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Injury aside, Josh McCown's words won't be forgotten

Cleveland's endless quarterback dilemma has served as fertile ground for wiseacres, funnymen and quip-machines since the turn of the century.

It's almost entirely deserved, too, because the Browns have swung and missed on roughly 485 signal-callers since their ill-fated return to the league in 1999.

Sunday's loss to the Ravens goes down as another ugly footnote, with Baltimore erasing a 20-0 deficit to topple the Browns 25-20 in a game that ended with a Josh McCown interception deep in Ravens territory.

McCown played through the affair with a painful injury to his non-throwing shoulder, a setback that will sideline the 37-year-old passer for at least Week 3 and thrust rookie Cody Kessler into the driver's seat as the 26th starting quarterback for the Browns since their reboot.

That list includes a rash of forgettable signal-callers, but McCown's words after the game will not soon be forgotten in Cleveland. Nearly breaking down with emotion, the veteran explained to reporters on Sunday why he refused to leave the game:

"I think it's just not wanting to not be out there with your guys, you know?" McCown said. "I got a dad and older brother who I know get up and go to work and sometimes they don't feel great, and they go and they grind. And I got two little boys that -- they're playing football now -- and they get hit and they get banged up and I'm trying to teach them what toughness means. So, for me, it's those things -- and just knowing the window for me right now."

In a wild age when sincerity is regularly replaced by snark, McCown is a reminder of another time. Anyone with a father; anyone with children; anyone with something other than a bleak, void canvas inside of them can feel his words.

It doesn't change what happened on Sunday -- another Browns loss -- but coaches league-wide strive to find players like McCown: Men who lift up the locker room and, in something increasingly rare in 2016, put the group before themselves.

The history under center is ghastly in Cleveland, with the Browns seemingly struggling against a higher power spinning constant streams of dark magic in their direction.

McCown on Sunday, though, put all that madness and trouble in the rear-view mirror for one brief moment, pointing up to something brighter.

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