Central To Success

September 4, 2006

Center of Disaster    

     After a weekend where I think all but 3 players on the Browns current roster were either cut, dropped, signed, re-signed, released, signed to the practice squad, placed on IR, placed on the PUP list, waived-injured, had their contracts terminated, or sent to NFL Europe one position is still undergoing changes–and of course it’s the Center.

     If you think the Browns have it bad, you have no idea.  Take a look at the flip side of the Center situation where the Steelers have started (except for a few games) just 3 Centers since 1974!  The Browns have had 3 starting Centers in the last 3 weeks!  Granted, pre-season games don’t count in the Steelers stat, but it’s still amazing that they have only had 3 regular centers in 32 years, and the Browns have had about 4 in the past month. 

     The situation at Center is really a microchosm of the two teams’ entire franchises.  On one hand you have the Steelers–reliable, winning, 6 Super Bowl appearances, Really Ugly Women.  Ok, so the last one I just threw in there.  But, contrast that with the Browns Center situation and it’s very indicative of their franchise as a whole–in disarray, no continuity, moving around a bit, having no direction.  It’s funny how one position can really represent an entire franchise, but in the case of these two it’s dead on.  Just for the record, here is the history of the Steeler’s starting Center’s of the past 32 years, and the Brown’s Centers of the past 32 days.

Steelers:

1974-1988:  Mike Webster.  That’s it.  Guy wins 4 Super Bowls and is in the Hall of Fame. 

1988-2000:  Dermontti Dawson.  12 years, 1 guy.  I guess it is 2 less than Webster, though.  He went to 7 straight Pro Bowls, and will probably end up in Canton as well.

2001-Present:  Jeff Hartings.  Pro Bowler, has started for 5 straight years.  Pretty Solid.

Now the Browns of the past 32 Days:

1. LeCharles Bentley.  Hometown heroe goes down for the season on the second day of practice.

2. Bob Hallen.  Retires two days after seeing what happened to Bentley.  I mean, he just up and retired.

3. Rob Smith.  Was originally the third stringer, but was hurt for most of training camp.  Is now on the Practice Squad.

4.  Alonzo Ephraim.  Was signed because the first 3 guys went down.  Then the Browns found out he still had to serve a four-game suspension from when he was with the Dolphins.

5.  Todd Washington.  Little known guy.  He signed with the Browns and pulled a Bob Hallen a few days later.

6.  Ross Tucker.  Signed in early August and looked to be the starter for a while.  He’s since been released.

7.  Mike Mabry.  He was signed and released somewhere in all of this. 

8.  Lennie Friedman.  Signed later to compete with Tucker, now looks to be the back-up.

9.  Hank Fraley.  Signed over the weekend after losing a position battle in Philly.  He’s actually a solid Center, so all isn’t lost here, but it only took the Browns 9 attempts to get a starting Center.

     Now, for the record, I will say that the Browns have officially only had 4 startingCenters in the past 32 days but I don’t think that matters very much at this point.  What does matter is that football season is only 2 days away, and Ben Roethlisberger will be sitting out the NFL opener because his appendix burst!

And also for the record, that will be the last positive post I will ever write that involves the Steelers.

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