any problems. It would be very irresponsible if they didn't.

Ryan Wilson: Like everybody else, I think Winslow's right. As to whether the NFLPA, NFL or, hell, the AMA should step in, eh, I'm of the opinion that the Browns' incompetence/negligence resulting in free agents signing elsewhere should be enough of a deterrent. Of course, Romeo Crennel's had a pretty good record with bringing in high-priced free agents, so maybe millions of dollars outweighs the risks of getting a staph infection. That said, it's still bad business if a guy you're paying $4 million a season is in the hospital "icing his nuts" instead of actually playing.

On a related note, Brady Quinn wonders what has to happen for Derek Anderson to come down with a raging case of the staph. Meanwhile, D.A.'s nickname continues to mock the world's sexiest backup quarterback.

JJ Cooper: I also want to know if the Browns kept this news secret from the rest of the team. Considering that they had a player (LeCharles Bentley) almost die from the staph infection he caught in the festering disease bin that are the Browns' training facilities, it sure seems like it's only fair that the team lets its employees know when it happens again (and we're at least at case No. 6 here).

But the reality is that the team is doing everything in its power to keep this news from getting out, and it sure seems like this suspension is a warning to any other Browns player (or is it more accurate to say the next Browns player) who contracts staph. They're insinuating that if you mention it, we're going to cut you if you are roster filler and suspend you if you're a star.

Alper: What does that mean for Quinn?

Matt Snyder: I agree with the masses in that this is a joke that he's being suspended. He wasn't even being inflammatory. Just stating the facts. If the team didn't want him stating facts, they should have put down a gag order -- which I'm sure would have went over real well with Kellen.

Is he being punished for being a brash guy in the past? And a conspiracy theory ... did the Browns leak the elephantitis story to cover their own tracks?

Cooper: As Ryan said, if you are a free agent and you have other options, why would you opt to go to a biohazard zone and sign with the Browns?

Will Brinson: I just want to know what kind of real soldier doesn't fall in line. Actually, I back Winslow's stance here but I find that humorously ironic.

Stradley: The entire situation is stupid even by Browns standards. Normal Bad: That the Browns had yet another case of staph. Not-So-Normal Bad: That they were foolish enough to think that they could have another case of staph, to a "name" player no less, and believe they could keep it quiet. Stupid Bad: Having the whole situation end up in a suspension of the player that got staph.

Really, it is an object lesson of stupid.

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