Along the way Hillis, now a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, tugged at and pulled down the team. From not playing in a week three game against the Miami Dolphins because of strep throat, to difficult contract negotiations, to a lingering hamstring injury, Hillis was a divisive force behind the scenes.
There were plenty of reasons why the Browns were a dismal 4-12 in coach Pat Shurmur’s first year on the job, but it’s hard to argue that distractions surrounding Hillis didn’t top the list.
“I don’t know if anybody picked sides because I don’t know if anybody would have been on Peyton’s side,” five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said. “The way he handled it wasn’t the best. I think he knows it now. It affected everyone.