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Browns: Crowell opens camp with atonement on his mind

Running back Isaiah Crowell took another step toward rebuilding his image and proving to the Browns he’s truly sorry for an offensive illustration he posted on social media.

BEREA — Browns running back Isaiah Crowell doesn’t know if he will be cheered or booed when he runs onto the practice field today.
Regardless of the reaction, the third-year pro plans on focusing on football — and not the social media firestorm he created earlier in the month.
“I feel like I can shake it off and move on,” Crowell said Thursday on the eve of training camp. “I’m trying to be the best I can be for my teammates and coaches, but I understand what’s going on.
“I know there’s been a lot of backlash. I understand if people say bad things. Whatever people say, I understand. I’m being accountable for my mistakes and I apologize.”
Crowell has done little but apologize since July 11, when his inflammatory Instagram post became a national news story. It featured an illustration of a policeman having his throat slit from behind, along with a racially charged caption.
The Alabama State product subsequently promised to donate his first game paycheck of $35,294.12 to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation. He also accepted an invitation to attend the funeral for officer Patrick Zamarripa in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It was the first time I had ever been to a cop’s funeral, and really the experience, it wowed me,” said Crowell, who was dismissed from the University of Georgia’s football team after being arrested on a felony weapons charge on June 29, 2012.
“I met (DFOF president Sgt. Demetrick) Pennie, and he’s a really good guy. He talked to me for a long time while I was there. I now have a whole other outlook on the police and what they do.”
Pennie and Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams both said they believed that Crowell’s remorse was genuine. Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Stephen Loomis also accepted his apology and encouraged him to become a force for change in the community.
People on Twitter, however, continue to direct vulgar vitriol at the 23-year-old Crowell. For that reason, Cleveland coach Hue Jackson admits that Crowell may never be forgiven by everyone.
“That could be the case — and rightfully so,” Jackson said. “It was very disappointing what he did, but at the same time, we don’t feel like that’s Crow’s character. I just hope that everybody gives him an opportunity to prove that as we move forward.”
Crowell led the Browns with 707 rushing yards last season, prompting Jackson to name him the starter shortly after being hired in January. The 5-foot-11, 225-pounder has 13 touchdowns in 32 NFL games and is in the final year of his initial pro contract.
Whether he remains with Cleveland beyond 2016 largely depends on how he conducts himself over the next five months. Of note, the team issued a blistering statement about Crowell’s post just hours after it became a hot button topic.
“It all starts with, obviously, great disappointment in his action in the first place,” Browns head of football operations Sashi Brown said. “We don’t skip past that. It was a huge mistake for him.
“Crow, to his credit, called both Hue and I on his own to be accountable. He has taken steps, at least at the outset, to make something that was very wrong into a right. Hopefully, some good can come from some of this.”
Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianDulik.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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