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John Moffitt says Browns failed him on physical after he refused to take less money, team denies it

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 14, 2013

John Moffitt

The Browns have denied former NFL guard John Moffitt's claim that they declared he failed their physical and voided a trade for him in August because he refused to take less money.

Moffitt made the accusation Tuesday during a radio interview with 710 ESPN Seattle. He called the Browns “terrible” and said, “the way that they did me in that front office was so dirty.”

The Browns responded this morning with the following statement: “The only reason John Moffitt is not a Brown is because of our concerns about his health. Any claims to the contrary are not true.”

The Browns shipped defensive end Brian Sanford to the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 19 in exchange for Moffitt. A day later, Moffitt spoke to reporters at the Browns’ headquarters and was on the field for the beginning of practice before coach Rob Chudzinski escorted him back into the facility. The Browns announced that evening that they voided the trade because of concerns about Moffitt’s health.

The rights to Moffitt, 27, went back to the Seahawks, and they immediately traded him to the Denver Broncos in exchange for defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. Last week, Moffitt announced his retirement, citing a loss of passion for football. His base salary this season was $625,000, and he was scheduled to make $752,500 next year.

A third-round draft pick in 2011, Moffitt started the first nine games of his rookie season before suffering torn ligaments in his left knee that required surgery. He also had elbow surgery last year during training camp.

But Moffitt insisted he didn’t legitimately fail the physical the Browns administered.

“I haven't said this publicly – they suck. Cleveland sucks,” Moffitt told 710 ESPN Seattle. “They are so terrible and the way that they did me in that front office was so dirty. They failed me on a B.S. physical. They took me in, they MRI-ed me, they ran me through their gamut, they flew me out there that night, and I saw the MRIs with the doctor. I went through all the slides with the doctor ‘cause I knew, I’m like, ‘I want to see this, right?’ So [the doctor] goes to me, he’s like, ‘You’ve got a little bit of arthritis, but for the knee injury, you’re fine.’

“So then they call my agent [Michael George], and [he’s] like, ‘[The Browns] want you to take less money. They want you to do a split or something like that.’ I’m like, ‘No. No, I’m on a basic contract. I’m not doing a split.’ And then my agent finally did some work and figured out that per the CBA you can't do that on a trade. So now they just call me up to [their] office and they said, ‘We're going to fail you on your physical.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, OK.’ I went in with the GM [Mike Lombardi], though, and talked to him, and they tried tell me, they tried to get the head trainer [Joe Sheehan] to tell me that my knee wasn't right and they said that the slides were in there, basically trying to lie to me. I was like, ‘That’s great. Thanks. You guys really set me up here ‘cause you failed me on a physical [and] the whole league’s going to know.’”

After the Browns voided the trade, Moffitt passed the Broncos’ physical to make that deal official. He played in two games with the Broncos.

When asked Aug. 21 how Moffitt could pass the Broncos’ physical but not the one he took for the Browns, Chudzinski said, “Every organization is different. Out of respect for any player in the situation, I am not going to get into any details about that.”

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