When Charlie Frye was pulled in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh, there was an overwhelming feeling of sadness surrounding the third-year quarterback. Veteran linebacker Willie McGinest approached Frye on the sideline, presumably to offer support. But for much of the game, Frye stood alone, apart from heir apparent Brady Quinn, diligently charting plays until the final whistle. Frye's teammates know how hard he worked in the off-season; Kellen Winslow said last week Frye was studying at 2 a.m.
I can't help but think back to the Senior Bowl, when ESPN decided to chronicle Frye's every move for 'Outside the Lines' and was rewarded when Frye was named the game's MVP. That week, Frye's receivers said he was the best quarterback they'd ever played with. Frye was confident yet humble. That March, the Green Bay Packers showed some interest in Frye as the replacement for Brett Favre. The kid who had a Bernie Kosar poster in his bedroom was on top of the world when he was drafted by the Browns.
Now he's been through the NFL grinder and one wonders if he'll ever be the same. He was a third-round pick who never blew anyone away with his arm strength. Perhaps he's gone as far as his physical skills can take him. But he never complained during this summer's controversy and showed leadership. Contrary to what coach Romeo Crennel said Monday, Frye's confidence has to be shot. The question is: Can it be reclaimed? Certainly not by the Browns.