Goodell’s Key’s To the Game: Survive and Advance

First, let me say this; I don’t support, condone, whatever domestic violence. People in families get into arguments all the time, but spitting and punching each other isn’t the way to solve it. All of us gotten into some type of disagreement with others in our house at some point, and handling it is always a question of contention among many people.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been under serious pressure since the video of the Ray Rice incident became public Monday. Since that time, the Associated Press discovered that the video had indeed been delivered to NFL offices. Many assume that Goodell has seen the video, and some are giving him the benefit of the doubt. The truth is, none of us really know if he’s seen the video. Goodell has made it well known that he hasn’t seen the video. I’m not sure if you believe him, but I do.

Many of you, which means most, have decided that Roger Goodell needs to resign. I don’t believe that’s necessary. I think Goodell has enough goodwill built up with his bosses, who are the owners, and their sponsors to where he can survive this public relations disaster.

Goodell, Rice, and the Baltimore Ravens front office likely operated under the assumption the video would never leak. Had this been two or three years ago, that probably would have been a smart bet. In 2014, when TMZ is the new Deadspin, it wasn’t a smart bet.

Today is Thursday. The NFL, thankfully, has a game tonight. Except tonight's game features the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t expect to see Goodell in Baltimore or anywhere else for the next few weeks, but if he can survive this storm through Sunday, he’ll be able to advance to next week.

Survive and advance

That term doesn’t only apply to March Madness, but applies to corporate leadership as well. Many have said and tweeted that Goodell needs to lead, and not consult with public relations people before making decision. The reality is, consulting with people is exactly what ALL leaders do. They take advice from many of their trusted advisors, take a look at the tea leaves and make decisions. Sometimes those decisions aren’t right. In retrospect, Goodell should have suspended Ray Rice for more than two games, but if he really hadn’t seen the video, what could he have gone on?

The Ravens and the league spoke with Rice, and based on everything we know, Rice was very detailed in his explanation for what happened. So detailed, in fact, that the Ravens admit that what he said is almost exactly what we saw on the video tape.

So, why the outrage?

The outrage is simple, people don’t get nearly as upset about things they don't see. When Rice and his then-fiance had a presser months ago, the domestic violent people – correctly, I might add – suggested that she was protecting Rice. The rest of us thought maybe it wasn’t as bad as we heard it was. Then we saw the tape, and everything changed.

So, if you were in Goodell’s place what would you have done? Is two games enough of a suspension? Probably not. Is a lifetime banishment the way to go, of course not. Men and women are involved in domestic situations every day in this country. If each of those people were fired from their jobs and told they could never work again, where would this country be?

So again, I ask, what would you do if you were Goodell?

Does Roger Need To Go?

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Roger Goodell will no doubt be reprimanded for his poor decision by his corporate overlords, just like the rest of us are when we make mistakes. That punishment, to the detriment of the public, won’t be publicized, but if it’s taking part of his $35 million dollar salary, or reducing the use of the league jet, or making him drive himself around, don’t think he won’t be punished. Do you really thing termination is the solution for all missteps by leaders? I certainly don’t.

If Goodell is removed and you insert someone else, how do you know they wouldn’t have made a worse decision? Who’s a good replacement for Goodell? Condoleeza Rice? Based on what? Many say she helped take America into a war based on terrible intelligence, and now you want her to replace a guy who forgot to hit the play button on his in-office VCR?

Oh. OK.

The solution to this problem isn’t easy, but I know this, no matter if Goodell stays or goes, the overwhelming majority of you will be watching on Sunday. Your football Sundays are the most important 16 days of your lives. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as long as Goodell survives until Sunday, I expect he’ll advance through this crisis and move on to the next one.

What do you think? Should Roger Goodell resign? If so, who's a great replacement? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at damien@morethanafan.net.

Photos: Flickr

On The Cleveland Browns and Their Three Stooges

I know you’ve missed me, so let me say Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year. Josh[1. Well, I NEVER] keeps me busy, so that’s about how long it’s been since I've written in this space. This week, the Cleveland Browns fell apart. The team has been on a downward spiral since the bye week, but it all came crashing down Sunday during…and after the game versus the Steelers. I have no dog in this fight, but I’ll say the Cleveland Browns are a complete and total disaster, and if they aren't, then management isn't doing anything to show anyone otherwise.

Divorce: I Am Divorcing The Cleveland Browns

After being spanked by the Steelers, the team fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski (I still won’t call him Chud, he’s 45), who proceeded to leave the team’s headquarters in Berea and run at least one traffic light. I can’t believe that happened.

The traffic light, not the firing.

On Monday, Chudzinski, Banner, and Haslam (not together of course) sat down with the media to explain what happened. Frankly, I’m not sure if any of the three of them knew what happened.

Here’s what it looks like, the Browns hired someone who they quickly decided he wasn't the right fit and sent him home for three years. I’m good with this. This type of thing happens in the real world. Chudzinski didn't get past his probation period, except in this instance he’ll get somewhere around $10 million to stay away.

In my opinion, if Haslam didn't think Chudzinski was the right guy, then he did the smart the thing by firing him. He’s obviously OK with the perception that the team doesn't have a clue as to what to do with its head coaching position. I’ll guess nothing could be further from the truth.

Haslam can obviously do whatever he wants to with his money, but the truth is the fans are upset. They don’t like a first year coach being fired, and many don’t seem to like the list of potential coaches. Fans have been committed to this organization since its return in 1999 through the countless coaching, quarterback and regime changes and it’s time for Haslam to put his money where his mouth is.

This can mean only two things:

  1. The Browns MUST make the playoffs next year.
  2. The Browns MUST find a coach and stick with him for a significant period of time.

There is a chance the Browns can accomplish both, but history clearly suggests  they can’t do anything but poop themselves.

If the playoffs or “significant improvement” don’t happen, then fans need to vote with the only instrument they really have: their dollars. It is time for fans to make the organization remember who buys tickets and merchandise, and who listens to hours of terrible programming on the radio.

Vote with your dollars. If that means there is a blackout or two, then so be it.

What's your stake?: Shareholders Vs. Stakeholders: Browns Fans Know Your Role

It’s time for the “best fans in football,” to become the smartest fans in football. If you like giving your money and time away to watch a shitty product every week, then don’t demand change. But if you are a smart, and If the team won’t listen to your anger on social media, then don’t show up on Sunday’s.

Am I Browns fan? Nope, but I picked them to win eight games this year. They did not. They were absolute garbage.

“Same old browns”

The Three Stooges

At Monday’s press conference WOIO’s Dan DeRoos asked Haslam if he, Banner and Lombardi were the Three Stooges. DeRoos said the question came from a post on Facebook. People became upset. Explain why? I, for one, and thrilled to have someone in the media ask a difficult question. If that question spurs change or causes management to pay attention, then DeRoos deserves praise.

You can argue if the way in which he did it was nice, but frankly, I don’t care. It’s a fair question that many fans want to hear and it deserved an answer.

How about instead of having the media ask the question, Haslam and Company invite 100 season ticket holders to Berea and allow them to ask whatever they want? I’m guessing the same question would have come up, and in even less polite terms.

If you think Dan DeRoos is more of an embarrassment than what the Browns have put on the field since 1999, then you are stupid. At this point, I don’t even know if the three guys running the Browns franchise are good enough to be compared to the Stooges, but we’ll find out soon with their next coaching hire.

Which is more embarrassing, having someone publicly ask your owner if he’s part of the Three Stooges, or having your football team win less than six football games for the sixth year in a row?

Exactly.

Browns fans deserve better. Demand it, and demand that if Haslam has to fire Banner and Lombardi to get the right coaches and players in here that he do it. If Haslam really cares about winning, he’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Photo from TeeSpring

 

 

 

FirstEnergy Stadium Upgrades Needed, But Not at Expense of Improving the #Browns

Let’s be real: FirstEnergy Stadium is among the worst stadiums in the National Football League. It was bad when it was originally designed, and it’s still bad almost 15 years later. I hate get into my normal role of Debbie Downer, but this facility is bad. Last week, the Browns announced their plans for stadium renovations, and yesterday they swindled the city into giving $12 million more than they were required to give in an effort to alleviate Mr. Haslam from paying the bill directly. Based on the math, the city will basically be covering the cost of the interest from any loans they take out, and while I don't think many fans care about Tennessee-shaped scoreboards, the reduction in seating is probably an indicator of the fan base losing interest. No, the Browns haven’t had a blackout in several years, but simply reducing the amount of available seats by almost 4,000 certainly reduces the chances they'll ever have a blackout.

The real question is, will the focus on improving the stadium take away from efforts to improve the product. As Jeff Rich (@JRichRadio) mentioned yesterday on our Browns podcast, ‘Orange and Brown Breakdown,’ the dollars certainly don't come from the same pot, but many of the people who will work on the stadium project will also work on improving the team.

Here’s what I want to know from those who attend Browns games; was the stadium in such poor condition that they needed to make these renovations now? Could they have waited?

My guess overall is that most Browns fans, or fans of any sport, would prefer the Browns improve the team, then worry about the stadium later. Do new and renovated stadiums improve the chances of landing free agents? Probably, but how realistic are the chances of the Browns landing free agents in any market?

Bowman: I am Divorcing the Cleveland Browns

The weather in Cleveland isn’t awesome, and since there’s nothing we can do about that, the best solution to landing free agents is to beat good teams and bad teams. The Browns can start by forgetting about what happened in Cincinnati last weekend, and beat Pittsburgh.

The Browns can improve the response of Cleveland residents, who ultimately own the stadium, by winning games. They could have won widespread support by paying for it entirely on their own, but decided to ask the city to foot part of the bill. Certainly, those of who have lived in the city would prefer that money go another source, but I understand that in general it can’t. My only hope is that in 15 years, Haslam and company aren’t standing at 601 Lakeside Avenue complaining how bad the stadium is while the team is in last place.

So, where do we go from here? Well, it seems obvious the Browns will have new scoreboards, reduced seating capacity and maybe, for those who care, improved Wi-Fi and cellular phone reception. Do you think these changes are needed, or could the Browns have waited to make these changes?

Also, who should pay? Yes, the city is obligated to contribute about $30 million over the next 15 years through its lease with the team, but should city contribute an additional $12 million or should Browns pay the entire cost themselves?

Why Helmet-to-Helmet Rules Exist and Why You Don’t Care

Last week in college football there were at least three players ejected under the NCAA’s new targeting rule, and at least as many helmet-to-helmet penalties flagged in the NFL. These are important rules for both players and the

sanctioning bodies at both levels of football. The NCAA and NFL are both driven by money, as are the players. The players want to make as much as humanly possible (which I support) and the owners and NCAA want to spend as little as possible (which I support).

Here’s the fundamental problem: both sides cannot win. In their zeal to reduce the amount of concussion-like injuries in the NFL, the league turned itself into what many call the ‘No Fun League.' Teasing names aside, at the end of the day the change is best for the players, but not the fans. Allow me to expand on this - as fans, we generally only care about two things: wins/losses and fantasy sports. For the most part, fans feel no direct impact on whether a player is injured or concussed, and the only real impact we feel is if a player isn't playing because of injury or suspension.

Bell: Expanding helmet rule could be NFL's next step

The owners in the NFL and administrators in the NCAA have a much bigger stake in the game than we do. No, I won’t say the owners have all the liability, but honestly they have most of it. The game cannot be played without the players, but it also cannot be played without the owners who finance the teams we watch or the stadiums we sit in. For the record, I don’t have an extra $2 billion dollars laying around to buy an NFL franchise.

What everything boils down to is the owners want to make money and protect their investments. In fact, their investments are really no different than your retirement account, except for the fact that they’re a lot larger.

Players, on the other hand, want to play and they aren't interested in protecting themselves, but they should be. One can only play football so long before life kicks in. The average NFL career is less than seven years. What about college football players who never make it to the NFL? What’s their post-football career outlook?

I’m not suggesting players stop playing football, because for some that simply isn't an option, but consider this: after you play football, what are you going to do with your life? Owners won’t care about you unless you’re suing them, and fans will forget about you six months after you leave school or retire.

Uni Watch: Impact of helmet policy

As fans, we live in the here and now, but owners and NCAA administrators have to think about the long-term effects of how violent football has become. If that fundamentally changes the way football is played, so be it.

What would you think of football if one of your sons, brothers, or husbands had played football only to retire and not remember his name in 10 or 15 years? At that point is his playing career more important than his life?

The easy answer is no, and the rules aren’t going to revert back to where they were 10 years ago. That’s a continuing adjustment for fans. Game officials will rightly err on the side of caution to protect players from themselves.

The simple fact is that fans have no skin in the game, other than maybe a few hundred dollars here or there, while owners are gambling with billions and players are risking their lives. Think about that the next time a player is ejected or fined for helmet-to-helmet contact.

I am Divorcing the Cleveland Browns

Over the next few days and weeks a myriad of my colleagues here at More Than a Fan will be making predictions about what the Cleveland Browns will do, how they’ll finish and project who they might play in the post-season. I won’t be doing a prediction for this season. I’m done with the Browns. I’ve done this before with Josh Cribbs, and before that ESPN, but yeah, I am divorcing the Cleveland Browns. Why? For one simple reason: They SUCK.

The “new” Cleveland Browns have been around since 1999, and haven’t done a thing. They’ve made one token playoff appearance, have had countless “regime” changes (btw, that’s a terrible name; these people aren’t dictators), and have had zero direction. Last year, Jimmy Haslam bought the team from Randy Lerner, and next year the team may have a different owner. You can call that direction if you want, but the only direction the team is going is down the toilet.

Last year, Browns fans wanted to lynch Brandon Weeden, now, in July, they love the dude. In November, you’ll be calling for a new quarterback.

The team and the local media have the fan base sucking from both the orange and brown teat at the same time. While you were sucking on those teats, have you paid any attention to the team since 1999? Obviously not, hope the sour milk is good.

Everyone gets up in arms when the national media says the Browns are the 30th, 31st, or 32nd worst team in the league. Well, they are. Until they can consistently put together a few seasons in row of being DECENT they deserve to be last in the rankings. Drafting a bunch of players, changing the coaching staff and giving a half-hearted vote of confidence in the teams quarterback isn’t incentive enough for the national media to rate the team any higher.

Who can change this perception? Of course the team can. Will they? Probably not in 2013. I don’t know what their record will be, but it won’t be awesome. I’m not the only one at MTAF that thinks so, super fan Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) even thinks 2013 won’t be the year.

So, we’re already looking forward to 2014? Wonderful.

Who is to blame? All of us. The fans, the current and former. The ones who waste thousands of dollars trekking to super shittastic Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Factory of Sadness Stadium to watch the team poop themselves weekly. If the Indians or Cavaliers had been as bad as the Browns have been since 1999, you would be out with pitchforks. The “other two Cleveland teams” have been better and more respectable, but the only thing the Browns fans and the media care about is a team that can’t even get out of its own way to be good at anything other than taking your money yearly.

I’m guessing at some point I’ll return to the Browns, but it won’t be in 2013, and ya know what, 2014 isn’t looking too good for me either. The team needs to be a consistent winner.

As Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) would say, “smart fans don’t watch terrible teams.” OK, I’m not sure that’s exactly what he said, but you get the point. At what point is it OK to walk away from the Browns like you did the Indians? The Indians have been competitive for at least the first half of each of the past 3 seasons, and fans can’t go to games. The Browns haven’t won an opening game in what feels like 10 years, and yet you’re all there year after year to witness an opening day loss.

Why?

Sure, you all have the same excuses, “there are only eight home games,” or “well Cleveland is a Browns town,” and the best is, “we’re the best fans in the world.” Stop it. You aren’t the best fans in the world; you’re idiots. You are paying your hard earned, blue-collar dollars on a shitty product.

Of course you can spend your money however you want, and I can call you idiots.

Why was the team so bad under Lerner, because he knew no matter what the product on the field was nearly 75,000 people would show up weekly. If I were Lerner, I’d be just like him if I knew the sheep would show up like y’all do.

Have a little respect for yourselves, and demand the team get better now, or be prepared to walk away.

If not, continue to wait for another year. I’m sure next year is the year the Cleveland Clowns get to the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns.

That’s the last time I’ll say the name until the team returns to respectability. In the meantime, they’re an embarrassment to the city.

A Very Cleveland Sports June

I’ll be totally honest with you: I haven’t written in weeks because I’ve been busy, and nothing in the sports world caught my attention. I was off Twitter & Facebook for the month of June and I was having too many beers and hot dogs to care about sports. Don’t be offended. I’m back. Since nothing still has caught my eye I’ll give a recap on what I thought of June's Cleveland Sports shenanigans through the eyes of twitterless observer. Obviously the two biggest non-sports stories in June were Paula Deen and the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Voting Rights Act, but since y’all don’t care about my politics, I’ll move on to sports. There have only been a handful of things to talk about, so let’s dive in.

Aaron Hernandez

What a douchenozzle. Look, I’ve been pretty angry with some people in life, which is why James (@j_cynic) calls me #AngryDamien, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never wanted to kill anyone. If I were going to kill someone, I’d contact OJ and Ray Lewis and get advice from them on killing someone and getting away with it. I’d guess their first piece of advice would be to, I dunno, have someone else do it? Yeah, you could get just as much time in prison for conspiracy, but at least you aren’t a murderer.

And dude, you’re on camera with a gun you own, then you claim you have no idea where it is, but they found a clip for the gun? I don’t predict this ends well for you, and you know what, you deserve everything you have coming to you.

The best thing that happened to you was passing on UConn for Florida, even though most players under Meyer at Florida were thugs, and the worst was signing for the Patriots. Tim Tebow thanks you for opening the door for him. Either way, you give credence to my post earlier this year that athletes shouldn’t be role models for children.

Kraft and Belichick were smart to cut you the day you were arrested. Yeah, they could have saved millions by waiting until camp started, but the bottom line is they don’t want your kind of garbage associated with their team, and even if fans don’t like Kraft and Belichick, they did what many college coaches wont do: distance themselves from idiots who are ungrateful for what they have and commit crimes.

Nothing like throwing away millions of dollars in income and a fiancé because some semi-pro football player pissed in your Cornflakes.

p.s. – good luck on those other two murders you thought wouldn’t come up either.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians are playing quite well. They played terribly for a stretch in June, but teams go through slumps all season. There’s a lot to like about this team. I personally don’t think they’ll make the playoffs this year, but for your sake I hope they do. Let me go on record by saying that securing one of two wild-card slots and being bounced in a one-game playoff doesn’t count as making the playoffs, although Indians front office personnel and many amateur writers will say it does.

It doesn’t. Nice try.

Also, last week the dudes over at Waiting for Next Year wrote up a whole big thing about the Indians ticket pricing structure and how this was and wasn’t fair. I dunno, I had to read it 10 times to figure out. Here’s the bottom line: if the weekend games are too expensive for you, then go during the week.

Your kids are out of school, so take the plunge and go on a Tuesday night. If the only time you can afford to go is on $1 dog night, how about you eat before you go to the game and go on a different night? If everyone who bitched about the price of tickets went to to ONE game during the season, attendance would likely increase by an average of 3-4,000 each night. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s better than having a team in first place and only having 12,000 show up.

For the record, I’ve probably been to 10 games this year. I like baseball, so I go…even if it requires me to suffer through Brohio (worst promotion ever) and $1 dogs (second worse promotion ever) with Hayden.

Cleveland Cavaliers

I don’t watch the NBA. The product is generally terrible, and I’m not a fan of the draft system they use. It’s unneeded drama in so many ways. All that said, I have no idea who Anthony Bennett is, but I can tell you he isn’t worthy of a #1 overall pick. How do I know he isn’t worthy? Because I’ve never heard of him. You can continue to give Gilbert and Grant a pass (like Aaron did Tuesday), but the work those two have done with the team has been shittastic since they took over.

Oh, and stop blaming the departure of LeBron James.

If the Cavaliers don’t make the playoffs this season, then Dan Gilbert is the new Larry Dolan. Argue with me. I’ll wait.

Cleveland Browns

Can we call Chudzinski, Chudzinski? Jesus Christ. How old is this dude, and people are calling him Chud? H

How many people at the Plain Dealer, WTAM, WKNR, WKRK, etc are blowing the people in Berea to where they can’t act like reporters? If someone on MSNBC referred to President Obama with some stupid nickname y’all would be hanging them by his testicles. His name is Rob Chudzinski.

Use it.

I don’t know what’s going on with Jimmy Haslam, but when your company makes about $40 billion a year and you have $4 billion in debt, you don’t have a cash flow problem. Companies have debt, you have debt, and I have debt. If I make $120,000 per year and have $10,000 in debt, you certainly wouldn’t tell me the sky is falling, so why are you doing the same for Haslam?

Things aren’t well for him, and he’ll probably end up selling the team. I hope he doesn’t because I think he’s a decent dude, and not because he’s from Tennessee (#RockyTop), but because he’s better than the alternative. What’s the alternative? No one knows, and we all know the devil you don’t know is worse than the devil you do know.

If Haslam has to sell, will it go back to Lerner? Anyone know, because I don’t.

As far as Haslam’s background check, he had already been vetted by the NFL when he owned part of the Steelers, and I’m guessing this FBI thing started well after that. No offense to anyone in the NFL, but the FBI generally doesn’t care about you, so they probably aren’t willing to share the details of an active investigation. His potential crimes with his family’s business are a much bigger deal than the Cleveland Browns.

Did I miss anything? Of course I did, so I’ll try and pump out more words for you later this week on the other stuff I missed. Let me know what you think of what I wrote here.

Email me at Damien@morethanafan.net and follow me on Twitter @DamienBowman

NFL Security Policy Change Now Attacking Flask Carriers, Tampon-Carrying Women, and Babies In Diapers

Last week, the a new NFL Security Policy, dubbed All Clear, was announced with the hope of improving security inside stadiums. Fans will no longer be allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, or any other type of bag that is not clear, or larger than 12” x 6” x 12”. The only non-clear bags women will be allowed to bring are clutch type bags. Beginning this season, there will also be an additional perimeter around stadiums that will prevent those who have prohibited items from getting close to the stadiums. These changes are good if you plan to blow up 70,000 people or want to bring a flask of Crown Royal; but if you need tampons, or are coming in with a family, the NFL has given you the middle finger. Sure, you could have each member of your family bring a clear plastic bag with their diapers, Depends, or whatever incontinence wearables they may need, but how embarrassing is that?

The funniest part of this entire change is the $40 tote bags the league sells on its online store and at stadiums cannot be used to bring items into those same venues.

NFL Security Policy Tote

From SportsGrid's Rick Chandler:

A lot of women I know won’t go anywhere without a proper purse, and asking them to leave them behind, or transfer the contents to a clear plastic tote, is pretty much out of the question. They don’t want you seeing what’s in there, and frankly I don’t want to see it either. But rest assured everything in there is pretty much essential for human survival. If the NFL is trying to make the league more accessible to women, this is the PR goof of the decade so far.

I’m all about the safety of fans at stadiums, but at some point the constant checking of every single thing brought anywhere has to stop. I’m guessing this approach is better -- read cheaper -- than allowing teams to setup one or two entrances with metal detectors for larger bags, but do these changes encourage you to visit NFL stadiums with your family?

The NFL does make some exceptions for those who have particular needs. This is from NFL Chief Security Officer Jeff Miller:

Absolutely, we will always look out for people who have special needs.  The exception that we have made is for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate that is designated for that person.  An individual like that [a Carolina Panthers season ticket holder who has an autistic child with Asperger’s Syndrome] with a special need would contact the Panthers and go to the gate that has been designated.  They may be subject to a secondary screening prior to getting into the buffer zone area and then when they get to that gate they will be screened in and be able to attend the game just like they always did.

This is nice, by why is this dude picking on some poor kid with a disease that is a Panthers fan. Isn’t being a Panthers fan traumatic enough?

Miller goes on to explain that setting up additional security so fans can bring in larger bags and other items simply don’t work because of the number of people. What Mr. Miller forgets is that venues such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Daytona International, and even smaller places such as Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course allow these items, and in some cases have a capacity of nearly 400,000 people.

The better solution would be to require fans with bags to arrive earlier to have their bags inspected and allow those fans who are arrive with nothing to go through existing security. Allow fans to continue to bring in those items, but make it extremely difficult to do so. Eventually they’ll get the point.

The NFL also thinks you’re stupid, so they had expensive drawings made of what a clutch purse looks like and a clear plastic bag. I included them to make you feel stupid.

 bag_image_v3b_1371166617 bag_image_v3a_1371166608

 Yes, of course the NFL will sell you a branded version of their clear 12x6x12 tote. Who knows how much it will be, but it won't be cheap.

If that wasn’t enough, the NFL also said no more seat cushions. So apparently, they now hate your grandparents who hate sitting on hard plastic.

What do you think of the NFL’s new security policy? Will you leave your babies in car so you watch the games without diapers? How soon until the full-body scanners appear at stadiums?

Cleveland Fanhood Questions

tg I don’t know if you noticed, but I haven’t been around Twitter for a while. I actually quit for the month of June and, outside of manning my scheduled shifts on the MTAF account, I haven’t peeked.

Last week though, I did see a few tweets showcasing Cleveland fanhood that piqued my interest, so I thought, maybe since I don’t really have an opinion on anything else, I’d write about what I saw and let you know where I stand.

For the record, and if you’ve known or followed me long enough, I’m not a 100% Cleveland fan. This probably bothers some of you, but it is reality. That takes me to the first part of my story.

I was born in Cleveland and have spent different amounts of time in various places for various reasons. To say I’ve been in more states than most of you is an understatement, so my loyalty is certainly different than yours.

I have loyalty to the Indians, because they were bad when I was little, very good when I was in high school, and have had ups and downs since. As much as I don’t like the NBA, if I had to pick a team, I’d probably pick the Cavs for similar reasons. They’ve had periods of time when they’ve been both good and downright terrible.

That leaves us with one last team, the Crunch.

I’m kidding, that leaves the Browns. This is going to be the deal breaker for a lot of you, but I’m just not a Browns fan. Can you really blame me? The team was gone while I was in high school and have been the worst team on this side of the Mississippi since 1999. They were decent while I was growing up, but I have no real connection to them.

So you might ask, “well, what’s your favorite NFL team?” The honest answer is that I don’t know. I say that because I don’t care. I’m a firm believer that people are more loyal to their college football teams than they are to their professional football teams.

People from Cleveland “hate” Bengals fans on Sunday, but “love” them as fellow Buckeyes on Saturday? Makes no sense to me.

So, I am asking an honest question. If you had to pick between your college football team and your NFL team, which would it be?

If you lived in SEC country, the answer is obvious. Up north, where we’ve had both NFL and college football forever, the answer isn’t so simple.

I think if you live in a state like Ohio, the Buckeyes take the cake over the Browns or Bengals, but it would be up for debate.

If you live in Indiana, however, the choice may be more clear. The Hoosiers aren’t a football power, the Colts have had past success, and, thanks to Andrew Luck, are looking a bright future in the face. Michigan folks have a clear choice as well, as Wolverine fandom overpowers Lions fandom.

Hmm, maybe the answer is obvious?

For some, that assessment isn’t the same, but here’s the thing: you’re allowed to like whichever team you want.

I just turned 31, I’m not married, and I have no kids (thank God), but one thing I’ve learned over my three decades about people in Cleveland is that they’re really passionate about their teams. Maybe to a fault.

I remember seeing a tweet from someone that said, “If I saw the hottest woman in the world and she was perfect for me, but found out she was a Steelers fan, I’d NEVER marry her.”

Let that sink in for a moment. You mean to tell me that you’re willing to pass on Mrs. Right because she happens to be a fan of the team that’s beaten the crap out of your team for 20-plus years? If you were talking about Mrs. Right Now, I could maybe see it.

I said all this to simply say, live a little.

Sports is supposed to be a place to get away from the everyday stresses. They are a place to hide from reality and enjoy yourself.

If your weekend is “ruined” because the Buckeyes, Browns, or Cavs lost a game, you might want to take a step back and reevaluate where you are in life.

If Chris Perez blows a save and your first instinct is to tweet him, call him a horrible name, and wish death upon him, you need to get to the 480 bridge and jump. At that very moment, you’ll realize how unimportant sports is compared to the game of life.

The older you get, the more your temperament should change about sports. If you’re 22 and you want to have 50 beers and argue and spit at Browns Stadium, or whatever it’s called, have at it. Just know, I’m 31 and if I do that, get arrested, and make a trip to the slammer, I won’t have a job Tuesday.

So, guess what I’m going to do?

I’m going to let you call me every name in the book and watch the police escort you out of the stadium.

There’s a time and place to get upset about sports, but here’s something to think about: why do you get more upset about the outcome of the game than the players? It makes no sense to me. They’re living, breathing, and doing it, and yet, you’re more upset about the outcome than they are.

You should think about that when you’re wishing death upon Perez or turning down Mrs. Right who just happens to be a Steelers fan.

[tl;dr] What Would You Say if You Were Mike Lombardi?

Yesterday, Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi gave a sort of state of the Browns speech to the Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. In summary, he basically said the team is looking towards 2014 and beyond, with low expectations for this year. If you were Mike Lombardi, would you have said anything different? I know this is something that gets said over and over again, but the Browns are in the midst of a regime change, and depending on what happens with Jimmy Haslam, they could be looking at new owners in the near future as well. So, the question is, what are your expectations for the Browns this year, and are you upset or bothered by what Lombardi said about looking towards 2014, and not the upcoming one?

Honestly, my expectations are low, but that’s because I saw what the Browns did in the offseason with changes in the front office, coaching staff, and team personnel. I then realized not much positive can come from next season (for your sake, I hope I’m wrong). The personnel on the 2013 Browns is certainly better than the 2012 Browns, and the team will certainly perform better with coordinators that have more experience, even if the head coach isn’t awesome.

I have no problem with head coach Rob Chudzinski, but he wasn’t exactly awesome at his last job, but that means nothing in Cleveland. This is certainly a city and team he’s familiar with, so there’s no reason this cannot be a reclamation project for himself.

So, where do Browns fans go from here? You’ll have to be patient, for at least another year. The team owes its quarterback at least half the season to determine if he’s the right person to lead this franchise for the next few seasons, or decide if another quarterback will be needed.

Honestly, neither Brandon Weeden nor whomever the team drafts or acquires through free agency is the biggest problem in Berea. The problem doesn’t reside inside Browns headquarters, but maybe it’s with the fans themselves.

Browns fans have been incredibly patient since 1999, and while the organization has done nothing to make them feel appreciative the fans come back year after year. No matter what else happens in the city Browns news will always get top billing.

So, knowing this, as Mike Lombardi does, aren’t you appreciative of the fact that he’s telling you right now that the team is likely looking forward to making waves in 2014 and not necessarily in 2013?

I know I’d rather be told the truth about this season than be led to believe I need to reserve hotel rooms for the Super Bowl. tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.

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I am Divorcing Josh Cribbs

Josh Cribbs, Cleveland Browns (in Pro Bowl) by Automotive Rhythms, on Flickr Am I the only one who is glad Josh Cribbs is no longer a member of the Cleveland Browns? I can't be, but when I look at all the fancy social networks it seems everyone is still in love with this guy. Why? I thought as sports fans we were supposed to love the names on the front of the jersey not the back?

Josh Cribbs was great for civic pride, whatever that means in 2013, but as far being a Browns player he hasn't been good for the team recently. In fact, in the past three seasons he's been one of the biggest complainers and disappointments in the organization.

Remember in 2010 when he cleaned out his locker and said he wasn't going to honor the three remaining years on his contract? I guess he thinks he's the prize we're all supposed to be after? Then he used you, the fans, and your emotions to get ownership to reward him with a new contract. Ask yourselves, has he lived up to the $20 million-plus this team has paid him since he was drafted?

Josh Cribbs is the biggest fraud in Cleveland sports. Many of you will argue Travis Hafner is, but his failures can easily be blamed on injuries. Hafner never used and abused you like Josh Cribbs did.

I wish Travis Hafner luck, not because I think he is a good person (he isn't), but because he is what I thought he was. Hafner was given a contract, while he was injured, because he played well and had a good agent. Cribbs has been part of terrible teams, and hasn't done much to keep his value high, that's why the Browns parted ways with him. He had good spots, and at times was one of the brightest stars, but when he didn't get what he wanted he cried like a third grader. Who does that?

Yet the city and its fans worship him as if he led the Browns to a championship. Sure, Cribbs went to Kent State and has amazing ties to the community, but at this point none of that will translate into advancing this team towards the playoffs.

Browns fans, it's time to realize athletes are no different than most of us; they go to work because it pays them. Remember, these people play a game, and while some may consider what they do serious work, the overall economic value they bring is minimal.

It has come time to wish Josh Cribbs good luck in Arizona, hope that he is successful, but remember he only loved you as long as you were willing to give him everything and anything he asked of you. Sounds like that ex-lover who only wanted one thing from you, whereas you wanted the world.

Cribbs couldn't buy a full page ad in the Plain Dealer, or just simply say thank you, he had to send this through his twitter account:

How cute. Where's the checkbox for "yes, I'll always love you?"

WAKE UP!

You are Browns fans, and as delusional as most of you are about how good your team will be every season you are still amongst the most loyal in all of sports. Josh Cribbs is a player who scored a few touchdowns in games you mostly loss. He never lived up to the hype, and cried like a third grader when he didn't get enough playing time. Now, he's someone else's problem. Man up, and move on.

Remember this, you love the Cleveland Browns even though the franchise has generally pooped on you since 1999.

Is Cribbs a good player? No, he is past his prime, but at one time he was absolutely one of the best at returning balls in the league. What happened? He got old, and the league changed the rules.

It's obvious Cribbs still has a lot of fans in the area, and if you're a fan of his and you happened to like the Browns because of him, then so be it, but if you're a Browns fan then at this point it is time for him and the organization to move on.

Make no mistake; this is not so much about Cribbs and the highs and lows he caused you on the football field as much as it is about fans who need to remember who you are fans of, the Cleveland Browns.

For Cleveland to Get a Fair Deal, Haslam Needs to Build His Own Home for the Browns

Cleveland's North Harbor In September, I wrote about the need for a new stadium for the Cleveland Browns and moving its location from the lakefront. Nothing has changed my mind since September, but now I know the city still owes about $160 million in bond payments on the stadium, and those are not set to expire until the end of 2027. We all know there is no way Jimmy Haslam will stay in current Cleveland Browns Stadium until 2027. In fact, if he were smart he’d get out of that dump in the next eight years. The only way for him to possibly build a new stadium before the bonds expire in 2027 is to either ask voters to extend the sin tax or build the stadium himself.

When the citizens of Cuyahoga County voted to extend the sin tax in 1995 to build a new football stadium, the deal left the City of Cleveland holding the bag for all expenses and left it little room to generate any revenue in return. In fact, the city is allowed to only host about 10 events per year in a stadium it owns and maintains at its own expense. The Browns keep all revenue from tickets, concessions, parking and advertisement in the stadium for any other events.

When the Browns and Jimmy Haslam decide it is time to replace their stadium they should do so on their own dime or give the voters more control over its facility. The sin tax should not be the burden of Cuyahoga County voters alone, but should extend to contiguous counties. It is unfair that those of us who live in the county are the only ones who are responsible for the payment of the stadium when many non-Cuyahoga County residents attend games.

The other scenario is one in which I fully support, that Haslam and the Browns build and pay for the stadium themselves with minor infrastructure contributions from a city or county. I personally am not in favor of building another stadium without a dome of some kind, or a facility that sits on city’s prime lakefront real estate. Since there is no other space large enough downtown to build the stadium without tearing down the city’s precious historic buildings, that means that Haslam will - and should - build the stadium outside of downtown.

clemapJosh (@RailbirdJ) and I have discussed this many times, and I think we both generally agree the best area for the stadium would be somewhere along the I-71 corridor near the airport and turnpike or, as an alternate location, somewhere along I-77. This new facility does not need to be in Cuyahoga County or the City of Cleveland.

NEWSFLASH: That is not downtown, nor is it near the lake, but in the end the city and the region is better if the stadium is not in either place. Most people who attend Browns games are in and out of downtown as soon as the game is over and do not shop, stop at bars, or go to the casino.

As foreign as this concept may sound there is an NFL team that built its own stadium not near the cityy's core; The New England Patriots. Do you know how far Gillette Stadium is from Fenway? Thirty miles. Do you know how much impact it has on the economic growth of the team and downtown Boston? Zero

Robert Kraft built his own stadium after coming to an agreement with Foxborough and he controls the stadium, its maintenance and its events. He keeps the revenue from tickets, parking, and concessions. The city of Foxborough collects taxes on each and is not responsible for any stadium maintenance.

Browns fans, while this deal might sound a lot like what the Gund brothers did with the Cavaliers in Richfield, it isn’t. Traffic infrastructure is better and everyone knows the region will support the Browns over the Cavaliers any day.

Do I have faith that current regional leadership will make this deal happen? Of course not, so I guess all of this is just a pipe dream. Think about what I have said though, if you are going to build and pay for a stadium that will likely cost upwards of $500 million, shouldn’t the owners at least have a say in its operations and benefit from its revenue?

If Haslam wants to be a good civic partner, either he will pay for the entire facility using private dollars or he’ll shoulder upwards of 80% of the debt. At this point, it is the only fair thing to do.

Photo courtesy of Tom Baker (@mylifeinhdr) on Flickr.

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A Quickie On Chip Kelly

It is 6:30 am on Saturday and I literally have nothing to do (this is a lie), so I thought I'd write this quick post about Chip Kelly and the Browns. This is highly Illegal, and Josh will likely kill me. Oh well.

After spending seven hours in negotiations with the Browns, Chip Kelly has smartly decided to explore his opportunities with the Eagles and Bills. Browns fans, this is not bad. There is nothing worse than someone who commits to a job only to having regrets later about not exploring other options.

We are to the point where everyone needs to practice the p-word: patience. Yes, get excited about Kelly and what he might bring, but hold off on photoshopping him into Browns gear or changing your profile pics from your wife to Kelly until he has at least confirmed that he is signing with Cleveland.

For the record, replacing a picture of your wife with Chip Kelly is wrong on many fronts.

Look, I know some of you are genuinely thrilled to have the man, I personally am 50/50 on the hire. Do I think his offense as constructed will work in the NFL, not a chance. Do I think he'll adopt some up-tempo style and integrate portions of his Oregon offense into that up-tempo style, of course.

Once those wrinkles are implemented with the right offensive pieces it could would very well in the NFL, and more importantly in the AFC North, which is the NFLs version of the Big Ten.

By Big Ten I mean, power run and with big ugly dudes on the line. Unlike the Big Ten, teams in the AFC North prove they can win when it matters.

As far as the quarterback, look I don’t pretend to be a X and O guy, but I do remember Brandon Weedon playing a high speed offense at Oklahoma State and amassing a lot of yards and touchdowns under that system. So if Kelly were to choose Cleveland, he could "suffer" through with Weeden until a quarterback he wants becomes available.

Everyone else? No clue what Kelly could or should do, and frankly you don’t know either.

Whomever is the next Browns coach still has a lot of work to do, and to assume, or even hope it means you can book tickets to New Jersey for next year's Super Bowl is ludicrous.

Patience.

Remember, there are two sides to this negotiation and either side could walk away at any point for a number of reasons.

If Kelly walks away after seven hours, then you certainly cannot blame management. If you can’t convince someone in seven hours, then they weren't buying your pizza anyway.

Have a great weekend.

Shareholders vs. Stakeholders: Browns Fans Know Your Role

Picture: browns fan by dennis, on Flickr

You’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns, cool story. You’ve been a supporter for many decades, congratulations. Your family has had season tickets since Otto Graham, here’s your cookie. Know what you are? A stakeholder. You are customers of the Browns and are interested in how they perform.

Randy Lerner inherited the team from his father and has sold, to this point, 70 percent of the team to Jimmy Haslam. Know what they are? Shareholders. They own the business and take all the risk. Your only risk that you hope to get in and out of Browns Stadium without one of your drunk friends falling from the upper level to the lower level.

Yeah, what I said was harsh, but true. It is no different than the companies you own through your retirement account. Except in those, you have a voting interest in the outcome of those companies.

Yes, you buy tickets, merchandise, and beer to support the Browns. Those purchases don’t give you rights to tell ownership or management how to run their business.

Example: You own a pizza shop, and I come in and ask for a pizza and it’s terrible. The next day I come back and give you a list of things you can do to make your pizza better.

The reaction that you have as the owner, or shareholder, of that pizza shop is probably the same reaction that Haslam and Banner have when you tell them who to draft or hire as their next coach.

This logic applies to fans of all teams, not just Browns. I’ll use Browns fans because they are among the most delusional fans in any sport, anywhere. Yes, you even have Ohio State and Alabama fans beat.

What we know about Jimmy Haslam: he knows just as much about running a football team as you do, which is zero. Something else we know: he hired someone he thinks can run his organization better than Haslam could himself. Yeah, that’s totally different than the previous owner, who is still a partial owner.

The last owner wrongly considered the fans “shareholders” and himself a “stakeholder.” Through six “regime” changes, 13 seasons, and what feels like a million quarterbacks the only thing ownership got right was their ability to keep you buying tickets year after year.

I have a feeling Haslam knows he’s THE shareholder and that fans are stakeholders.

I know this next part will fall on deaf ears, but I’ll type it out on my fancy keyboard anyway. Sit back, enjoy the game, and don’t be scared.

Haslam turned the day to day organization garbage to Banner in hopes that he will run it like a real business. Haslam put all of his trust in Banner to run the Browns like a real business. How do I know? He gave Banner the title of CEO; then Banner hired a President, for the business side, and soon he’ll hire people to manage the football side of the operation.

No, it won’t be in the traditional sense that we have all come to know and hate, but the head coach will control the roster while the general manager and director of player personnel will support the head coach. At this point it appears all three will report to Banner.

Sure, you don’t like it because it isn’t something you’re used to.

Stakeholder.

There are essentially two shareholders and they’re OK with the configuration, and as a person who works in a very large corporation and is also a shareholder, I’m OK with it. I cannot run the behemoth that is my company, but when the board of directors (shareholders) voted in a new CEO a few years ago I went with it. Why? Because they know more about running a business than I do.

The group that I work for has a pseudo CEO, he’s my boss. As CEO, he has several people who report to him and we are responsible for the inner workings of this 25,000 employee group inside of a company of nearly 600,000. Do I tell my boss how to do his job? Of course not.

When our clients (stakeholders), who pay us billions of dollars call and complain, do I let them tell me how to run this group? Of course not.

See how this works?

Let’s go back to the pizza shop and reverse roles, if you continue to eat my bad pizza, at the end of the day, who is to blame? It certainly isn’t me. You’re the one that continues to buy crappy pizza and continues to complain about it.

Please, express frustration at losses and excitement at victories, but if you, as a stakeholder, don’t like the product the shareholders or their company is producing feel free to take your business elsewhere.

When I find a crappy pizza place I don’t go back. Certainly as a stakeholder I can find better pizza somewhere else, right?

If Haslam and Banner keep giving you crappy pizza, why not eat pizza somewhere else? I have, and so should you.

Remember your role – stakeholder. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

NFL Doubleheader Sunday

In this final week of NFL action, all viewers receive a doubleheader of action. For those of you living in the Cleveland area you'll see the Browns in Pittsburgh on CBS at 1 and on FOX you'll see the Chicago Bears take on the Detroit Lions. In the afternoon games on CBS you'll see Miami Dolphins in Foxboro vs. the New England Patriots and on FOX the Green Bay Packers will battle Vikings in Minneapolis.

The final NBC Sunday Night game will show the Cowboys visiting our nations capital to take on Redskins.

These games and many more are automatically updated through our Sports Calendar Feed. Subscribe and watch.

Source: the506.com //

More Than a Fan Sports Calendar

What time does Ohio State play? What channel are the Browns on? What day is the Daytona 500 next year? Yeah, I cannot keep up with the times or places of most sporting events without looking them up online. So, we created a calendar that you can view on your phone or e-mail client.

We’ll keep the calendar up to date, and you enjoy the games.

HTML Link: HTML

ICS: Import into another calendar application Subscribe with your phone using the above link

[google-calendar-events id="1"]

Rob Parker, Racism and ESPN From a Cornball Brother

ESPN’s Rob Parker had a few interesting comments on Robert Griffin III; here they are, out of context, for your consumption:

“I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that…We always try to find similarities in life, no matter what it is so they’re going to try to put you in a box with other African-American quarterbacks – Vick, Newton, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon…That’s the goal. Just to go out and not try to prove anybody wrong but just let your talents speak for themselves.”

We keep hearing this so it makes me wonder deeper about him. I’ve talked to some people in Washington D.C. My question, which is just a straight, honest question, is he a brother or is he a cornball brother”

He’s not really. Okay, he’s black, but he’s not really down with the cause…

He’s kind of black, but He’s not really the guy you want to hang out with. He’s off to something else.

We all know he has a white fiancée. People always talk about how he’s Republican. There’s no information at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper into why he has an issue.”

I am going to do my best to defend Rob Parker and  to tell you why he was wrong at the same time. This is a long and difficult path, so bear with me.

It is 2012, and as much as we like to pretend it does not, racism still exists in this country. And It is no more prevalent than in the African-American community.

I have said this for years. Yes, I am black, so I can say whatever I want about this subject; but if you are not black you cannot. See the problem?

Parker frames his comments under the guise that he is trying to get to know and “understand” Griffin, which he could easily do by spending time with him instead of asking the opinions of those in the D.C. community who do not know him personally, either.

I grew up in the inner-city of Cleveland and went to Catholic school most of my life. I spent one semester of first grade in public school. If you have ever heard me on the More Than a Fan podcast you would likely think I am a white man. As I said already, I am not.

I live in the suburbs where the population is 97% Caucasian, I have a very good job, and I do not rob or shoot people. I have never been married, but most of my girlfriends have been white, which is something I never hide. I am also a member of “the party of Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

According to Rob Parker, I am a “cornball brother.” Most of my friends, black and white, call me Damien. The other type of “brother” are the ones that are not responsible to themselves, their families, or the rest of society.

They likely do not have jobs, have multiple unsupported children, and are not educated beyond ninth grade. In the African-American community if you are a “cornball brother” you are considered white and are therefore ostracized from the greater community. You get made fun of, get called “white,” and are often questioned about your sexuality and about slave status.

When I explain to people that I grew up in the murder capital of Cleveland (4th district, Mt. Pleasant neighborhood) people often asked what I did to get out. Easy, I went to school, got decent grades, got a job and moved. They let anyone do those same things regardless of skin color. Shocking, I know.

Parker and others in the African-American community should replace to term “cornball brother” with “model” and do everything they can to produce as many of these as possible.

The “cause” should be producing more African-American males like Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, and Robert Griffin III. Each are past or present successful African-American NFL players who should be considered “cornball brothers” models.

Parker refers to the “cause” in his comments. What is the cause? It should be ending racism within the race, but it seems like it is easier to throw the race card around when something does not go one’s way versus eradicating the stereotype.

Many in the African-American community would say Parker is 100% accurate in his comments, but Parker’s problem is that he cannot say what he said on ESPN. And in reality, ESPN did the right thing by suspending him.

What should ESPN do with Rob Parker? The same thing they did with Rush Limbaugh and Jay Mariotti; terminate him. In corporate America the term “suspended until further notice” is code for “finding a way to terminate with cause,” and in this case it is the right thing to do.

No one, Rob Parker or Rush Limbaugh, should get away with this behavior and if needed Disney, ESPN’s parent company, should step in and fire Rob Parker to send a message to its columnists throughout the company.

Disney does its best to come off as the biggest of family companies. How long did it take ESPN to “fire” Jay Mariotti, four days? Do the same here because not even Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson can defend Rob Parker’s comments.

There is a lot of truth in what Parker said, but his venue and the context in which he made those comments makes him look foolish. Parker needs not apologize to anyone except for those in the African American community that think being a “brother” is the right path in life.

It isn't what you say, but how you say it.

Parker transcript provided by The Big Lead

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Cleveland Browns Next Head Coach: Home Run or Solution

ead Coach Pat Shurmur and Mike Holmgren by Erik Daniel Drost, on Flickr Two questions: do you envision the return of Pat Shurmur to the Cleveland Browns next season and who is the next coach of the Cleveland Browns?

At this point in this season, many believe the Browns are just playing the season out and the general feeling is that Pat Shurmur will not return next season to coach the Browns.

Since this incarnation of the Cleveland Browns have never had to hire a new coach, we should talk about what the Browns should look for in their next coach.

In my real job I hire and fire people on daily basis, and the one question I ask myself before I make any move is “Who do we get and how much is it going to cost?” In any other situation I would apply the same logic to the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns, but in this situation that will not work at all.

The appropriate question is “Home run or solution?” On its face, you would think that would be an easy question, but history shows us that it is not.

What is the difference? Well that is an easy answer, home run hires are ones that excite the fan base and immediately make fans want to buy tickets, but do not necessarily achieve the goal of winning games.

On the other side of the coin are solution hires, or those that solve the problem that the home run hire creates. Solution hires often stay in their jobs for a lengthy amount of time and produce quantifiable results. In the Browns case, this would be consistent win totals and playoff appearances.

On More Than a Fan, I focus most of my efforts on college football, and currently there are about 13 Division I-A (FBS) job openings, none with a higher profile than the job at Tennessee. Tennessee faces the same question that Browns management will face in hiring its next coach: home run or solution.

For both Browns and Tennessee fans a common name is Jon Gruden. Gruden obviously has ties to Tennessee, where his wife was a cheerleader and he was a graduate assistant. Gruden's Cleveland ties are his birth in nearby Sandusky and attending college at Muskingum and Dayton. He also, allegedly, grew up as a Browns fan.

The question for both fanbases is do you think Jon Gruden is a home run hire or the solution to your coaching problems? Yes, Jon Gruden has a Super Bowl ring, but some consider it illegitimate because he was playing with Tony Dungy’s players. That argument is ridiculous.

Browns fans have been tortured on Sundays since 1999, and new owner Jimmy Haslam now has the chance to right the ship with a solution hire, but Browns fans may have to resign themselves to the fact that best coach may not always be the most exciting coach.

Set reasonable goals for the teams and maintain those goals throughout the season. Winning in week one does not mean you should look for Super Bowl tickets. If the coach is the solution you will know when to make those plans, but even if the Browns only make it to the playoffs for five or six years, is that such a bad thing?

I am guessing as a Browns fan you would be willing to trade places with Colts fans who made only made the playoffs eleven times since 1999 and only have one Super Bowl title to show for it?

As easy as it is to get excited about big name coaches coming to Cleveland, look at the picture above and tell me if the big name coach on the right worked out for the team or if he was a bust. Then ask yourself if you want your next coach to be a home run or a solution.

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Perspective: Why Athletes are NOT More Important Than You and I

TJ Ward & Joe Haden Cleveland Browns by sportiqe, on Flickr I will be honest with you, I was not even planning to write another article before next Thursday because I have to work and travel, but I could not let this go.

I am sitting in craptastic Chicago O’Hare Airport, otherwise known as one of the worst destinations in the Midwest. I just finished a semi-spirited discussion on Twitter on how athletes should be allowed to have a personal life even when they are sick or injured.

Here is this bottom line; the job that athletes have is not more important than the one that you, I, and the mayor of any city in America has. Why? Our jobs effect people. They are entertainers whose job pays them a salary that is slightly higher than ours.

Joe Haden, who allegedly plays football for the Cleveland Browns, is injured and may not play this week. People are up in arms that instead of spending every waking moment rehabilitating himself and preparing for a GAME on Sunday, he would dare to enjoy life and go to the Casino in downtown Cleveland.

Athletes are no more important to their job than you or I are, in fact, they are probably less important. If I take a sick day and decide I want to go to a baseball game or the casino, so be it. Why are athletes not allowed to enjoy their lives as you and I are?

Guess what; there is more to life than your job. Here’s the question I posed on Twitter: When you call off sick from work, do you stay home and do nothing or does life go on with other plans? Exactly, there are things you are going to do.

Remember, your job is more important than their job. I know, they play football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc., but get perspective—it is a sport. If you work as a nurse, teacher, Twinkie maker, I.T. dude, car salesperson, or almost anything else, your job is much more important than someone who entertains. Does Joe Haden matter to the Browns? Sure. Is he more important than someone that has an effect on someone else? Not a chance.

If you put more importance on what an athlete does in his or her personal time above what happens in your life, you have already lost the battle of life.

Happy Thanksgiving. //

Fixing the Football's Atrocious Overtime Rules

This past weekend I spent two wonderful days in Knoxville, Tennessee. I along with three of my other friends went on our somewhat-annual trip to Neyland Stadium and watched Tennessee take on new Southeastern Conference member Missouri. A side note to all of this, if you have never been to Neyland or have never heard the song “Rocky Top,” I promise you will have heard it at least 60 times by the time you leave. The game was rather entertaining as you can probably tell by the final score of 51-48.

Watching football in the south is an incredible experience that I will likely write about one of these days. While most of the game was rather enjoyable, the part that bothered me the most was overtime. I mostly prefer college’s football rules to those of the NFL because I like pure football without the blatant advantages given to the offense.

To summarize, in college football overtime starts with a coin toss to determine who will receive the ball first and which end of the field they will play at. Each team receives one possession in which to score and starting with the third overtime period teams are required to attempt a two-point conversion versus simply kicking a field goal. Both teams play at the same end of the field and start their possession at the 25-yard line. No game clock, but the 25-second play clock is used for each play from scrimmage.

Does anyone have a problem with those rules? I do. The picture above was taken from my seats at Neyland and is not zoomed. The four periods of overtime were played at the far end of the stadium. I know--buy better seats. Easier said than done. Would it be so hard for college football to alternate which end of the field they play on each period? No, but that is not even the biggest problem I have with overtime in college football.

Why do they start at the 25-yard line? The Canadian Football League, which uses the same “Kansas Playoff” format, starts each possession at the 35-yard line. I would prefer they started somewhere closer to the 50-yard line, but I am more than willing to accept the 35-yard line to force them to get at least two first downs before attempting a field goal.

Another issue, why do we need to continue playing until a team wins? Missouri and Tennessee played four overtime periods. Yes, it was fun to watch…if you were at home, and could go to bathroom and drink a beer. Neyland does not sell beer and it takes 10 minutes to walk to the closest bathroom. Solution: play two overtime periods. If neither team can figure it out, call it a tie and let us go home.

To be completely honest, I also do not like the overtime format the NFL uses. Sunday, I was out with fellow twitteres (is that a word?) Marcus (@seel_deal) and Becky (@reinhoren) watching the overtime game between St. Louis and San Francisco and the best part of the overtime was once we were into regular game mode. My point: the NFL should either play sudden death from the beginning or play an additional quarter.

Before I end, I would like to thank everyone for the excellent feedback you gave to Josh (@RailBirdJ) and I on our semi-impromptu college football podcast. We only planned to do about 20 minutes and ended up with 60 minutes of solid college football talk.

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