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Snake-bitten season makes Hillis a believer in 'Madden Curse'

Did the fabled "Madden Curse" claim another victim this year? According to Peyton Hillis, yes.

The Browns running back graced the cover of the uber-popular video-game franchise this summer, then suffered through a season filled with illness, injury, contract squabbling and even an intervention from his teammates. For a Southern boy who previously believed success was earned in part by how far he could drag a truck, it's been a jarring four months.

"Things haven't worked in my favor this year," Hillis said from his locker Thursday. "There's a few things that happened this year that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about that."

Hillis will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and his future with the Browns remains in doubt. He admitted it's crossed his mind that he could be playing his last game with the Brownson Sunday against the Steelers.

"It has. it has," he said. "But I have a big heart and want to do the best for the fans, I really do. I really enjoyed my time playing in a Browns uniform. I hope I continue to be here."

Hillis has rushed for 211 yards and one touchdown in his last two games, a sign that he still can produce when healthy.

"He's a very fine player that was dealing with injury this year -- a couple of them," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "It was an illness early and then the hamstring in the middle. So I'm sure that was frustrating for him. ... And now that he's healthy, we're seeing production."

A month ago, Hillis' return to the Browns seemed about as likely as the running back selling his home in Arkansas and joining the cast of "Glee." But if Hillis can finish the season with a big performance against the Steelers, it just might present Cleveland with an interesting dilemma.

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