|Monday, September 9
Updated: September 11, 5:18 PM ET
Rudd's antics land him in fans' doghouse
BEREA, Ohio -- Dwayne Rudd's orange helmet rolled. His head won't.
Despite cries from irate fans who want Rudd released for his boneheaded play Sunday, Cleveland coach Butch Davis said his linebacker has been forgiven for throwing his helmet and costing the Browns a season-opening victory.
"First of all, he's not going to be cut,'' Davis said Monday. "Guys make mistakes, and he made one.''
Yeah, a whopper that shook even die-hard Browns fans who have grown accustomed to having their hearts broken. They've survived The Drive, The Fumble and The Move.
Now, they're living with The Helmet. All because of Rudd.
That's Rudd, as in Mudd.
"This guy stinks,'' Dominic Smith, of Garfield Heights, said as he pointed to a newspaper photograph of Rudd. "Dwayne Rudd needs to be cut because that was a stupid, stupid mistake.''
Rudd gained sports infamy on Sunday and a place alongside the likes of Jim Marshall, Leon Lett and Garo Yepremian for making one of the dumbest plays in NFL history.
Thinking he had sacked Kansas City quarterback Trent Green on the game's final play to preserve a win for Cleveland, Rudd grabbed his helmet through the ear holes, ripped it off his head and beat his chest in celebration.
Problem was, the game wasn't over.
Unbeknownst to Rudd, who had his back to the play, Green alertly flipped the ball to offensive tackle John Tait, who lumbered 28 yards to Cleveland's 25.
Rudd was then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the ball was moved halfway to the goal line -- NFL games cannot end on a defensive penalty -- for Kansas City's Morten Anderson, who kicked a 30-yard field goal with 0:00 showing on the clock to give the Chiefs a 40-39 win.
Just when Browns fans thought they'd seen it all, Rudd showed them they hadn't.
"Well, they found a new way to lose,'' said Robert McDonnell of Cleveland. "Rudd wasn't very intelligent. He should have watched to see the play was still going on.''
Rudd, who spoke for nearly a half-hour following Sunday's game, had nothing to say following Monday's practice.
He walked to his stall and slipped on his sandals almost as quickly as he had discarded his helmet and left the Browns' locker room before he could be approached by reporters.
Davis said he spoke to Rudd earlier in the day about his helmet-flinging infraction.
"My message to Dwayne was that he has to maintain his composure,'' Davis said. "There is absolutely no bigger way that you could taunt an opponent than to win the game and have them look at the scoreboard and go home with a victory. I can't think of anything more heartbreaking than to have won the ballgame and give it back to them.''
Davis was candid in his criticism of Rudd following Sunday's game, calling it a "dumb, bad play'' and the penalty, "stupid.'' With some time to reflect, Davis seemed to ease up on Rudd, one of Cleveland's defensive leaders who led the club in tackles last season.
"I think people need to understand that this is not the easiest game in the world to play,'' Davis said. "People beat on each other for 60 minutes. Guys get clipped. Guys get their eyes gouged. Emotions run high. I don't know specifically what went through Dwayne's mind.
"I'm going to assume that Dwayne felt like he (Green) was down and it ended on a sack. Had that been the case, then what he did after the game wouldn't have mattered. But the game wasn't over.''
Not surprisingly, Rudd's teammates rushed to his defense. And at least one of them didn't find any fault with his decision to celebrate a victory before it was official.
"Sometimes you get caught up in the emotions of the game,'' said rookie running back William Green. "He made a great play and I really don't see what he did wrong. You don't call a penalty like that in that situation. I feel it was an unnecessary call. I thought it was over. I don't think he did anything wrong.''
Judging by the early public outcry, many Browns fans feel quite differently.
They're stashing Rudd's ill-timed helmet throw in their memory banks next to all the other bizarre moments and painful losses in Cleveland sports history.
"It was the weirdest outcome of a game I'd ever seen in my life,'' said David Drucker of Lyndhurst, who attended the game. "I'd like to blame the refs and say they should have swallowed the whistle. But that's just the way it goes in Cleveland, Ohio.''