It may just be another case of the Browns being the Browns. Or it may be another case of an NFL team doing what the NFL told it to do. Regardless, something stinks about the decision to abruptly cut linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
The smoking gun is hiding in plain sight. “Prior to signing Mychal, we were informed that there was a financial situation that he had been involved with in 2014,” the Browns said in the statement announcing his termination.
So they knew what was going on or, at a minimum, they should have known. The fact that the statement then flops around with half-hearted excuses for not knowing the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the bottom line is that the Browns signed Kendricks without figuring out the truth. So either this is a diplomatic way of claiming that Kendricks lied to the Browns (if that’s what they think, they should just say it) or it’s a case of the heat getting too hot in the kitchen, and the NFL and the Browns having no viable alternative to cutting Kendricks loose.
Indeed, paragraph 11 of the Standard Player Contract authorizes termination “if Player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club.” But how does that apply to conduct from four years ago, especially when the team was on notice that something had happened before the player was signed?
Making the decision even more awkward is the fact that it came from a team owned by a man whose truck-stop chain engaged in massive customer fraud, with no NFL consequence of any kind to the owner. Moreover, the termination of Kendricks also comes only three months after the league looked the other way on the settlement of a civil fraud cause arising from allegations that Giants quarterback Eli Manning engaged in fraud in connection with the sale of NFL memorabilia.
So, yes, this one stinks. And Kendricks, who very likely will be ostracized in the aftermath of his looming guilty plea to insider trading, should consider filing a grievance aimed at getting the pay he otherwise won’t see, all because the Browns at best failed to do their homework before signing him and at worst implemented a decision that was foisted upon them by a league office that doesn’t want NFL games to be marred by the periodic mention of the presence of a player who is facing possible jail time for insider trading.