Thursday, January 12, 2012

Where are the Browns? The NeverEnding Saga that is Cleveland's Favorite Football Team

November 6, 1995. A dark day in Cleveland history, the former owner of the Cleveland Browns, Art Modell, announced he was moving the team out of Cleveland and had signed a deal with the city Baltimore. To not have football in Cleveland was unthinkable for such a loyal fan base in Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere. However, the city of Cleveland would make a deal with the NFL that they be allowed to keep the Cleveland Browns legacy (meaning the team name, colors, records, etc.) be kept in the city of Cleveland, the NFL approved the deal. In February of 1996, the NFL announced the Browns would have three years of “Suspended Operations”, returning to the NFL in 1999. For those three long years, what would Browns fans all over do on Sunday afternoons (watch another NFL team, spend time with their families, do work around the house, watch John Elway win two Super Bowl Rings L)? I know for one fan, my father, he enjoyed spending those Sunday afternoons watching his son (Me) play Youth football. I’ve often wondered sometimes, where the Browns would be, if Art Modell would have never moved the team and they didn’t have those three years of “Suspended Operations”.

December 4, 1995, what a jerk off...
 The Browns and the city of Cleveland finally made their return to the NFL in 1999. With Al Lerner (RIP) assuming ownership of the franchise, he would bring in Carmen Policy (president and CEO) and Dwight Clark (GM), both of whom enjoyed success with the 49ers organization, to run the Browns front office. The Browns which were put back together with the help of the 1999 NFL Expansion Draft and the 1999 NFL Draft, in which they were granted the #1 overall pick. The Browns hired former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Chris Palmer to become their Head Coach and used the #1 overall pick to land Tim Couch, QB from the University of Kentucky (could of had Donovan McNabb!). The 1999 season, brought high hopes and excitement back to the city of Cleveland, but with the season opener (Sept. 12, 1999) vs. archrival and hated (and when I say hated that’s being viewer-friendly) Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sunday Night Football (National Television), the Browns would lose that game 43 to 0. The Browns finished that inaugural season with a record of 2-14. Since their return in 1999, the Browns have a record of 68 wins and 140 losses (.327 winning %), 1 playoff appearance (2002 season), 2 winning seasons (2002, 2007), 6 Head Coaches, 16 starting QB’s and a number of bust for draft picks. With all of that said, this question has recently popped into my head. “Was it really worth it?”

Did he really have a chance?  Wildcat sissy
Let me first talk about the carousel of Head Coaches we have had the privilege of having. First came Chris Palmer (5-27, record), then came Butch Davis, who is the only coach to lead the Browns to the playoffs since their return, but left the team after 11 games during the 2004 season (24-34, record). Interim coach Terry Robiskie took over and the Browns won 1 of 5 games that he coached. The following season (2005) the Browns with new GM Phil Savage hired a highly profiled coach from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, Romeo Crennel (24-40, record). Ironically, under Coach Crennel, the Browns did have their best record, in the 2007 season (10-6) since returning to the NFL, but missed the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with the Tennessee Titans (curse you Tony Dungy!). After Savage and Crennel were both fired after a disappointing 2008 season (4-12), the Browns hired Eric Mangini (10-22, record), but after back-to-back 5-11 seasons, he was let go.

Every Browns fan should own one of these. CLASSIC
1 o'clock cheers, 4 o' clock tears HAHAHA
Which brings me to the current status of the Cleveland Browns. Under first year Head Coach Pat Shurmur (this guy just screams “not the guy”), the Browns again had another lackluster season finishing 4-12. There are so many issues with this team right now. Even if the Browns had the 1st 5 picks of the upcoming NFL draft, it would still not be enough to fill the holes that this team has. With needs at basically every position, how many more drafts and/or free agency is it going to take to get the number (and right) of players to become successful? Is Colt McCoy the franchise QB, doesn’t look that way, but with the offensive line that he had this past season any QB would struggle. Our best option in the backfield is 253 lbs. Peyton Hillis, and after a disappointing 2011 season (missed 6 games due to injury) is probably headed out of Cleveland here soon. His back-up Montario Hardesty, can’t step onto the field without hurting himself. The WR’s this team has, if I were a opposing defensive coordinator would not strike fear into me, that you would be fine just covering them one-on-one. The offensive line (minus LT Joe Thomas) stinks, especially the right-side (what a joke). The West Coast offense that Shurmur installed is terrible (yeah, its 3rd and 8, lets run a 3 yard out-route). As an offense, this team just can’t move the ball down the field consistently (or at all). You use your “best” playmaker in Mr. Do Everything Joshua Cribbs the wrong way (he’s not a receiver, put him in the backfield). I mean when your best player is your veteran (and the only guy left from the 1999 season) placekicker Phil Dawson, kicking 50-yard FG’s, its frustrating as a fan to watch this offense.
This should have been the cover of Madden 12, swallow a knife Peyton!
 On the other side, the defense did show some life AT TIMES, during this past season, but when your offense isn’t generating any scoring, you can only do so much. The front-four look to be around for a while, with two of them being rookies this past season (DT Phil Taylor and DE Jabaal Sheard). The linebackers are aging and never seem to be able to get to the QB in time before he releases the ball and tend to drop back into coverage more often then not (BRING PRESSURE!). The DB’s like to celebrate more (you know what I’m talking about Haden and Patterson) then covering the WR’s (I love a wide-open receiver with 4 or 5 white jerseys within 3 or 4 yards of him, great defensive coverage). Every year it seems recently, we as Browns fans look back at a particular season and go “gosh, if we would have only done this, in that game or that game we could have had 2 or 3 more wins”. On the other hand, I find myself asking a similar question, “How did we win that one”. I guess, what I am trying to say is, after watching the 49ers and Lions (previous doormats in recent NFL seasons), turn things around in such a short time this season (two playoff teams), when are the Browns going to have similar success?
The sad part here is this guy is at a preseason game, going to be a  LONNNGGGG season
Which brings me back to my original question, “Was it really worth it?” I don’t know what it would be like without the Browns around, I know I would still (and do) be following/rooting for the Arizona Cardinals (my 2nd favorite team), but the one thing I would really miss, is that one Sunday a year, when the boys (My Dad, two brothers, and myself) head up to Cleveland Browns Stadium to watch the Browns play. We’ve seen some wins and loses (a bunch), but it’s that bond between father and sons, that is the most important thing. I know its rough being a Browns fan, (especially on my Dad, #1 Browns fan of all-time, hands down), but I guess what keeps us coming back is that age-old saying; “There’s always next year”.

And to make all you Clevelanders out there happy, at least we can all enjoy the theme song for the great Drew Carey Show...timeless