CLEVELAND -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer learned an important lesson about being a good teammate over the last week.
Prior to Sunday’s 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium, a video surfaced that showed Kizer at a bar well after midnight on Friday night, and although defiant in his initial responses to questions about his commitment, he understands now that leaders eliminate distractions, not create them.
“I have talked to a bunch of people,” Kizer said. “From my parents to my mentors to some of my teammates, and obviously, there are a lot of different messages you can get from that, but the overall message was the one that I gave, and that is at the end of the day, the bigger message is as a leader of this team, you can’t create distractions.
“That is the one that hit home the most. I just want to make sure that I can do whatever I can now that everything I do moving forward, from my preparation to how I spend my free time, is helping this team head in the right direction and not distracting us from the ultimate goal.”
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Kizer said last weekend’s events were one of the many things he does throughout the week to create a stronger bond with his teammates, and that it is very rare for him to be out that late on a Friday night, especially during a game week.
To make matters worse, Kizer was benched early in the second half of the loss to the Titans.
During the second half, Jackson benched Kizer mid-game for the second time in three weeks, this time in favor of second-year signal-caller Cody Kessler. Kizer completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 114 yards, but threw two more interceptions and has a league-high 11 passing turnovers in just six starts this season.
In relief, Kessler completed 10 of his 19 throws for 121 yards with one interception.
In his first six NFL starts, Kizer completed 93 of his 179 attempts (51.9 percent) for 965 yards with three touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Additionally, Kizer has taken 12 sacks for 63 lost yards and holds a 47.8 quarterback rating.
Regardless of his successes or failures, Kizer knows now that there is no such thing as a “private life” for professional athletes.
“Our generation is definitely different from what he did,” Kizer said of his father, Derek, who played basketball at Bowling Green State University. “Everyone always jokes around about athletes back in the day and if they had cell phones or if they had social media, how much different things would be. That is the reality of the fact.
“This is the world we live in now. With that comes a lot more responsibility as guys who appear on TV every day and have some sort of fame to what they are doing. It is on me to once again make sure I do whatever I can to allow social media to be a positive influence on this team, a positive influence on my brand and continue to learn from the mistakes that I have had in my past.”