Browns' Green suspended by NFL

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - A chaotic week for the Cleveland Browns got crazier when running back William Green was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse program.

The suspension of the club's leading rusher on Thursday came two days after the Browns released wide receiver Kevin Johnson, Cleveland's top playmaker since 1999.

"It has been a very difficult week," team president Carmen Policy said.

Green was already enrolled in the league's treatment program, and the suspension means the second-year back had twice violated his personal program.

The 23-year-old was suspended for marijuana use at Boston College. The league may have placed Green in the first stage of their treatment program because of what happened in college or because of a positive test since he joined the Browns.

The Browns said the violation which led to Green's four-game suspension involved the use of alcohol.

"I'm confident he's going to work at overcoming whatever problems he has and we are going to support him 100 percent," Policy said.

Green was arrested Oct. 27 on charges of drunken driving and marijuana possession.

The Browns suspended him for last Sunday's game at Kansas City for "conduct detrimental to the team", and the league will count that game as part of its suspension.

Green, who will lose $70,588, was informed of his NFL suspension on Saturday and decided to forgo an appeal. He is not eligible to play until Dec. 8 when the Browns host the Rams.

Policy said despite Green's problems, the Browns consider him a big part of their future.

"We're going to do our darndest day and night to help him do whatever he has to do to keep his life in order," Policy said.

Green's off-field infractions may have led to him sliding to the No. 16 overall pick in the 2002 draft despite being the highest-rated running back in that year's class.

Policy said the Browns were aware of Green's past problems before they drafted him, but the club felt it could help him overcome them.

"There is a risk when you draft any player," he said.

Last month, Green was arrested on DUI charges after police in suburban Westlake pulled him over for driving recklessly. Police said they also found a small bag of marijuana.

Policy said Green, who hasn't spoken to the media since his arrest, is sorry for his actions.

"He breaks your heart, because he's contrite," Policy said. "His reaction to accepting the suspension immediately goes a long way in my mind to saying we've taken a pretty big step in the right direction."

Following a slow start last season, Green rushed for 887 yards and six touchdowns. He gained 726 yards in the final seven games, leading the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 1994.

Green has rushed for 559 yards and one touchdown this season, but he missed Cleveland's game at New England with a separated right shoulder.

The next day, Green was arrested just a few hours after leaving the team's training facility. He failed a field sobriety test and a breath test, which showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.165 percent -- more than twice Ohio's legal limit of 0.08 percent, police said.

James Jackson will start in Green's spot on Sunday against Arizona, and the Browns activated rookie running back Lee Suggs from the physically unable to perform list.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)