Now that Frank Minnifield is no longer the 'cornered...

By ROBERTO DIAS, UPI Sports Writer

PARMA, Ohio -- Now that Frank Minnifield is no longer the 'cornered back,' he can devote his energies to lifting weights of a different kind off his shoulders.

Minnifield has joined the Cleveland Browns camp, and participated Monday in weightlifting exercises at a health club.


This past weekend, the NFL office in New York approved his four-year, $1.1 contract with the Browns. And, according to the cornerback, his former U.S. Football League team has signed a document waiving any and all rights to him.

'The Arizona Wranglers no longer have any claims on me,' he said. 'That's my understanding, and that's why I'm here. It's time to start all over ... again.'

The Wranglers claimed that Minnifield had an option year remaining on his contract, something the player and his agent denied.

Last week, an attorney for Minnifield obtained a temporary restraining order in Louisville, Ky., permitting the player to join the Browns.

'It's settled,' Minnifield said. 'Now, I have to get settled.'

Minnifield said worked out at his Louisville home while awaiting word on his status, but admits he might have done more with his idle hours.

'I should have prepared myself better in relation to learning the Browns' system,' he said. 'I realize expectations for me are high, and so are mine. I really want to help this club.


'So, I'm going to work as hard as I can. I just finished playing a USFL schedule, so I'm pretty much in shape. It's just a question of getting my reaction time back to normal.'

Cleveland coach Sam Rutigliano said that Minnifield still isn't officially activated.

'We have a special exemption to carry a 50th player for two weeks,' said the coach. 'We will consider various possibilities until then. Frank may be ready by our second game against the Rams (in Los Angeles on Sept. 9).'

Minnifield said he saw himself 'getting involved in special teams and nickle and dime situations. I like variety.'

Rutigliano agreed.

'Frank has a lot of talent,' said the coach. 'He's only 5-foot-9, but he can jump and he can run. He will help us.'

Minnifield admits that, when he left the Browns' camp two weeks ago after spending time watching forlornly from the sidelines, he believed he might not play football this season.

'I was pessimistic, and I wanted to get away from all the controversy like a fighter goes to a neutral corner,' he says. 'But, I thought I'd be in Louisville all year.

'That's where my mom, Catherine, helped me. She prayed for me and told me I would soon be back here. I believed her.'


And what did he do for her in return?

'Mom made me clean the house,' he said. 'I think I did a good job, and it kept me busy.'

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