Savage defends decision

Published 1:18 am Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage emotionally defended his decision to suspend tight end Kellen Winslow, who claims the club tried to cover up his staph infection and has appealed his one-game ban without pay.

Savage suspended Winslow for his disparaging comments and behavior following Sunday’s loss in Washington. Winslow, who agreed to keep his medical condition private, revealed he had staph and said the Browns, who have had a high number of staph cases in recent years, still have a problem with infections.

Insisting ‘‘this is not K2 vs. Phil Savage,’’ the GM depicted Winslow as selfish and outlined the team’s reasons for suspending one of its stars.

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‘‘The Browns are bigger than one person, bigger than (owner) Randy Lerner, bigger than (coach) Romeo Crennel, bigger than me and bigger than any player on this team,’’ Savage said during his weekly appearance on WTAM radio. ‘‘We couldn’t and won’t allow one person to tear down the organization, so we had to do something.’’

Winslow appealed his suspension on Wednesday. His case will be heard by an arbitrator on Tuesday in Cleveland.