In December, Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney allegedly refused to play certain snaps against the Baltimore Ravens, a move that got him benched the next week. More than nine months later, Clowney is wearing a Ravens jersey and will face the Browns for the first time since he parted ways with the team.
The game is circled on his calendar — but he also circled every other game on the calendar, Clowney said Wednesday. Clowney said he’s on to a new year and he wants to put what happened with the Browns behind him.
He addressed the situation briefly. Although he didn’t deny he was eager to leave the Browns, he did deny he ever expressed that discontent. However, it was well reported.
Before the Browns’ final game, Clowney told cleveland.com that he was “95 percent” sure he wouldn’t return to the team. He cited feeling undervalued and overlooked in favor of defensive end Myles Garrett, and he felt that favoritism kept the team from reaching its potential.
“You’re all trying to get somebody into the Hall of Fame when all that matters is winning,” Clowney told cleveland.com. “Everybody got here for a reason, and we can all make plays. I know I am.”
At the time, he made it clear he had no personal issue with Garrett. However, a week later, Clowney publicly apologized to Garrett while stating that he was misrepresented by cleveland.com. The outlet issued its own statement saying it had reported Clowney’s statements verbatim.
Eight months later, Clowney signed with the Ravens. Ahead of his first game against his former team, Clowney interrupted a question to again state he was misrepresented.
“You made it clear that situation wasn’t great at the end of last year,” a reporter started.
“I don’t think I made [anything] clear,” Clowney cut in. “I didn’t talk to anybody. Somebody made it clear for themself to sum up the way they felt. I never talked to anybody. I left [Cleveland on a] high; I played well my last game. I talked to the media that day and said I was talking about the game I played against the Washington [Commanders] – that was the last team I played – and that’s all I was thinking about.”
Maybe details leaked out in “locker room talk,” Clowney said. With the Browns’ poor performance that season, there were fingers pointed and he “ended up on the wrong side of the fence.” Even so, there’s no bad blood, despite the fact he will “never sign and go back.” Instead, he is focused on being “the best Jadeveon Clowney I can be for the Baltimore Ravens.” That means that, yes, the Browns game is circled, but that’s because they’re a division rival.
They’re also a challenge now that they boast one of the best defenses in the league through the first three weeks. Clowney doesn’t pay much attention to other defenses in the NFL (he’s too busy refining his own game and studying opposing offenses), but he’s heard the hype around the Browns.
“They rank No. 1 in just about every [defensive] category,” Clowney said. “You’ve got to give some props for that. They’ve got a lot of good players. You know, they’ve got … who [don’t] they have?”
Having once been a part of that defense, Clowney isn’t surprised by its success. He said it always goes back to the defensive line making a difference. While they’ve revamped the defensive line, Garrett is still the headliner, and Clowney quipped that the way to stop him is simply to “put a lot of guys on him — several.”
For Clowney’s part, joining a new defensive line has revamped his own game. He ranks first on the Ravens in pressures (13) and is tied for second with 1.5 sacks. It’s an improvement from his 29 pressures and three sacks in 12 games for the Browns.
Kyle Hamilton, who leads the team in sacks after his three against the Indianapolis Colts, made sure to attribute his success to Clowney, who drew blockers’ attention. The two were joking about it during and after the game. Clowney has fit in well, both as a player and a teammate, coach John Harbaugh said.
“We’ve always thought the world of him as a player, playing against him, and when you have to scheme against him – the point that you are all making – it’s really tough,” Harbaugh said. “When you face guys like that, and then you have a chance for them to play for you, you’re excited about that. He’s played really well. He fits what we’re doing well and plays hard. I’m glad he’s here.”
Looking back at his time as a Brown, Clowney said he wishes his teammates the best. But he’s a Raven now, so those well wishes don’t extend to Sunday.
“You definitely want to win these games,” Clowney said. “You need these games; they help down the road. So it’s just good to get it going this early in the season.”