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Former Browns coach Romeo Crennel, now directing the Kansas City Chiefs, spoke to members of the local media Wednesday. Many of the questions dealt with Saturday's tragedy in which linebacker Javon Belcher murdered his girlfiend Kasandra Perkins, the mother of their 3-month-old daughter Zoey, then committed suicide in front of Crennel, GM Scott Pioli and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.
Q: Hey, what’s going on?
A: I’m doing good, guys. You know what, it’s a tough situation to have to work through and go through, but we’re trying to work through it and move forward as best we can. And the players, they’ve been really good about leaning on each other and trying to help each other and the coaching staff the same way. And all of those guys have done a nice job getting us through this. And then we’re going to get through it and then concentrate on football as best we can.
Q: What did you draw from to get you through this personally?
A: Well, like I mentioned before, my father was a career military man and seeing his strength as a man in different situations. And my mother was a very patient lady and seeing her patience and how she dealt with things, I think that combination helped me get through it and deal with it.
Q: It is with you every moment of the day?
A: Well, you know what, you can’t go away from it. I’ll never be able to go away from it. But in the business that we’re in, we have to try to move on and we have to try to focus on our job at hand. And that’s the way life is also. Because these situations occur in life probably more than they should and more than we want 'em to and other people have to deal with 'em and move forward and so you have to do that. And these young men, they need a strong leader to help them do that. And so that’s what my job is and that’s what im trying to do.
Q: Have a lot of players come to you personally for help dealing with this?
A: No. what we’ve done is we have grief counselors that were at the hotel last week, they’re in the building and will be in here most of this week. And so the players can avail themselves of that help if they need to. You know, there are a couple of guys who said thanks and things like that, but it’s because they had strong feelings for Jovan and they’re hurting and they needed an arm around 'em. So I provided that.
Q: How do you turn the page to get them thinking about football?
A: Well, like I told 'em Sunday morning, when you go out there on that field and you cross the white line, even though you have problems and you’re feeling bad for yourself when the ball is snapped the opponent, they’re going to try to beat you. And if you’re not mentally ready, then you’re going to get beat and you’re going to lose. And so they had to focus on that and focus to produce and to play the game and we were fortunate enough to be able to win the game. And I think the same thing will occur Sunday because there was a lot of emotion involved in the game this past Sunday and probably you’re not going to have that same level of emotion, but the same thing still holds true, once you cross that white line the opponent, they’re going to try to beat you. And so you have to be focused on the job at hand and to do that job the best you can.
Q: What can you say about the way Brady handled this crisis?
A: Well, Brady has been very level-headed all along, ever since I had him there in Cleveland. He handles himself very well and as a quarterback, he is somewhat a born leader, because you have to be a leader to be a quarterback. And he displayed that leadership last weekend and during the week and I think he’ll display that leadership Sunday.
Q: How did the events affect Jamaal Charles (whose wife is a cousin of Perkins)?
A: He had a double-whammy. I think that impacted him but just like the other players, when we went on the field on Sunday we were able to take our minds off our problems for a few hours and I think that that was therapy, that was good therapy for us and now you work through this week then hopefully we will be able to focus again this coming Sunday to take our minds off our problems and see if we can try to move forward because eventually you have to move forward. They say time heals all wounds and even though you never lose those wounds, but time does heal wounds.
Q: After a suicide, people ask what could I have done differently? Do you have any of those thoughts?
A: No, not really because I tried to do everything I could and I feel comfortable with what I tried to do and it just wasn't enough.
Q: It seems as if Cleveland guys have taken a lead role in this.
A: All my players are like that. I've got a good team. I've got a good group of young men with good attitudes who work hard every day. Our results on Sunday during the course of the year haven't been what we wanted it to be, but we're young and we're growing and we're learning and so I was not surprised by anybody on this team trying to help their teammates."
Q: Have you had time to deal with your own feelings?
A: Well, it's been overwhelming but you know I try to compartmentalize and I have moments here and there and you get past your moment and then do what you have to do to keep things going.
Q: Are there different challenge this week, an emotional letdown?
A: Sure. That's a possibility and we have to be cognizant of that. Just like last week I was cognizant of the fact that I didn't know how we were going to handle it mentally. Like I told them, 'You are prepared to play a football game. You worked during the week, you've installed the game plan and you've practiced and you are prepared to play in the game, but mentally is the question can we put our tragedy aside for the few hours that we have to play and then still play.' To their credit and to their character, they were able to put the misery aside, play a good football game and then come out victorious.
Q: Considering how Quinn played, what is his future as long-term starter?
A: Well, you know, he did a nice job for us on Sunday, and he's been doing a good job of managing the game, and the last couple of weeks this team has been doing some of the things that we've been talking about all year that we can not do and we have been doing. We cant turn the ball over. We were able to put some points on the board, the defense was able to make some stops at critical times and special teams made an impact and so when you do those things you're in the game and you give yourself a chance and so the last couple weeks we've been able to do that and hopefully on Sunday we can continue with that.
Q: Except for Derrick Anderson in 2007 your quarterbacks have always struggled. How tough is that as a head coach?
A: In this coaching business, and I learned a long time ago in coaching, you work with the guys you have and you try to make them the best they can be. And then you go from there.
If you don’t have what people consider to be a quality quarterback then eventually you work and try to acquire that position if that’s the way you feel. But from a coaching standpoint, our philosophy is we always work with the guys we have on the team and try to make them the best they can be.
Q: What are you seeing from the Browns?
A: They’re a young team and what they’ve done is gain some confidence in their ability to do what their coaches are asking them to do. Their coaches are putting them in positions that they could use their ability and their strong points. So they’re playing to their strong points and trying to minimize weaknesses and doing a good job of it and they’ve been in the games.
Q: Brady was here two years before you got fired. Did he have the full commitment of everyone in the building?
A: Yes, he did. The first year there was a quarterback competition and then he got the starting job and then he got hurt. All those things impact a player’s career. Really, he didn’t have much time as the quarterback. He was still growing and still learning. I think when the next staff came in he was still in a similar situation and then he got moved. He ended up going out to Denver and was a backup at Denver and them we got him here and he was a backup here. And now he’s in the starting position and he did a really good job. So we’ll see if he can do another good job. That’s what you look for in any player to see if they consistently can do a good job and produce for you.
Q: Charlie Weis was always big on Brady. You think Brady can still be an elite QB?
A: Charlie still feels that way, as a matter of fact. When Charlie was here, he didn’t have Brady, but he had Cassel and Cassel did a nice job. He was familiar with Cassel. He was familiar with Brady because he had him at Notre Dame and did a tremendous job for him at Notre Dame. So Charlie has a relationship with him and knows exactly what his strong points are and was able to get the most out of him and that’s what we’re trying to do here as well.
Q: What can you say about Peyton Hillis?
A: He’s been good. The only thing, he got banged up a little bit early in the season and missed some time. But this past week he was the guy I expected him to be. He ran well. He can block. He can catch. I also look for him to continue that.
Q: Braylon Edwards just got cut.
A: Braylon did a nice job for us and that’s one of the reasons we drafted him is because he had good ability and he performed well. Young players, when they get into the league, encounter a lot of different situations and a lot of different things and everybody handles those things differently. He’s been on a couple different teams since that time. It’s unfortunate he hasn’t been able to stick, but that’s the way the NFL is.