The Browns Have a Slight Lack of Scoring

August 16, 2009

The Cleveland Browns have not scored an offensive touchdown in 7 games.  That’s 28 quarters.  Brown pants, white pants, no pants–it really doesn’t matter what they are wearing, who the QB is, who is coaching, or where the game takes place.  They simply can’t find the end zone.

It couldn’t have been a worse 2009 debut for a club who is struggling to sell tickets to next week’s pre-season home opener against the Lions.  Next saturday we may see the first blackout of any game since the team came back 10 years ago, and those 4 games in December and January are looking perilous as well.

Certainly one could say that it was just a pre-season game, and it’s true that the reaction would be unbearable had this been the actual opener.  But it certainly doesn’t bode well for a franchise operating in a recession that has yielded little on the field in the 10 seasons since their return to football.  I would say that next week couldn’t be any worse, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve thought that and been wrong–it is Cleveland.


Of Brady Quinn, Brown Pants, a Big Dawg DUI, and Stolen Signals

August 13, 2009
Quinnbrow pants

Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer

It’s been an interesting week for the Browns, and they haven’t even played a single pre-season game yet. 

They had a practice on Sunday in which half of the team practiced in the hideous brown pants look that they donned last year for the Giants debacle.  This is a disturbing trend.  Their uni’s are so simple, yet it seems that every regime that comes to Cleveland wants to find some way to tweak them so that they are just off a little.  You had the Butch Davis era which featured orange pants, and the occasional orange jersey (yuk).  Under Romeo and Phil they reverted to a more ‘classic’ look with the grey   and black shoes, but the brown pants look that allegedly Mangini is a fan of is just wrong.

Speaking of Mangini, he seemed to quell the rumors that Brady stole hand signals from Derek and tipped off the opposing D.  Of course this sparked a debate anyway between the DA and BQ supports that went something like this:  Quinn guy:  WOW!  Brady is so competitive he’ll do whatever it takes to win even in a pre-season game!!! (although his team did lose).  DA fan:  Obviously Quinn knows he is behind in the QB derby so he has to resort to cheating.  All of this is great stuff for online forums and sports talk shows, but it’s the type of babble that shows there’s nothing better to talk about during the pre-season.

But perhaps the most disheartening story was of course the news that our very own Big Dawg got busted for a DUI earlier this week.  My first question was ‘did he at least wear the dawg mask for the mug shot?’  I’ don’t know Big Dawg but every time I’ve met him he’s seemed unusually nice, and not at all bothered by the his local celebrity.  I’ve seen him stand for an hour or more before games to take photos with fans, and never seen him turn someone away.  But DUI is certainly a serious matter, it’s just unfortunate that such a visible member of the dawg pound put himself in that situation (which made me wonder how many of the ‘regular’ dawg pounders have DUI’s under their belts, yikes). 

Anyway, this is the type of stuff you talk about when there is no actual football being played.  Well that, and this:

http://wnst.net/wordpress/section/audio/  (Scroll down to the “Burning River” clip)


The Burning River on WNST Today at 4:30

August 11, 2009

You can hear me on WNST in Baltimore today at 4:30 to discuss the Art Modell HOF candidacy question today at 4:30.  I believe you can listen live at WNST.net.

UPDATE:  Thanks to Nestor for a civilized conversation about Art Modell today.  I don’t either of us are changing our minds anytime soon, but it doesn’t hurt to hear both sides.


Rod Woodson Simultaneously Enters Halls of Fame,Shame

August 10, 2009

rodSomewhat lost in the shuffle of Rod Woodson’s ridiculously long (seriously–who didn’t he thank?) induction speech yesterday was his stumping for Art Modell’s candidacy to get into the HOF.  Here is the full quote: 

“Without Art Modell, old school owner. And I hope the voters get this right — by putting Art Modell in the Hall of Fame, he belongs there. (Some mixed boos).  You can boo him because you disagree with him moving them but you can’t disagree with he did as an owner.”

Even as Modell’s chances of getting into the HOF wane, I find it remarkable that there is still a contingent that feel that he deserves a nod.   But Rod is certainly right about one thing–you can’t disagree with what he did as an owner.  So, I would like to ask the obvious question;  what exactly did he do as an owner to deserve getting elected to the Hall of Fame in the first place?

     I really can find very few compelling arguments that highlight what he did as an owner that deserve enshrinement.  The usual arguments are usually loosely constructed, and go something along the lines of “first monday night game, part of the first Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and was on a committee that negotiated TV deals during the NFL expansion.”  His proponents (more about them later) make it seem as though he was a shoe-in if it weren’t for the fact that he moved the Browns.  So really what part of what he accomplished on it’s own is HOF worthy? 

     The guy didn’t invent MNF, he just volunteered the Browns to host the first game (and he did so under the stipulation that they played the Jets to ensure they would get  the large NY TV market).  If it wasn’t the Browns, it would have been another team. 

     The collective bargaining thing perplexes me a bit, because wasn’t that really a coup for the players and not the league?  What business owner has ever trumpeted the fact that his workers just unionized?  The slice of the pie that the owners get has steadily decreased thanks in large part to the players collectively bargaining through their union.  Somehow I find this “accomplishment” routinely and carelessly referenced in the case for Modell but it’s unclear exactly what his contribution was, or why this is even considered at positive at all. 

     Perhaps his greatest contributions were helping the negotiations for the NFL’s increasingly lucrative TV contracts.  Obviously this was huge for the NFL, but does negotiating contracts really merit getting into the Pro Football HOF?  The NFL was growing in popularity, and certainly their viewership became more attractive to tv networks, so it kind of stands to reason that those contracts would have soared anyway doesn’t it? 

     Even if he really fleeced the networks and got the NFL big money, it doesn’t seem like they have any problems hauling in huge TV dollars now without him.  Do we even know the guy’s name who negotiates those contracts now?  Shouldn’t we be looking it up now so we can consider him for the HOF in the future?

     When I was doing some research for this  post I noticed that a vast majority of the articles supporting him for the hall came from Baltimore area writers.  Indeed if you google keywords together such as “Art Modell Hall of Fame” you will mostly get a bunch of articles the Baltimore Sun has written over the years, and several Baltimore area media types opining on why he should get in.   Here, the arguments get even stranger and weaker.  Here are some of the best:

1)  Al Davis moved his team twice, and he’s in the hall.  True, but he did a hell of a lot more in his career than Art did.  He was a coach, GM, Owner, and even Commissioner of the AFL.  He was even named the AFL Coach of the Year when turned the Raiders from a doormat into a winning team in a short period.

2)  Art Modell isn’t in because of the HOF’s proximity to Cleveland.  Really?  so when the 40-odd voters are sitting weighing the merits of Modell’s career, they really consider the possibility that there might be people in Ohio upset about his induction?  So the writer from Arizona, or Seattle, or Miami really considers this when making their vote?

3)  Unlike when Robert Irsay moved the Colts (which should really be enough for someone in Baltimore to understand why Modell shouldn’t be in) Art Modell was classy enough to let the Browns keep their name and colors in Cleveland.  This one is just patently false, and it gets thrown around all the time.  The fact is, Art agreed to do this in deal made between him, the NFL, and the city of Cleveland in order to, among other things, avoid a lawsuit that was filed by the City of Cleveland to stop the move of the Browns.  Art himself makes claims that he ‘allowed’ this to happen, but the reality is that it was something that he gave up in order to move the team free and clear without further wrangling.

4)  You can’t write the story of the NFL, and not include Art Modell.  I see this one everywhere, and it is my favorite.  Many people use this as some sort of litmus test for HOF worthiness, but it proves nothing.   In reality this might be true (and in this case I would say it is a stretch), but even so what does that mean?  You couldn’t write the story of the NFL without mentioning Scott Norwood’s famous missed FG in Super Bowl XXV, but that doesn’t mean he’s making the hall of fame.

      I could go on and on and list the weak arguments that I have found out there by seemingly reputable sources.  But, the bottom line is that the voting commitee, which is made up of a writer from every NFL city plus a handful of ‘at-large’ voters, has shown decreasing interest in putting Art into the hall and the reasons are clear.  The Browns were the premier franchise in the NFL when Art Modell bought the team in 1961 (3 NFL Titles in the 50’s, and just 1 in the 34 years he owned the team), so it’s not as if he rescued a struggling franchised and lead it to the promised land on his back.  The one championship he did win was with the team that Paul Brown had assembled anyway. 

     He may have been an great business man for the NFL, but if that’s the case how come he had such a hard time making money himself in the NFL?  It was many of his own decisions (like taking control of Stadium Corp.) that lead to his poor financial position in a league where most of the owners were flush with cash.

      The bottom line is that Rod Woodson is very deserved of his induction to Pro Football’s HOF, but he should have kept his comments about Modell to himself.  In fact, i’ve spent the better part of 1000 words outlining why his so-called accomplishments don’t make him HOF worthy without even bringing up the main reason why people don’t vote him in–the move.  And I know that there will no doubt be a sentiment that the crowd was ‘classless’ because they booed Rod when he made those comments.  But let’s be honest, if the ceremony were held in Columbia, MD and Bruce Smith said that he thought Robert Irsay should be in the hall don’t you think there would be a chorus of boos?  Of course there would.    But it’s even more classless of a guy to bring up Art Modell in a region where he is public enemy #1 in a speech that was supposed to be about his own career, and was already twice as long as anyone else’s that night.


The Lesser of Two Evils

January 15, 2009

In yet another twist in the NFL’s ongoing mission to make Cleveland fans miserable, we will now be forced to watch a Super Bowl with either the Ravens or the Steelers for the 3rd time this decade.  In an ‘icing on the cake’ style move, one of these team will inevitbly win the Super Bowl which will wrap up an NFL season that saw our Browns win 4 games, not score a TD in their final 6, lose 4 times to the afformentioned rivals, and have their GM and Coach get canned.  So the questions obviously is, which team do you want to win in the AFC Championship game?

A disclaimer; I will in no way be cheering, rooting, or otherwise supporting either team this Sunday.  No, in a game that features the two teams that we hate the most playing each other for the rights to go to the Super Bowl, the only acceptable behavior is to hope for injuries, embarrassment, heartbreak, or some other form of debacle to to occur during the game, the outcome of which will significantly which impair the winner’s chances of hoisting the Lombardi trophy.

And let’s be honest, any casual observer should be able to see that neither team deserves another championship.  The alledgedly ‘great’ Steelers fans haven’t had to see a period of extended losing for over 40 years.  Seriously, they could go 20 years without a  winning season and I would still consider them spoiled.  Even when they do win championships they always do it with Ohio guys featured prominently in the win (Knoll, Roethlisberger, Lambert).  This time around is no different with their best player on both offense and defense being from Ohio and attending Ohio colleges.

The case against the Ravens is a little shorter.  They stole their team from us 13 years ago and in no way should be rewarded by getting a second Super Bowl win with our former team while the fans from Cleveland who are still the only ones to successfully fight a franchise move get ‘rewarded’ with a decade of mediocre football.

Seriously, I don’t think anyone could write a script where a city continues to get slapped in the face by one twist of the knife after another like Cleveland has and still keep it believeable.  It’s not enough to get our team back, only to watch a decade of terrible football, but then to have our rivals continually in the championship mix (with players/coaches/ties back to Ohio) is about enough at this point.

Ultimately, if you are a Browns fan, you have to have a preference for one of these teams to win though.  I mean, one of them will probably win the whole thing given the barely above .500 teams the NFC is producing this year.  So after much thought, i’ve decided that I would rather have the Ravens win on Sunday.  I know it’s essentially our team out there (and look, Matt Stover is still alive) that was stolen from us and transplanted, but for some reason I think I could stomach another Ravens championship more than watching another Steelers Super Bowl win and hearing about what ‘great fans’ they have–like it’s really hard to root for a team that has won 5 rings and is an annual playoff participant (which is a topic for another post, but I wll admit the Steelers have good fans when they go through 3-4 losing seasons and they are still showing up at road games.  Until then I will only admit that they are ugly) (Ed. note:  relatives/in-laws excluded).

Either way, it’s not going to be a fun Super Bowl for Clevelanders–barring a surprise win by the NFC.  And just like the stock market, we’ll be left wondering if we’ve finally hit bottom–something I’ve been wondering for about 10 years now.  I know it’s a lot to ask, but not having the worst possible ending occur would be a little solace to Browns fans.  Still, come September the fans will be be at the Muni-lot at 6am ready for another season that we’ll be certain will be the one that  reverses our luck–just like the past 48 years and counting.


Ask and You Shall Receive

November 4, 2008

brady-quinnWell the chants were certainly defeaning Sunday, and just one day later Browns fans get their wish.  Ignoring the fact that the timing makes no sense on a short week, it will be interesting to see what happens from here.  What do they do if Quinn isn’t great right off the bat?  The argument that I heard from so many Quinn supporters early in the year was that Quinn gave the Browns the best chance to win right away, so now is time to see if that is the case.

I realize that my last post was pro-Anderson, but I could care less who the QB is if we win our last 8 games.  The problem is that is unlikely to happen, and i’m afraid to see what will come of the team if Quinn doesn’t play up to the high expectations that the fans have for him, and i’m concerned that we will once again be dissapointed when the guy we want to succeed doesn’t.  Either way, with their playoff chances very remote, the Browns just found a way to make Thursday’s game interesting.


Don’t Blame Anderson

November 3, 2008

I realize that at 3-5 this might be an entirely moot point–but I can’t help noticing everyone is once again piling on Anderson and blaming him squarely for yesterday’s debacle and the season overall.  But let’s be honest, DA didn’t play a bad game yesterday, and if you want to start a blame pecking order for blowing a 27-13 lead to a rookie QB on the road Anderson doesn’t rank in the top 3.

The way I see it:

1)  The Defense:  For giving back the 14-point cushing in a matter of minutes…to a rookie QB…on the road.  On top of that, 191 yards rushing for the day.

2) Edwards:  After rewatching the game, that was probably his biggest drop in a year of big drops for Braylon.  4th quarter, game tied, 3rd and long, and picture perfect bomb goes right threw his hands.  Instead of punting away and letting the Ravens march right down the field again the Browns would have had the ball in scoring position.  Absolutely huge, especially with Stallworth out again and Edwards needing to show that he can step-up when needed.

3) The Running Game:  19 carries for 49 yards for a robust 2.6 YPC.

 

When you add up the horrid running game, the defense playing the role of a turnstile in the 2nd half, and Edwards throwing away the opportunities that are thrown his way it’s tough to call out Anderson for losing the game yesterday.

In the end, we’re gonna see Brady soon enough since we’re sitting on another non-playoff season so why continue to pile on Anderson and chant for Brady.  It’s like deja vu after watching the fan base chant for  ‘Kelly’, and ‘Charlie’ and then insist that we have a backup who is going to be the next Bernie Kosar.