Peyton Hillis sets record straight about leaving Cleveland Browns in 2012

Cleveland Browns, Peyton Hillis. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns, Peyton Hillis. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Peyton Hillis says he never wanted to leave the Cleveland Browns

Peyton Hilliswent from a throw-in piece in a trade to a superstar for the Cleveland Browns. Then just as quickly as he burst onto the scene, he was gone.

Cleveland sent former first-round pick quarterback Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos for a sixth-round pick as well as one of their backup running backs, which was Hillis. The 6-foot-1, 240-pound bruising back ended up winning the starting job in Cleveland and quickly became a fan favorite.

Hillis ran for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns that season but was more than just a bulldozer. He was also adept at catching the ball out of the backfield and had another 477 yards and two touchdowns on 61 receptions.

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He was then honored with being on the cover of Madden, but that’s when the curse took hold. Injuries slowed him down and he had just 587 yards in 10 games the following season, which would end up being his last in Cleveland.

Now looking back, Hillis says he wished he would have retired with the Browns. The former running back was recently on 92.3 The Fan and said the team never offered him an official contract so he left. He did admit that he could have done things better and says the lockout that season complicated things.

"“I wish I would’ve retired in Cleveland; I wish that I could’ve played there 10 more years. — Hillis via Bull and Fox, 92.3“"

Hillis also said he still loves the city and he and his wife find every excuse they can to return. The running back even favors The Land over Arkansas, where he played his college football.

In addition to the contract dispute, he touched on rumors that he had lost the love of the game and says those rumors made him feel “terrible.”

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Following his one seasoning Kansas City, Hillis played two seasons with the New York Giants. Head injuries ended his career and he never recaptured the magic he had in 2011 — although Browns fans surely wish he could have done so with them.