It’s too bad the Browns don’t reside in an apathetic, bandwagon, johnny-come-lately town. That way we could just shrug off their massive incompetence and disarray as a quirky little punchline in our sports world. But the reality is the Browns are the heartbeat (somehow) of one our country’s best sports towns. This is no longer funny. This is criminal.
The news of Tuesday’s trade deadline should be the (rebooted) franchise’s darkest hour. It’s not the Drive or the Fumble or the Move, but it tops the last 20 years of embarrassment. The moment you think it can’t get any more comically horrendous in Northeast Ohio it does. You think you’ve seen the bottom of this mine shaft? Better pop in fresh batteries to that helmet light, buster. We’re sinker even deeper into the abyss.
Before the season began I wrote about the mistake the Browns were making in starting DeShone Kizer. So back on the quarterback Merry-Go-Round, only Cleveland’s front office could think it had a deal done, unfortunately to have it negated by the league. They didn’t get the paperwork finalized in time, like running to the post office on Tax Day at midnight and having the door shut in your face. Does this ever happen to the Patriots, Packers, Steelers or Seahawks? Of course not. Bill Belichick never kicks up his feet on the desk to congratulate himself only to have the league call him sheepishly like your mechanic telling you the car you just bought is a lemon.
First, the Browns missed out on their targeted quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. Not only did their dreamboat Jimmy G. head off to San Francisco, but he was purchased for just a second round pick. That’s all? The Browns have been stockpiling those things for moments exactly like this! They’ve been trading down and passing on all types of future stars (see Wentz, Carson and Watson, Deshaun) behind the strategy of using these picks in trade scenarios.
Second, in a mad dash to overcompensate losing Garoppolo the Browns decided to give two picks to the Bengals for A.J. McCarron. Forget for a moment that Cincinnati’s backup quarterback is not valued around the league nearly as much as Garoppolo. This was like paying the goosed gas rate at the rental car counter. You didn’t plan well enough, so now you have to fork over $3.72/gallon. You were left with no other options.
Third, the Browns brass felt so confident it had nailed this trade just minutes before the deadline there were high-fives and first-pumps around the office. Oops. If you think you’ve won the lotto, make sure you scratch that final number before you start celebrating and buying a house in Barbados. There is another more subversive theory where Hue Jackson tried to force a deal for McCarron by getting the owner to press on the front office. And the brain trust made the deal looking to submarine it by failing to file the paperwork. And this would be the height of dysfunction for the most dysfunctional franchise.
The Browns are he most clueless franchise in the league, and possibly in all of our continent’s major pro sports. And the true sin of it is that fan base doesn’t deserve this. None of it. The city loves football so much it used to fill up decrepit, crumbling Cleveland Municipal, and deal with rotten bleachers and leaking roofs. The team is so entrenched the NFL had to keep the colors, team name, and history for a reboot. When the Oilers left Houston, they left for good. When the Cardinals left St. Louis, the bird didn’t stay behind. But in Cleveland it would be too much to bear, a loss too great, so the league had to re-gift the city it’s football team.
And what has the city earned for its never-ending passion? It’s limitless love? A clown show. A five-alarm diaper fire. A parade of moronic GMs, dithering coaches, and a dimwitted owner. It never abates, and while the franchise has been the butt of endless punchlines, this is no longer funny. This is cruel.
Since ’01, the Browns have had as many opening-day coaches (seven) as the Patriots have Super Bowl appearances. It’s funny to everyone except not to that city and those fans. This is criminal negligence and likely the final straw for this front office. So the Browns will restart again in the offseason, another reboot in a marathon of nightmares and clownishness. And it won’t end. It never does. We only propel lower into the darkness.
D.A. hosts 9am-12 pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.