“Which play?” he asked.
The Browns circled the wagons around their quarterback, with not a hint of criticism or doubt emerging. Teammates said they understood Weeden simply made a mistake with his backward flip.
“He’s a professional in this league,’” Bryant said. “He’s one of my teammates. I believe in his ability and obviously so does the rest of the team. That’s why he’s out there playing.
“Not everybody’s going to have great plays every play. You can’t win them all. I don’t have perfect plays every play. There’s times where I don’t do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t execute like I want to. So I understand that’s going to happen to him as it happens to everybody out there. His are a little more magnified, scrutinized, whatever.
“He’s still our quarterback. He’s one of the leaders of this team. I’m always going to ride with him.”
Joe Thomas was more succinct.
His support is “unwavering,” he said.
Ditto with running back Willis McGahee.
“It’s just a fact that everybody is pointing at that interception he threw,” McGahee said. “But that’s part of the game, and we got his back. So no worries over here.”
Quentin Groves agreed, and his support matched what sounds like the very mature approach of his teammates.
“We all make those plays,” Groves said. “It just happens that the plays he makes are amplified a lot because he’s the quarterback. He’s been under so much scrutiny that any little thing that he does wrong everybody wants to jump on his back about it.”
That goes with the territory, of course. A quarterback gets the fame, the adulation and the money when things go well. When a team struggles, he gets the blame.
An NFL adage is that when a team wins the quarterback spreads the credit, but when it loses he takes the blame.
“When your mental toughness is tested your character comes out,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on a conference call. “You learn how to move forward from those things. You have to go through it. We all did. You have to learn from those things, be critical of yourself every week and realize it’s part of the territory that comes with playing quarterback.”