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Browns' top WR stunned by release

wire services
Published November 12, 2003

CLEVELAND - Kevin Johnson had hoped to end his career with the Browns. Instead, he'll have to start it over somewhere else.

In a surprise move, Johnson, the club's leading receiver since 1999, was released Tuesday by coach Butch Davis, who benched the receiver last week.

"It's a complete shock to me," Johnson said. "I had a great 41/2 years in Cleveland, but I never thought it would end this way. I'm still trying to figure this out."

Fans, too, might be wondering why Davis would release the team's most consistent receiver at this point in the season and after signing him to a four-year, $13.35-million contract extension with a $3.5-million signing bonus before last season.

Johnson said Davis called him into his office Tuesday to inform him that he no longer was in the team's plans.

"I'm really disappointed in the way it ended, simply because of all that I've done for him (Davis)," Johnson said. "I never questioned him and I never talked bad about him to anyone or about anything. It doesn't make sense."

Despite leading the Browns with 41 catches for 381 yards this season, Johnson had his starting job taken away by Davis, who was displeased with his production and his blocking.

Meanwhile, the NFL Players Association says the Browns violated the collective bargaining agreement by suspending running back William Green for his arrest on charges of drunken driving and marijuana possession.

"We see this issue as falling under the substance abuse policy and the clubs don't have the right to suspend the player," NFLPA president Gene Upshaw said.

Upshaw said he expects a grievance to be filed against the Browns.

"They don't have the right to do what they did," he said.

Green sat out Sunday's game at Kansas City for what Davis called detrimental conduct and being a distraction to the team.

DRUG SUSPENSION: Broncos fullback Mike Anderson was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Anderson will lose about $317,000 of his $1.35-million salary and won't be eligible to return until after Denver's Dec. 8 game against Kansas City, the league said.

The NFL did not detail the violation.

Anderson told the Denver Post he tested positive for marijuana but said he inhaled only secondhand smoke. He said he presented such evidence from a toxicologist in an appeal to the NFL.

McMAHON ARREST: Former quarterback Jim McMahon will be arraigned on a drunken driving charge next month. McMahon, who led the Bears to a 1986 Super Bowl victory, can enter a plea on Dec. 18. He faces a penalty ranging from probation to 60 days in the Santa Rosa County Jail. McMahon was released from the jail on $500 bond hours after his arrest early Sunday in Navarre.

GIANTS: Starting cornerback William Peterson went on injured reserve with a stress fracture in his lower back, knocking him out for the season. Cornerback Ike Charlton signed.

JETS: Kick returner Michael Bates will miss the rest of the season with a broken right hand after he was placed on injured reserve.

RAVENS: Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller had surgery on his left leg but hopes to return this season. Boller, injured in Sunday night's loss to the Rams, had a torn muscle in his quadriceps repaired. Baltimore signed quarterback Ray Lucas as a backup to Chris Redman and Anthony Wright.

STEELERS: Left tackle Marvel Smith might be ready for Monday night's game at San Francisco, though he still is listed as doubtful because of a slow-healing irritated nerve in his neck.

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