With few media outlets paying much heed to PFT’s earlier claim Browns WR Kellen Winslow (above) has dangerously swollen balls, Cleveland has all but confirmed the wide receiver’s claim his recently revealed staph infection was kept secret from teammates — despite a half dozen prior incidents of Browns players being diagnosed with staph. “Perhaps Winslow realizes now that, effectively, he is indeed a piece of meat,” observes the Plain-Dealer’s Bill Livingston. “The Browns just don’t believe in ‘tenderizing.'”

The temptation is to say “A plague on both their houses!”

Except the plague has already arrived, in the form of staph infections, chewing away at the health of Kellen Winslow twice, ending the career of LeCharles Bentley and endangering that of Joe Jurevicius.

Winslow, along with Bentley — who asked for and received his release in training camp — and, according to reports, Jurevicius, all never heard from Savage, the Browns’ top football man, during their convalescence.

Years ago, former Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer drew raised eyebrows around the NFL when he delivered hot food to flu-ridden free agent signee and pass-rush specialist Charles Haley. Haley was supposed to be a malcontent, a team wrecker. The Cowboys’ arch-rivals, the 49ers, had said good riddance. But he responded to Switzer’s small gesture of human kindness by creating a firestorm in opposing backfields, helping Dallas win the Super Bowl.

Crennel and Winslow’s teammates did speak to him while he was hospitalized, but how big a deal could picking up the phone have been for Savage? Anyone who has ever spent even one night in a hospital knows that messages received there carry values of compassion and empathy far beyond ordinary experience.