December 23, 2004

Saga of the Cleveland Browns



I recently attended a talk of Terry Pluto...leading sports journalist in the US and the probably the best sports writer in the North-East Ohio area. I used to read his articles in the Akron Beacon Journal (when I used to subscribe it, I dont anymore....newspaper is a luxury in student life...hehehe). He, like most of us, is an ardent fan of the Cleveland Sports teams and is very disappointed with the unsuccessful sporting history of the teams....Cleveland Indians havent won a world series since 1954, Cleveland Cavaliers havent even reached the NBA finals ever (for most of the people who dont know much abt Cavs....its the team Lebron James plays for) and the Cleveland Browns havent won anything in the past 25 years....so basically all the sports fans in Cleveland are longing for some kind of Success of these teams and the closest or the only glimmer of hope is the impressive run of the Cavs so far this season and I atleast hope that it transforms into a Playoff Season!!!!

Cleveland is probably one of the few cities with teams in all the Professional Sports....NBA,MLB and NFL...and it has got a tremendous fan support and sporting history. The Cleveland fans are considered to be the most enthusiastic crowd (as there are only a few things to cheer for these days) and its sad to see that these wonderful fans are disappointed day-in and day-out by the lacklustre performance of the sports teams.

Terry pluto has written books on the Browns, Cavs and the Indians but his favorite topic is the Browns (who doesnt like football???). He talked abt his new book False Start ...that was based on the bad choices made by the NFL when Art Modell left Cleveland with his team to become the Baltimore Ravens!!!!!!

I learned a lot of things abt the transactions that took place in that period between 1995-99...and how the Cleveland Fans got shafted...by the then owner of the Cleveland Browns ..Art modell....demanded a new stadium for the Browns with the City money and since the City of Cleveland rejected the idea he was pissed and left with his team to Baltimore which built a new stadium for him.....so much for the fans feelings!!!!!!

Terry mentioned that the NFL didnt take any actions against Art for leaving the city on the contrary they proposed to set up a new team in Cleveland as they knew that the fans in Cleveland are so crazy that they will pay to watch anyone play!!!!! so the whole point here was for the NFL to make the most out of the oppurtunity to make (more) money. The price that the currrent owner of the Browns paid was abt $550 million when the rate for taking over any franchise was between $300 - $350 million ....the LA Dodgers were then sold for abt $325 million and everyone expected the Browns take over to be abt the same price.....but the NFL increased the franchise take over cost and in a way ensured that the next person to buy a team (which happens to be Texans) will have to atleast pay that amount....this was a smart move by the NFL to make more money.

Usually, when a team moves out of a city, the city is up for grabs for other teams to move in within 900 days but when Modell moved his team out the NFL let abt 1500 days pass by before letting another team come to cleveland....this way the owners of the other teams could blackmail their respective cities to build new stadiums....as they could say ""Build a new stadium or we will move to Cleveland!!!!".....to support this argument there were atleast 5 new stadiums that were built or were agreed upon in that period of 5 yrs.

A new franchise is usually given abt 3 yrs (Texans were given that period)....to prepare for the opening season....but the Browns were given only 11 months!!!!!! that too with countless restrictions.....the head Coach Palmer was asked to hire the personel for the team but the restrictions from the NFL were:

U cannot approach an Asst Coach of another NFL team
U cannnot hire anyone that is on the roster of another team
U cannot sign any player that is currently signed with another team

now with these restrictions even the best possible coach like Parcels would have found it difficult to put a team together....so Cleveland Browns were put together by gathering Coaching Staff that was either fired by other teams or from the College level....the players were drafted from the Expansion Draft where in the teams will leave the extra baggage (dispensible players) and Browns picked them up....now with that kind of coaching staff and players I dont think its fair for any one to have high expectations from the team.....there was nobody in the Club house with any experience of putting a team together. can u imagine what a fair draft or hiring process or preparation time would have done to the browns team???? it could have been a play-off contender by now!!!!!!!!!!

As expected the Browns were annilated by the teams and we fell to abt 2-14 and Palmer was fired....in comes the hotshot coach from the University of Miami....Butch Davis...but seeing the plight of the browns he had insisted on being the incharge of the hiring and draft in short he was Coach/GM.....his first season here he did wonders by leading the Browns into the playoffs as he was still Coach Davis but the last couple of years the Coach in him was over shadowed by the GM Davis and his team fell apart...as a result we finished 5-11 last year from 9-7 record of the previous season......and this year were are on our way to finish 3-13.....now tell me what kind of expectations should the Browns (Cleveland) fans have from their teams????

The Indians tooo are falling apart with the last survivor from the 90's team....Vizquel....being traded....there ended the golden era (partially)...we atleast reached the World Series.....of the Indians and we are rebuilding again!!!!!!

Cavs are the only bright feather in the current Cleveland teams thanx to our local boy/hero....Lebron James....it has been a treat to watch him on TV....i have been following this kid for the past 4 yrs since he was a Sophmore in HighSchool....he was a Phenom...Pluto had been wirting abt him since and I have seen this kid grow from a Highschool star into a NBA Phenom....he is a great guy....unlike the other younger people in the NBA...he is level headed and knows to move with the right crowd and not take part in a crappy rap song full of gangsters (u cant claim u were innocent Anthony!!!)....

well all in all...being an ardent and die-hard sports fan of the Cleveland teams I hope there is a turnaround in the fortunes of our team!!!!!!!!

1 comment:

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