In last week’s column I asked you why this continues to be a ‘Browns
Town’, considering the general lack of success, and three years of hiatus, since
1990. I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of responses, and almost
everyone made a good case for themselves. One, however, somehow decided I was
too negative with that question, and I should resign from any forum that I have
to discuss Cleveland sports. But that aside, there was a common theme throughout
most of the responses.
Even though the Browns have not been very successful throughout those
years, the great success of the early years of the franchise, leading to the
Bernie Kosar-led teams of the 1980’s, continues to keep people coming back for
more. Unlike many other cities, mostly in the warm-weather part of the country,
Cleveland people don’t seem to migrate to other places. And when they do, they
take their teams with them.
The common thread is that parents and grandparents
pass the torch to the younger generations, based on their own experiences.
There is probably a way to check this, but I would guess that most season ticket
holders, even since the re-birth of the team, have had those tickets longer than
those of most other cities, excluding the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.
Even those under 30 years of age cited the legends of Paul Brown, Marion Motley, Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli and Jim Brown as reasons for their passionate
interest in the team.
Unfortunately, it will be a long time before other players or coaches
will join that list. When you consider that Jamir Miller is the only player to
make the Pro Bowl in the six years of the new franchise, and the only current
player on the roster to make it, Robert Griffith, did it with Minnesota in
Going back further, unless Clay Matthews somehow gets some support, it
doesn’t look like anyone who played here since 1989 will make the Hall of Fame
in Canton based on his performance in Cleveland (obviously Ozzie Newsome is the
exception). The newest generation of Browns fans will continue to be
passionate, but unless some successes are achieved on the field soon, it might
be tough for their children to carry it on.
While the Browns offensive line has received a lot of criticism for
their play on the field, there should be some concern for events that have taken
place off the field.
Allegations have been made about some activities that have
taken place at the home of lineman Ross Verba, although he claims he wasn’t
present at the time these things took place. And Ryan Tucker made an
insensitive remark on a radio show. He was given the opportunity to apologize
at the time, but didn’t do it until later. According to a Browns spokesman, the
comment referred to ‘Hitler having an easier time getting people to take a tour
of Auschwitz’ than he had in getting players to join him on the show. With a
little sensitivity training, Tucker might learn that, while he wears number 72
on his sleeve, millions of people had more numbers than that tattooed onto their
Despite the problems of the offensive line in recent years, Verba and
Tucker, have not been the real problems. In fact, both had pretty good years in
2004. But perhaps not good enough to overcome their off-the-field problems.
I’ve never seen anyone enjoy a victory as much as Terry Robiskie did on
Sunday. And he deserved it.
I believe he is the only coach in NFL history to
have the tag ‘interim’ twice during his career. A huge chain of events would
have to occur for him to shed that tag this time, but here’s hoping the Browns
find some place in the organization for him.
He is a good guy, and most of the
players like and respect him, although that doesn’t necessarily qualify him to
lead the new front office into the future. The bottom line is that he did as
good a job as possible under trying circumstances---tough opponents; Luke McCown; a divided locker room, etc. But it probably won’t be good enough to
keep him as permanent head coach.
‘More Sports & Les Levine’ can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11pm-midnight on
Adelphia Channel 15. E-mail
email@example.com or www.leslevine.com