BEREA, Ohio -- With his image tattered and his reputation under attack, Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis tried to stiff arm past another mess in a season spiraling out of control.
Hillis apologized Wednesday for missing a kids Halloween party that he was supposed to attend, blaming his unexcused absence on a miscommunication. Hillis failed to show up at the Boys & Girls Club on Monday to hand out candy to 50 children at the event, which was hosted by former Browns offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley, a club board member.
"I just want to say I'm sorry about the charity event with the Boys and Girls Club," said Hillis, who has missed Cleveland's past two games with a hamstring injury. "There was a lot of miscommunication between me and the management that I had, and if I knew the full depths of it, I wouldn't have missed it.
"I've always made community events before, (but) that shouldn't be an excuse now. Like I said, I'm sorry about everything, and hopefully in the near future, we can be able to make that up."
Bentley had secured a commitment that Hillis would attend from Kyle Hillis, the running back's brother and business manager.
Hillis didn't name his brother when addressing his reasons for missing the event, a nonappearance that triggered a backlash from Cleveland fans and a public-relations gaffe the running back couldn't afford.
Hillis didn't take any questions and promised to talk again Thursday.
Bentley was furious with Hillis following Monday's event and vented on his Twitter page, posting: "Peyton Hillis looking for 10mil guaranteed from Browns and can't show up to kids charity event? (hash)ManPlease."
It has been a stunning fall from grace for Hillis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He endeared himself to Cleveland fans with his bulldozing style, and during the offseason, he won a nationwide fan vote to be on the Madden video game cover.
Hillis has to now wonder if the tribute is more of a curse.
His second season with Cleveland has been entangled in controversy, and he has been sidelined the past two weeks after injuring his hamstring Oct. 16 against the Oakland Raiders. He returned to practice last Wednesday, but he suffered a setback and missed last Sunday's loss at San Francisco.
On Wednesday, coach Pat Shurmur initially told reporters that Hillis would practice as the Browns prepared for this Sunday's game at Houston. However, Hillis was dressed in sweats and left the field with a trainer shortly after the media was allowed in to watch the first 15 minutes.
Hillis was listed as "did not participate" on the Browns' first injury report of the week, and his status for Sunday's game is uncertain.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press