Rich's Rant: Let Him Sit

Rich Passan isn't enthused by Ross Verba's recent requests for "elite" left tackle payment. All is not lost, however. The long-time Cleveland sportswriter and talk show host has a simple solution for Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel...

So Ross Verba feels betrayed by the Cleveland Browns.

Why else would the Browns' offensive left tackle make some of the most ridiculous demands and outrageous statements in recent memory?

The big guy from Iowa, sounding like a petulant little kid, has already boycotted passing camp and says be will skip minicamp and training camp until the Browns redo his contract, which has two years remaining.

Or else . . . he will sit. And sit. And sit.

Hey Phil, Romeo . . . let him sit.

Please pass him the crying towel.

The Browns, or rather their previous front-office dictatorship, promised Verba they would take care of him after he restructured his contract before last season. The move was cap-friendly, but did not factor in the fall of that dictatorship midway through the season.

So the new guys come in, claim they promised nothing and life moves on.

Verba, who said he played for nothing last season (well, actually it was for a measly $535,000), said he wants to be paid like the top left tackles of the National Football League. Go ahead, pay me $535,000. Make me suffer.

Verba actually believes he is among the elite at his position in the NFL and has issued a $30 million demand. That's not posturing. That's brazen arrogance.

When did this guy become a comedy writer?

He's getting bad advice from someone.

A couple of seasons ago, Verba tore the biceps tendon in his right arm in an exhibition and sat out the entire season. Collected his entire salary that season. Didn't hear him complain then.

Seems as though he wants it both ways.

The Browns have some options regarding this little flare-up. They can release Verba, trade him or let him sit. The first two options are tempting, but that most likely won't happen.

Then again, someone like Kirk Chambers can step up and take advantage of the situation. The second-year man from Stanford is a natural left tackle. Why not give him a shot? The Browns have nothing to lose.

So it seems only proper and fitting to let Verba sit and fine his butt every day he misses camp with no recourse to recoup the lost money. You sign a contract, you should honor it.

He is due $7.2 million to play a game for the two seasons remaining on his contract. Not good enough, says Verba, whose over-inflated opinion of himself must have offensive line coaches in the NFL guffawing uncontrollably.

As far as the betrayal label is concerned, maybe Verba should look in a mirror and see that he's part of a team that has betrayed its fans. This team has been nothing short of disappointing since returning to represent Cleveland in 1999.

Perhaps Verba should brush up on his Browns history, concentrating on those who preceded him at his position.

In the annals of Cleveland Browns football, offensive left tackle has been a special position. Until now.

From their inception in 1946 to 1984, only three men played the position for the Browns. Thirty-nine seasons, three men.

From the great Lou Groza to Dick Schafrath to Doug Dieken, the Browns did not have to worry about the position for long stretches at a time. Plug them in, leave them alone and enjoy the superb nature in which they plied their craft.

Offensive left tackle was a position of longevity, pride and excellence.

Groza replaced Jim Daniell early in the 1946 season and became a staple there until Schafrath took over in 1960. He gave way in 1972 to Dieken, who played until 1984.

When Dieken retired after the 1984 season, Paul Farren stepped in and became a staple for six more seasons. Tony Jones took over in 1991 and gave the Browns five solid seasons before you know who transplanted the team to you know where. Five men in 50 seasons.

The position had become special in a sport where journeyman status makes stability almost impossible. Especially these days when free agency can wreck a championship team in quick order.

So of all the positions on the Browns, why did offensive left tackle have to be the position of Ross Verba?

He's not that special. Despite what he thinks.

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