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A Browns player who tries to keep on smiling during some tough times

Aug 21, 2012 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi


The Morning Kickoff …

Thinking out loud: Why do people hate?

The subject came up while Browns receiver Carlton Mitchell and I talked about his inability to stay healthy this summer and his proclivity to Tweet. A lot of Browns fans apparently think the two subjects are related. They are not.

This was dubbed by many as a “do or die” training camp for Mitchell. He was a nonentity as a rookie in 2010. A broken finger in his second training camp ruined his 2011 season.  Each year the opportunity was there for a receiver – any receiver – to step forward.

As Mitchell’s third NFL season began in OTAs and minicamp in the spring, he looked healthy and vibrant. I called him a “player to watch” this year. I mean, he’s 6-3 and 215 pounds and 24 years old. How long a tree limb did I climb on? He has all the physical tools.

And now this. He has barely practiced because of a leg muscle injury – neither he nor the club will specify -- and has not played mjuch in the first two preseason games. He made one catch for 33 yards in Detroit and did not play in Green Bay after the leg injury acted up again. 

After Mitchell practiced on Monday, we sat down and Mitchell revealed his deep disappointment.

“You work so hard in the offseason …,” Mitchell said, tailing off. “For things to happen the way they did, it’s very unfortunate. But everything is for a reason.

“I’m finally getting back to my normal self. Today I was limited, and took the safe route. I need to practice. I hate missing. I’m going crazy. It’s just tough. I’m not gonna lie.”

Knowing that Mitchell is the most prolific Tweeter on the team, I asked what kind of reaction he’s receiving from his followers.

“People, I don’t know why, they actually hate people,” he said.

Just having fun: Of the 50 or so Browns players with a Twitter account, Mitchell’s following of 23,721 probably ranks in the middle. He certainly trails the followings of Josh Cribbs (118,229), Colt McCoy (103,733) and Joe Haden (94,938).  

But no Browns player can match Mitchell’s number of Tweets (23,277) or the number of people he follows (23,722). Most players Tweet sporadically and follow a few hundred people, mostly other players.

But Mitchell Tweets dozens of times a day and faithfully follows anyone who follows him.

“I just like interacting with people,” Mitchell said. “I follow everyone back. I really don’t talk about football. I tweet Bible verses every morning.

“I have so much fun because I realize everybody’s too serious all the time and I have nothing to hide and I’m just a positive person. I wake up and I try to just think positive and get everybody else going. Because all it takes is something little to make someone smile.”

Mitchell Tweets inspirational quotes and his own observations about life. A typical example is this Tweet from two days ago: “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.”

“The stuff I tweet is a Bible verse, or a positive quote, or I say something funny. I never talk about anyone, don’t cuss, never say anything negative. I won’t retweet cuss words.”

The hazards of Tweeting so much – and playing so little – is that Mitchell receives a lot of negative feedback.

“I lot of people hate me because a lot of people like me,” he said. “It’s weird. But I don’t read articles, don’t look at stuff about what people say about me on the field. It doesn’t bother me. People send me stuff all the time. To the point where I’m like, ‘wow.’ I used to block people. Now I just ignore it.”

Down the stretch: The numbers are crunching on Mitchell now. The team may keep six receivers. There is Greg Little and Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin and Josh Cribbs and Jordan Norwood and Josh Cooper.

I asked coach Pat Shurmur if there is anything Mitchell can do in the last two preseason games to make up for all the time he has missed.

“I think so,” he said. “I think the important thing is he’ll get a chance to play a lot. I want him to show up so we sit back and say, ‘Wow, this guys has made great progress and we really have to consider him being a part of this team.”

Mitchell said, “I understand the business. I understand I need to be out there. It is what it is. I think everyone’s at now or never, if you’re not performing. I’m gonna definitely do my part and do what I can. And the rest is up to them.”

No matter what happens, Mitchell intends to go on Tweeting his inspirations, trying to make his followers laugh or learn something. Is that so wrong?

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

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