Here's the article from yahoo.com...
Browns release top receiver Kevin Johnson
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
November 11, 2003
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kevin Johnson had hoped to end his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. Instead, he'll have to start it over somewhere else.
In a surprise move, Johnson, the club's leading receiver since 1999, was released Tuesday by Browns coach Butch Davis, who benched the sure-handed wide receiver last week.
``It's a complete shock to me,'' Johnson told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in his home. ``I had a great 4 1/2 years in Cleveland, but I never thought it would end this way. I'm still trying to figure this out.''
Browns fans, too, are left wondering why Davis would release Johnson -- the team's most consistent receiver -- at this point in the season and after signing him to a four-year, $13.35 million contract extension with a $3.5 million signing bonus before last season.
Johnson said Davis called him into his office on Tuesday to inform him that he was no longer in the team's future plans.
``I'm really disappointed in the way it ended, simply because of all that I've done for him (Davis),'' Johnson said. ``I never questioned him and I never talked bad about him to anyone or about anything. It doesn't make sense.''
Despite leading the Browns (3-6) with 41 catches for 381 yards this season, Johnson had his starting job taken away by Davis, who was displeased with the 27-year-old's production.
Two weeks ago in a loss to San Diego, Johnson dropped a crucial pass on fourth down in the fourth quarter, cut short a route that led to an interception and underthrew a pass on a reverse that should have been a touchdown.
Davis was also critical of Johnson's blocking.
``This is not a knee-jerk reaction,'' Davis said in a statement. ``We have been trying for almost three seasons to help Kevin perform to the level of expectations we have had for him. I am disappointed our staff has not been able to get him to accept the expectations we have of how the wide receiver position should be played.''
Johnson had 192 receptions for 2,181 yards and 15 TDs in 41 games under Davis.
Johnson was stunned to hear Davis' reasons behind releasing him.
``I guess I wasn't good enough,'' he said. ``This is crazy.''
Johnson's relationship with Davis had been strained for some time. As early as 2001, Davis' first season in Cleveland, he tried to trade Johnson.
Benched last week in favor of second-year wideout Andre' Davis, Johnson only got on the field for a handful of plays in Sunday's 41-20 loss at Kansas City.
He had one catch, giving him 73 straight games with a reception. Davis had three catches for 35 yards starting in Johnson's place.
Johnson said he never questioned his benching. In fact, he was the one who told Andre' Davis that he would be starting.
``I took it like a man,'' said Johnson, whose 315 receptions tied him for fourth on the club's career list. ``I supported every guy who went in there.''
Johnson had started 71 of 72 games before having to spend most of last Sunday on the sideline.
``It was very disappointing not to be in there,'' Johnson said. ``We went 3-for-11 on third downs -- that's where I make my living. All I've done is make plays for this team.''
Within hours of being released by the Browns, Johnson sat in his living room and fielded several calls from NFL head coaches interested in signing him. Within 24 hours, Johnson can be claimed by off waivers by another team. If he goes unclaimed, Johnson will become a free agent.
Johnson's cell phone was also ringing nonstop from Cleveland players offering their support and wishing their popular ex-teammate well.
In his statement, Davis indicated Johnson wasn't going to be able to work his way back into the starting lineup.
``This will enable him to get a fresh start, and it will allow our young receivers to continue to develop and improve,'' Davis said.
A message seeking comment from Johnson's agent, Tom Condon, was not immediately returned.
The Browns said president Carmen Policy will address Johnson's release in a Wednesday morning news conference.
Johnson was the Browns' second overall pick in 1999 when the club returned to the league as an expansion team. Quarterback Tim Couch's favorite target for four seasons, Johnson had his best season in 2001 when he set career highs with 84 receptions, 1,097 yards and nine touchdowns.
``I wanted to end my career here,'' Johnson said. ``That's what hurts me the most.''
Associated Press Writer Joe Milicia contributed to this report.
Updated on Tuesday, Nov 11, 2003 8:31 pm EST
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. - John Wooden