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Browns thankful not to play Sun.

BEREA, Ohio – Butch Davis isn’t preparing a game plan for the Pittsburgh Steelers anymore. He won’t be coaching the Cleveland Browns in an NFL game Sunday night.

So, Davis will do something more important.

“I’m just going to spend time with my wife and son,” said Davis, his eyes welling with tears. “And thank God that I’ve got both of them.”

Relief.

That’s what Cleveland’s front office, coaching staff and players felt on Thursday shortly after commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced the league will not play its 15 games this weekend following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

“There’s a strong sense of relief among our players that we are not playing,” team president Carmen Policy said. “I know this was a very, very difficult decision for the commissioner. But we felt it was right to walk away this weekend.”

After Tagliabue’s announcement, Browns linebacker Jamir Miller, quarterback Tim Couch, center Dave Wohlabaugh and defensive end Keith McKenzie met with reporters to discuss the decision and their feelings.

The players supported the commissioner’s choice not to play. They said that practicing the past two days was nearly impossible after seeing the atrocities on TV.

“You really couldn’t quit thinking about it,” Couch said. “I thought it was ultimately the right decision. I couldn’t see 80,000 people coming to a stadium and cheering with all that’s going on in the country right now.”

The Browns were scheduled to open Heinz Field in Pittsburgh with a nationally televised game against the Steelers, their biggest rival.

On Wednesday, the club had announced it would make the 120-mile trip to Pittsburgh by bus instead of flying by charter. However, McKenzie said many of the Browns were more concerned about a terrorist attack on a packed stadium than being in the air.

“A lot of people had doubts about our safety if we had played,” he said. “Especially, in a nationally-televised game. If you wanted a perfect target, that was a perfect target.”

Miller said he gained a better understanding of the grave situation in New York during a teleconference Wednesday night with Giants players Michael Strahan and Jason Sehorn as well as Jets center Kevin Mawae.

“First and foremost, they weren’t getting on a plane,” Miller said. “They weren’t traveling. They saw the carnage. They saw everything. How could you focus on a game when your mind is focused on other things?”

Beyond being in danger from an outside threat, Miller said, the players were concerned about getting injured going into a game distracted.

“If you aren’t focused, anything can happen to you,” Miller said. “You can die on the field.”

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