By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: The Browns want starting wide receivers Greg Little and Josh Gordon to be fast on the field, but those same players would be wise to slow down off it.
It could be the difference between life and death.
Little vowed Thursday to act more responsibly after recently making headlines for wrecking his 2011 gray Audi R8 Coupe in April while driving an estimated 127 mph and for receiving another speeding ticket Monday.
“It’s obviously something that I’ve got to take very seriously and slow my speeds down and be cautious of others on the road,” Little said after practice. “I could have seriously put my life and other lives in danger.”
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he reprimanded Little and Gordon, who also was recently cited for speeding. Chudzinski would not reveal whether he disciplined the players, but he said both of them were remorseful.
Chudzinski said the violations will not affect the playing time of Little and Gordon in the third preseason game Saturday night on the road against the Indianapolis Colts.
“We take that seriously,” Chudzinski said. “It’s not acceptable. I’ve sat down with both of those guys individually and talked to them and addressed that with them as well as with the team.
“All these guys are guys that are learning how to mature. We’re working to build a locker room and a team and a foundation of guys that are accountable.”
Little was charged with drag racing April 13 after he lost control of his Audi, crashing it into a guardrail, knocking down a light pole and leaving about 40 yards of brake tracks on the Jennings Freeway in Cleveland, according to the police report. Little denied racing and said “there were no other cars on the road at the time.”
Little, 24, and a passenger declined medical attention after the one-car crash, which took place at 2:47 a.m., according to records. Alcohol was not suspected, according to the report. Little was fined $350.
“It was really just a mindless effort on my behalf and just not thinking at all, just being careless,” Little said. “... It was just a pothole that burst my two back tires and that was it. … It was a pretty traumatic experience, and it’s something that I learned from, and I’m just trying to move forward.”
Little also was charged with leaving the scene of the crash. He later returned and told police he was driving about 127 mph when he lost control in the 55 mph zone.
“I called my Audi roadside assistance,” Little said. “They said a tow truck would be there within an hour. I went home within the hour and came back, and that’s when the police had showed up.”
Little also was ticketed Monday for driving 81 mph in a 60 mph zone on Interstate 71 in Strongsville. He’s scheduled to appear in Berea Municipal Court on Sept. 4, four days before the Browns open the regular season at home against the Miami Dolphins.
“I was just going with the flow of traffic, and I just happened to look down and I was going a little bit faster than the speed limit,” Little said.
It was at least the fourth time Little has been stopped for traffic violations in the past eight months. On Dec. 21, 2012, he was pulled over for minor offenses, including having an expired sticker on his license plate. On May 28, he was cited for failing to properly display his plates. A warrant was issued twice for Little’s arrest after he failed to appear in court for the crash in April and the license plate violation in May.
“It’s just a very careless effort on my part, not being cautious of when the court’s dates are, having that constant communication with my lawyer to pay the fines,” said Little, who was issued 93 parking tickets on multiple vehicles with nine license plates during his days at the University of North Carolina.
Little said he doesn’t expect the speeding tickets to cost him any playing time. He said he notified the Browns immediately after the crash in April.
Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, a team captain last season, came to Little’s defense.
“You’ve got to slow down,” Jackson said. “Now everything [Little] does is going to be talked about and written about. The last thing you want is something bad to happen out there. … It’s something you have to learn from. You’ve got to slow down and that’s the simplest way I can say it. But it’s not going to affect his playing. Greg has made major strides this year. He’s been more professional. He’s taken on a leadership role.
“Guys have been proud of Greg. He’s been working extremely hard at practice, and to me it’s not a big deal. To the gains that he made, I think it’s an honest mistake. I’m sure Greg is going to be more mindful of it, and he’s been doing a tremendous job for us.”
Gordon, 22, was cited for driving 98 mph in a 60 mph zone Aug. 13 and 45 mph in a 25 mph zone May 10. Both violations were in Cleveland.
Gordon is scheduled to appear in Cleveland Municipal Court on Tuesday.A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court for the offense in May.
Gordon’s decision making was in question even before his driving record drew attention. The NFL suspended him for the first two regular-season games for violating its substance-abuse policy. Gordon blamed prescription cough medicine that contained codeine for triggering the failed test and has insisted he didn’t use it recreationally.
Gordon was not made available for comment Thursday.
“Every decision you make not only affects yourself but the organization and your teammates,” veteran wide receiver Davone Bess said. “And you have to be accountable to not only yourself, but your teammates and the organization. Those guys [Little and Gordon], they’re great teammates. They bust their tail at practice, and stuff happens. It’s just a matter of learning from the mistakes, growing from them and not making the same mistakes again.”
The Browns have been haunted by similar behavior in the past. Former Browns players Kellen Winslow Jr. and Marcus Benard wrecked motorcycles in 2005 and 2011, respectively, and suffered serious injuries.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.