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Brown Ponders Suit Against NFL

While Orlando Brown's former teammates prepared for their next game without him, his lawyers were contemplating possible legal action against the NFL.

Brown, who hasn't played or practiced since he was accidentally struck in the right eye by a referee's thrown penalty flag in December, was released by the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.

He came to the team's training facility Wednesday morning to say goodbye.

"I'll talk to you guys later," Brown said to reporters before driving away.

Meanwhile, Clifford Stern, an associate in lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr.'s firm, said other teams have expressed an interest in signing the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Brown, who is still experiencing pain in his eye and hasn't been able to work out in nine months.

Stern said if Brown is not physically able to play pro football again that a lawsuit against the NFL was possible. Brown retained Cochran, who defended O.J. Simpson, to explore the league's liability.

"If he can't play, then we would look at lawsuit or some other recourse," Stern said. "This is a very unique injury. It is not just part and parcel from playing football. This is an injury that was caused by a referee's negligence."

Stern said he met with Brown in the last week, and that he has also discussed the offensive tackle's situation with league officials.

Since being injured, Brown has been limited to riding a stationary bike and walking while waiting for his eye to heal. He spent time at the Browns' training complex, riding a stationary bike and walking a hill adjacent to the practice fields.

After cleaning out his locker, Brown wrote a farewell message to his teammates, who like everyone else, called him "Zeus". It said: "Work hard, play hard."

"It showed how much he cared about the team and how much he wants us to do well," fullback Marc Edwards said. "Even with him not playing, he was a pretty big presence around here. You knew when Zeus was around. He's going to be missed."

Browns coach Chris Palmer said the decision to waive Brown weighed heavily on him for weeks. He had several discussions with Brown, who a year ago was made the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history with a six-year, $27 million contract.

Brown told Palmer that he wanted to get on the field so badly that he was willing to ignore his doctors' advice and sign an injury waiver.

"I said, 'Why would you do that?' You have three lovely children and a wife'," Palmer said. "There comes a time where as a coach you have to look yourself in the mirror. We know there's a risk in this game, but when does the risk outweih the reward? As I told him, there's no gold watches in this business. Coaches don't get gold watches. Players don't get gold watches. You leave when you don't want to leave. There's no retirement parties."

Palmer said he came away feeling good that he did what was best for Brown and his family.

"I think what we did was the right thing," Palmer said. "We tried to give him as much time as we could. The information Zeus gave me was that there was a high risk if he goes back on the field. That's something he has to weigh, but how do I look his family in the face if he goes out and loses his eyesight? What kind of person am I?"

Brown was paid three game checks this season, totaling $374,000. And because he was on the physically unable to perform list, he is eligible for $82,000 in severance and other benefits under the league's collective bargaining agreement.

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