1. Peyton Hillis
If every team had a Paul Bunyan figure, Peyton Hills would be the Browns.
It all seemed too good to be true. Hills showed up to Cleveland with 13 carries from the 2000 season. He was acquired in the trade that sent Brady Quinn to the Broncos.
When he got to Cleveland, he proceeded to rush for 1,177 yards and 10 touchdowns. Memorable games? Oh yeah. His 184-yard, two-touchdown effort against Bill Belichick and the mighty Patriots are the things legends are made of.
The future Hall of Fame coach even made a point to track Hillis down after the game to shake his hand.
From there, Hilis won the prize NFL players dream of: The cover of Madden. He spent his offseason dragging firetrucks across football fields in his home state of Arkansas. He was larger than life.
Then, it seems like he got strep throat and no one ever heard from him again. Well, that’s not technically true, but Hills’ star faded as quickly as it rose.
First, there was speculation he would retire to became an agent, a rumor Hillis attributed to the Browns as a way of bringing his price down. Then there was the throat. His toughness was questioned. When he returned, he hurt his hamstring, then he got married on a day he was supposed to be rehabbing.
In 2012, the illnesses and injuries limited Hillis to 10 games. He rushed for just 587 yards. The Browns didn’t even make an effort to keep him. Hillis went to Kansas City for a year, and then spent two years with the Giants before he called it a career.