bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: The Cleveland Browns are reaping what they sowed

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Some sports franchises just seem to be cursed. A few teams seem to live magical existences, making one good decision after another, and even the bad ones that are mixed in there don’t seem to hurt. Other organizations just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Usually, it seems pretty obvious to outside observers that some of the decisions these teams make are doomed from the start, but the people actually making those decisions don’t seem to see it. The Cleveland Browns are one of these franchises, and this past weekend was evidence of that.

Although the Browns would appear to have been around forever, their true history is much briefer than you might think. Sure, a team called the Cleveland Browns began its existence in 1945. However, that team is now known as the Baltimore Ravens, having moved to Maryland in 1996. The current Browns team started as an expansion team in 1999. With some sleight of hand, the NFL allowed the new team to keep the name and history of the original Browns franchise, so the history supposedly belongs to this team. They have only managed two winning seasons since this all happened.

Jimmy Haslam, a Tennessee businessman, bought the team in 2012. His first act as owner was to hire Joe Banner as the team’s CEO. Anyone from Philadelphia could have immediately told you that this was a bad and baffling move. Banner was universally despised in Philadelphia during his long stint as team president of the Eagles. Banner didn’t last two years in Cleveland, being pushed aside in one of the house cleanings that seem to happen quite often over there. The 2014 draft happened shortly after, and that’s when things really started to go off the rails. The team had two first round picks due to some trades, and with the first one, it took Justin Gilbert, a talented cornerback from Oklahoma State. With the team’s second first round pick, it took quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, much to the delight of ESPN and media everywhere, who seemed to treat the flamboyant Manziel as if he were the only player worth covering in this draft.

The 2014 season started well for the Browns, as they ran out to a 7-4 record and were a playoff contender late in the season. Brian Hoyer, a local boy, had beaten out Manziel in the preseason and was starting at quarterback. Then the wheels came off. Playing against the Buffalo Bills on the last day of November, the Browns fell behind 20-3. Hoyer was benched and Manziel came into the game. He led the team to a touchdown, but then sputtered and the Browns lost. After another loss with Hoyer, coach Mike Pettine started Manziel against Cincinnati. The Browns were crushed, 30-0, and Manziel was awful. He was just as bad in the next game against Carolina. Meanwhile, Gilbert had played poorly all year and had shown a lousy attitude to boot.

This past weekend, it all came to head. First, receiver Josh Gordon, another very talented player with major off-the-field issues, showed up late to the team’s practice on Saturday before the season finale against the Ravens. It was then revealed that Manziel, who had been hurt against the Panthers, failed to show up at the team’s facility for treatment and had to be retrieved by team security after he didn’t answer phone calls. Finally, Gilbert was late to a team meeting later on Saturday. CBS Sports later reported that Manziel had thrown a party on Friday night, and that this was the reason for his and Gordon’s tardiness on Saturday. This all happened on the heels of Manziel stating that he knew he needed to grow up, work harder, and take his job more seriously. The team suspended Gordon, benched Gilbert, and fined Manziel. Oh, and they also lost to Baltimore.

Is there anyone who did not see the obvious problems that were going to come with taking Manziel (other than Browns management, who clearly had their eyes closed)? I really don’t understand that sort of decision making, especially for a guy who I don’t even see as an NFL quarterback even when you take away the massive character issues. The Browns are bad and will continue to be bad, as long as they keep making decisions like the ones that led to their current situation. Anyone considering using a very high pick to take Jameis Winston in the upcoming draft should pay a lot of attention here.

Bad sports, continued:

2) Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is a hell of a player but he is also a big jerk. Fined numerous times for his refusal to talk to the media after games, Lynch was fined again this past week for a touchdown celebration that involved falling backward into the end zone while grabbing his crotch. Classy.

3) Ndamukong Suh is another player who has incurred numerous fines in recent years. His have usually been for dirty play, with the latest example being no exception. This time, he twice stepped on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ leg late in the Detroit Lions’ game against the Packers on Sunday. The act certainly appeared to be intentional, and the NFL must have thought so too, as Suh was suspended for his team’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend, although an appeal looks to be overturning the decision.

Good sports:

1) An assistant coach for the Carolina Panthers did a very good deed last week. Eric Washington heard a story about a Charlotte family whose Christmas presents had all been stolen during a break-in. He and his family purchased gifts for the family and delivered them to their home in time for the holiday.

2) J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans is simply ridiculous. Sure, he has scored a silly number of offensive touchdowns for a defensive player, but he is pretty good at his day job too. On Sunday, he became the first player to ever have two twenty sack seasons. He accomplished that feat on his third sack of the day against the Jacksonville Jaguars, with the final takedown being a safety.

3) You don’t see a lot of college football players under 5’10 or so. Chances are, you have never seen one under 4’10. Jayson Carter, a running back for Rice, is 4’9. That didn’t stop him from getting a carry during the Hawaii Bowl on Wednesday. He only gained two yards, and got leveled for his trouble, but he did it. Good for him.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week


Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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