Former Browns tight end Kellen Winslow reveals details concerning his staph infection last season in an article that appears in the July 27 edition of ESPN The Magazine.
Winslow told ESPN's Seth Wickersham that he had to have fluid drailed from his testicles to play in an Oct. 19 game at Washington. Afterward, an angry Winslow told the media that the way the Browns treated him during his hospitalization made him feel ''like a piece of meat.'' His remarks, directed at former general manager Phil Savage, drew a one-game suspension that was later rescinded.
The sixth overall pick in the 2004 draft, Winslow was traded to Tampa Bay in late February for a second-round pick in 2009 and a fifth-rounder in 2010.
Winslow told Wickersham that he woke up one October morning sore in the groin area, but figured the problem would go away. Winslow said by the next morning ''my testicles were enlarged, to the point where it hurt to walk."
He was rushed to the Cleveland Clinic. Because the team would not release any details until there was an official diagnosis, rumors spread that Winslow had a sexually transmitted disease. According to Wickersham, Winslow's publicist texted the Browns' PR staff, "Because of speculation (sic) and rumors we are letting the media know that Kellen was treated for a 'staph infection' resulted (sic) from a cut he acquired from a car door -- stretching the truth a bit, but it will dispell (sic) the rumors and inuendos (sic)."
That led to a exchange of 17 texts, some contentious, Wickersham said, which included a protest from a public relations staffer about the reference to a staph infection. At least six Browns have contracted staph since 2003.
The diagnosis of staph was later confirmed by doctors and announced by Savage. Wickersham said Winslow passed it on to his wife Janelle. She was also hospitalized and the couple worried about it affecting their ability to have children.
Describing Winslow's treatment, Wickersham quoted Winslow as saying, ''They had to drain it. They had a scalpel. They cut into it. I had to clean it every day with a Q-Tip, for two and a half weeks. It was the most painful thing I've ever been through."
During the controversy over his suspension, Wickersham wrote that Winslow confronted his teammates in a players-only meeting about why they didn't stick up for him on the staph issue.
''I was real disappointed when no one came to my defense," Winslow told Wickersham. "They don't want to get suspended or have conduct detrimental to the team, but you've gotta be a man sometimes."
Wickersham wrote that he contacted several former Browns employees on why no one defended Winslow. Wickersham said those conversations revealed hard feelings over Winslow treating the trainers like he was their only patient, jeopardizing his damaged knee from a 2005 motorcycle accident by playing basketball in the off-season and his lewd locker room remarks. The article also said Winslow got into ''an altercation with a friend last summer, which the team kept private to protect him.'' Winslow also alienated teammates and staffers with his demand for a new contract.
Now trying to rehabilitate his image, Winslow said, "In Cleveland, I tried to treat everyone with respect and be myself."