Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
BEREA, Ohio -- It's the two words no one wants to discuss with the Cleveland Browns: Staph infection.
These words have been taboo in Cleveland for several years, despite the Browns having a proven track record that it's a serious issue with their organization. There are at least six known cases of staph that have happened with the Browns in recent years. The key word is "known," because it is possible there are more cases the media failed to uncover.
Cleveland Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was the latest instance, and he brought his condition to the forefront following Cleveland's 14-11 loss to the Washington Redskins Sunday. For nearly two weeks, the team hid Winslow's condition under the title of an "undisclosed illness." According Winslow, it was the team's choice, not his.
Winslow makes a great point in saying that the players' health and careers are at risk. Winslow and receivers Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius are among the current Browns that had medical procedures to clean out staph. Jurevicius currently is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), and there is a chance he will not make it back this season because of a staph infection he suffered in the offseason.
The Browns' secrecy about Winslow's situation and other staph cases in general confirmed what many Clevelanders already knew: the organization is very squeamish when it comes to this topic because the Browns have yet to find a solution.
"We don't know where they are picking it up or where it comes from," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "If we knew that, we could pinpoint it and be able to address it."
This type of reputation could hurt the chances of landing free agents and trust with their current players. Based on Winslow's comments Sunday night, he is already at the point where he is questioning some of the team's health methods.
Teammate Darnell Dinkins, Cleveland's NFLPA rep, acknowledged Monday that there already is talk among players about staph infections and the Browns' organization.
"Of course people already know of our staph issues," Dinkins said. "The Cleveland Browns have met with us as a team and we voiced all of our concerns."
The question should be, "Is this the Browns' primary concern?"
If it wasn't before, it needs to be ASAP.