|Last updated: 12/3/04 3:48 PM|
|Last updated: 12/3/04 3:48 PM|
Published: Fri, Dec 3, 2004
The former coach had lost touch with Cleveland's players in recent years.
BEREA (AP) Butch Davis is gone. So is the gloom that hung over the Cleveland Browns' locker room.
Music blares after practice and upbeat players speak of their coach's resignation as a welcome change for the 3-8 team. It is a stark contrast from the locker room's funeral-like atmosphere in previous weeks.
"Everybody is refreshed. We've got a new beginning," defensive end Kenard Lang said.
Interim coach Terry Robiskie began his tenure with an emotional speech during a team meeting Wednesday in which he called on the team's leaders to identify themselves.
"All I said was I want every guy in here, if you believe you're a leader, stand up," Robiskie said. "About 25 guys stood up and then I told them if you're a leader grab a guy who you think will follow you and let's go to work."
Players said Robiskie's talk stirred them and led to a spirited practice session.
"It's a lot better feeling coming in to work," safety Earl Little said. "Everybody mentally feels a whole lot better right now."
Davis, meanwhile, who declined to speak to the Cleveland media, told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that the pressure to win in recent weeks was so intense it was "suffocating."
"Every game was desperate," Davis said. "Every third down was desperate. The players felt it so much they were almost playing paralyzed."
He also told King that the team had been upset with him ever since he dumped players in a salary cap purge after its 2002 playoff season.
Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon didn't want to respond Davis' parting shots.
"He resigned and we're going to move on. His opinion is his opinion. For me, I didn't want to even listen to it," McCutcheon said.
Davis also acknowledged to King that he had team employees who would monitor locker-room gossip for him.
If Davis has anybody left reporting back to him, he won't hear much sympathy.
"Guys come and go in this business. He's leaving with a big old bank account," said Little, referring to the $12 million Davis will receive for the three years remaining on his contract. "Nobody's going to feel sorry for coach Davis or anything like that."
Davis told King that health concerns contributed to his resignation and that he's going to take a year off from coaching.
The 53-year-old Davis said that just four hours before the Browns lost 58-48 in Cincinnati last Sunday he had a panic attack. Davis declined taking medication, but was afraid he was going to have another episode on the field.
"Butch told me categorically flat out that he will not coach anywhere in 2005," King said on HBO's Inside the NFL. "He told me, 'Look, I need to get my health back. I've gained 25 pounds since I walked off the Miami campus four years ago. I don't exercise. I eat crummy. I'm a mess. I need to go and fix my personal health life.' "
Safety Robert Griffith said when he joined the Browns in Davis' second season, he didn't notice a strain between the coach and the players, but it later became evident.
"I don't think guys were able to relate to him in a way that was positive for them to get their job done for whatever reason, and most of these guys are Butch's guys, so I don't know what the disconnect was," Griffith said.
Little wouldn't go as far as saying the players had lost faith in Davis.
"I'm just happy that we have coach Robiskie. That's the best way that I can answer that," he said.