Originally created 04/08/00

Browns concerned about tackle's eye



CLEVELAND -- Browns offensive tackle Orlando Brown, struck in the right eye by an official's weighted penalty flag last season, still is suffering from blurred vision and could be sidelined for six to eight months.

"If we had to practice tomorrow, he would not practice," Browns coach Chris Palmer said Friday.

Just last week, during the NFL owner's meeting in Florida, Palmer said Brown's injury was potentially career threatening.

However, Palmer said Brown, who is under doctors' orders not to work out until his eye improves, told him he is not considering retirement.

Palmer spoke with Brown on Thursday in his office and the two reviewed game film together of Penn State defensive stars LaVar Arrington and Courtney Brown.

"He is not pondering retirement," the coach said.

If Brown is not ready to practice by the time the Browns open training camp in July, the team could place him on the physically unable-to-perform list. That move would not cost the Browns a roster spot and Brown could rejoin the team when he's cleared to play.

There's also a possibility the Browns could put Brown on the injured reserve list, which would sideline him for the 2000 season. He would still be paid his $2.1 million salary.

During a Dec. 19 home game against Jacksonville, referee Jeff Triplette accidentally struck the 6-foot-7, 350-pound tackle in the eye with his penalty flag, which was weighted with BBs. Brown pushed the official to the ground after being hit.

Brown, whose father is blind from glaucoma, said concern for his eyesight caused him to storm back on the field and shove Triplette. Brown was hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye.

The league initially suspended Brown indefinitely, ending the penalty in late February. Brown missed the final two weeks of the regular season -- the Browns were off in Week 17 -- and lost more than $49,000 in salary.

Brown has not spoken to the media since December, and his agent, Tom Condon, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

While other Browns players lift weights at the team's suburban training complex, Brown cannot

take part in any strenuous activity.

"He's been in the sauna and he's been around the facility, but he has not done anything physically to prepare himself for the season," Palmer said.

Palmer said Brown's injury and the uncertain timetable for his return is something he can relate to. Last summer, one of his brothers was seriously injured in a car accident and lost his voice for three months before it suddenly returned.

"We're hoping the same thing will happen for Zeus, that one morning he'll wake up and his vision will be back," Palmer said. "But we can't bank on that. Hopefully, he will be better and ready to go."

Team doctors told Palmer that Brown's vision could take as long as eight months to clear.

Meanwhile, with just a week left until draft day, the Browns are no closer to deciding whether to take Arrington or Courtney Brown with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

"I'm agonizing between the two," said Dwight Clark, Cleveland's director of football operations.