Friday, 21 December 2012

Cleveland Browns fans aren't paranoid depressives (but the 'factory of sadness' does have it in for us): Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Only in Cleveland ...

In discussing Cleveland as a sports town, we hold these truths to be self-evident:

People here weren't created paranoid. They've just found perfectly good reason to expect the worst over the years.

With Joe Banner announcing Alec Scheiner as team president in charge of business matters, the immediate worry -- because that's what we do best -- is that Banner wants to direct all his attention to meddling in and lording over the football operation.

The concern is that we had it all wrong. Jimmy Haslam doesn't want to be Jerry Jones. Joe Banner wants to be Jerry Jones.

Is it justified? Not really. Is there evidence to support it? Not much.

Not yet anyway.

Banner says he will act quickly in shaping the organization at season's end. Good. That's a positive.

"What we're trying to do is look down the road a couple of years from now and the qualities that will be required to make the right decisions, have the right philosophy of building the team ..." Banner said Tuesday.

That also makes sense.

Pat Shurmur finishing the season strong, which he was doing before Sunday's derailment, should never have been a consideration for keeping him in 2013. Is he the coach to lead the Browns to the playoffs and to a Super Bowl? That was always the far better question than asking whether it's right to replace a coach on a hot streak. The same goes for Tom Heckert.

In introducing Scheiner, Banner raised the qualifications for what comes next by calling it an example of getting the "best of the best." Banner said that would be the organization's goal in all the important hires ahead.

The "best of the best" on the football side is a fine idea. It would seem to be a high standard to meet, however, if Banner is going to insist on absolute veto power. Wouldn't that scare some candidates away?

Few people here seem to have a problem with Banner deciding he can find a better coach than Shurmur. It's when the conversation turns to Heckert, and former Browns executive Mike Lombardi as his possible successor, that the concern skyrockets.

Let's not get caught up in whether Lombardi greased the skids for Bernie Kosar's departure here in the '90s by allegedly putting together a tape of all his bad plays to show Art Modell. If he did that, he did so as a Bill Belichick lieutenant. It's also 20 years ago.

Concentrating on Lombardi's resume is fair game. Asking what he's done to be considered "best of" material is legitimate. Belichick ran things here. Lombardi was a consultant in Philly. Al Davis ran things in Oakland. Lombardi has worked for NFL Network since Oakland.

You could argue that unless you're thinking in musical terms and have in mind "The Best of Milli Vanilli," he wouldn't meet Banner's standard. We'll see. Only in Cleveland, though, is it possible for glowing opinions on a new owner and CEO -- remember the excitement? -- to change for the worse over a decision they haven't announced.

Haslam comes from a football family. It's hard to believe he spent $1 billion and stepped down as CEO of Pilot Flying J to watch Banner hire a coach and GM purely to consolidate his own power base.

Let's wait until something goes wrong.

Around here, after all, it usually doesn't take long.


? A Jets fan issued death threats against quarterback Mark Sanchez after an ugly 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. One of his Twitter messages read, "Don't come to practice Wed. I promise you bullets everywhere."

His Twitter handle: BraveGrancru. Because nothing says brave quite like anonymous threats.

? Math problem of the day: If two balls heading in opposite directions leave the hands of Tristan Thompson and Brandon Weeden, respectively, at the same time, which one gets batted away first?

? Idiot Part II: In a direct message exchange with USA Today, "BraveGrancru" eventually said he meant no harm. But before regaining his composure, he suggested he was so upset with the shoddy play of the Jets and Sanchez that he couldn't engage in intimate relations with his girlfriend.

USA Today did not ask the obvious follow-up question. Who's the lucky lady?

? When Banner says the Browns haven't made up their minds yet about the futures of Shurmur and Heckert, he must mean whether to fire them on the Monday or Tuesday after the season.

? Scheiner, the Browns' new team president, supervised the new stadium and game-day experience in Dallas while serving as Jones' right-hand man on all business-related matters.

If the Cowboys are the model and a scoreboard on the same scale as theirs is in the works here, look for it to have all the bells and whistles -- scores, fantasy info, the HD experience fans enjoy at home and -- since it will be big enough to also serve as a bridge to Canada -- its own Customs agents.

? Fans of the Zenit soccer club in St. Petersburg, Russia, want to ban gay and non-white athletes from playing for the two-time Russian champions. These are the same cretins who threw bananas at Christopher Samba, a visiting black player.

Team officials have renounced Landscrona, the prominent group of Zenit supporters leading the anti-minority movement. Until this past September, the New York Times pointed out, Zenit was the only top club to never employ a black player.

So take that renouncement for all the lip service it's worth.

? Ignorance Part II: In an unrelated (we hope) matter, the Guardian newspaper reported recently that "for more than a month, Russians around the country have been buying up candles and matches, salt and torches in an effort to outsmart the apocalypse some believe will come when the Mayan calendar runs out on Friday."

This is the country that's going to play host to the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.

If the Mayans are partially correct, and when we wake up Friday there is no Landscrona club of Zenit supporters, we'll forgive the ancients their bigger swing and miss.

NASA video (scheduled for Saturday but released early) on why apocalypse didn't happen

? If there's an example of worse timing than Russians spewing hate 14 months from welcoming the world in the Olympics, it's this:

In a 38-10 loss to Arizona, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions (two returned for TDs) a week after offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of him, "Matt's definitely on track to be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the position."

It's only fair to consider the opponent. It's not as if Arizona lost 59-0 the week before.

It was only 58-0.

? I keep hearing from Twitter Land that Nick Swisher, who has an offer on the table from the Indians, isn't worth the contract numbers he'll command. Just like the Dolans. Always showering free agents with ridiculous sums of money.

? Ignorance Part III: Candles? Salt? If anything can get you through an apocalypse, it's holding a candle with your left hand while tossing a pinch of salt over your shoulder for good luck.

? Alabama athletic director Mal Moore believes head football coach Nick Saban is staying put. He bases that on heart-to-heart conversations over the past several years.

When Saban was considering leaving the Dolphins, Moore quoted Saban saying, "When I go to work [in Miami], I feel like I'm working at a damn factory. I never see a soul."

Sound like a guy who's ready to take on Mike Polk Jr.'s "Factory of Sadness?"

? The Des Moines Register reports a $3 million donation to a Iowa high school football program comes with the stipulation that the new visiting team locker room be pink. The family making the donation, which recently won the Powerball lottery, is hopeful the color pink will put visitors to Bondurant-Farrar High in a "soft" frame of mind.

While the home team's players will continue to be angry they didn't win the lottery, too.


(The Condensed Midweek Edition)


"Does the State of Ohio's 'Lemon Law' have any jurisdiction over your column?" -- Jim Corrigan

Jurisdiction over, yes. Interest in, no.

"Hey, Bud:

"Is it true the Cavs' next giveaway is Phantom of the Opera masks?" -- Doug, Westlake

If it's not Tristan Thompson first.


"Will Roger Goodell fine Paul Tagliabue for his rulings on Bounty-Gate?" -- Gayle Venner

No. He'll take the same tone he took with Scott Fujita. He'll just tell him how disappointed he is in him. And that he's grounded and can't check Facebook for 24 hours.


"Any chance Browns will hire Jon Gruden? I don't think he's all that great a coach, but anything to get him off Monday Night Football." -- Eddie Vidmar

I checked with Gruden. Not one to overstate things, he thinks your comment is "the strongest, quickest jab I've ever seen in history, not just football history, but the history of, you know, humans."

"Hey, Bud:

"Would Brandon Anderson describe Derek Weeden as 'ordinary'?" -- Nick

First-time "You Said It" winners receive a T-shirt from the Mental Floss collection.

"Hey, Bud:

"Do you think three years as the leader of the NFL's 'Little Sisters of the Poor' qualifies Mike Holmgren to start a successful charity of his own?" -- Nate J, Brunswick

Repeat winners get a T-shirt deduction.

On Twitter: @budshaw


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