Browns' Rudd Not Thrown Off By Ridicule

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Cleveland Browns fans aren't the only ones steaming mad at Dwayne Rudd. Even little Colin Rudd is upset that his daddy threw his helmet.

"He's hurting," Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd said of his 5-year-old son. "He was the first one who asked me, what was I doing?"

Rudd has gotten grief from coast to coast since his blunder on Sunday -- a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking off and flinging his helmet -- cost the Browns a season-opening win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

On Wednesday, Rudd, standing about 10 feet from where his helmet hung on a hook in his locker, talked for more than 30 minutes about the play.

Just as he did following the 40-39 loss, Rudd explained that he thought he had sacked Kansas City quarterback Trent Green on the game's final play before he pulled his helmet off and flung it.

He's sorry it happened, but the linebacker feels no need to apologize to Cleveland fans, his teammates or anybody else.

"The fans are hurting. I'm hurting. The whole locker room is hurting," he said. "I'm sorrowful. I didn't want to do what I did."

Rudd said he was caught up in the emotion of a hard-fought, season-opening game when he spun away from the pile of bodies around Green, lifted off his helmet and flung it.

"I hope people understand that I thought the game was over," he said. "It was like one of those big, 'Oops, my bad'. It's one of those things. That yellow flag laying on the ground broke the hearts of the team, the fans and myself."

Rudd's back was turned and he didn't see Green somehow flip the ball to offensive lineman John Tait, who rumbled down the sideline into field goal range for Morten Andersen. After the ball was moved half the distance to the goal as a result of Rudd's penalty, Andersen's 30-yard kick won it with 0:00 on the clock.

Rudd, the Browns' leading tackler last season, didn't fault the officials.

"I was totally wrong for what I did," he said. "It deserved a 15-yard penalty, I said it the day I done it. That's the bottom line. Everything that happened, call it a fluke or whatever, but it was correct officiating, and they should have had the opportunity to go down and kick the field goal -- like they did."

Rudd said he was unaware of the public flogging he's taking on sports talk radio and TV across the country and around office water coolers in Cleveland.

The six-year veteran ventured out in public on Tuesday, but said he didn't get any flak from fans. Rudd doesn't expect any, either.

"I don't think anybody's going to say anything. I'm a little too big," he joked. "I usually wear a cutoff shirt so they can see my arms."

Rudd isn't sure what kind of backlash he'll get this Sunday at home. However, he does know the quickest way to get back in their good graces.

"The only way I can win them back is not going to be with words, it's going to be with wins, good play," he said. "I feel a little incentive to give something back to the fans with a great performance."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)