The Gleam: Talk to the Relationship Expert

Bernie's Insiders fan columnists are real fans, with real jobs. Well, some of them, anyway. Sometimes they will vanish from these pages for stretches, while they hold down <i>multiple</i> jobs. Such is the case with Danimal, who has been moonlighting as a advisor to the lovelorn. <P><I>Opinions expressed by fan commentators may not reflect those of Bernie Kosar or the staff of</I>

Recently, the good folks here at Bernie's Insiders (responding to the mass demand) opened up a helpful service where visitors were invited to write in with their relationship difficulties. Our resident relationship expert, Danimal, was chosen to take on the selfless task of helping the lovelorn. Here is a smattering of letters and Danimal's advice:


Dear Danimal:
I've been seeing this married guy for five years. He's repeatedly told me he loves me but that things have been "complicated" and he can't leave his wife because he says he still has some obligation to her and her kids. I'm sure he'll leave his wife someday, right? What should I do?
- Deluded, Immature, Misguided Woman Instills Turpitude

Your delusions of this guy leaving his wife are as unrealistic as Browns fans' delusions of a significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball this off-season.

I will grant Earl Holmes and Dwayne Rudd were not exactly All-Pros last year (even a helmeted Rudd) and that Corey Fuller is on the back nine of his career, but we sure as heck did not improve these positions. I am especially concerned about the corners, where we have an undersized (yet plucky) Daylon McCutcheon and another corner who was picked on enough last year to make me think his ten interception rookie year was a mirage. Unless some team in the AFC Central picks up Elvis Grbac, Anthony Henry will have another long year if he is the starter. I heard he began answering to the name "Toast" towards the middle of last season.

While we're talking secondary, why the heck is Robert Griffith still on the team? I thought we were getting rid of all our aging, unproductive, overpriced veterans. He, more than anyone not named Courtney, was the biggest 2002 disappointment to me. His reputation of big hits masks his inability to wrap up and/or make routine tackles on average running backs (i.e., James Mungro). If I hear one more person describe Griffith as an "enforcer," I will go off and tear up my poster of Marquis Smith. Seriously, get me a safety with some cover skills who can actually make routine tackles. The hits don't have to be bone-jarring; just make sure you get the guy down. The big hits may make SportsCenter and NFL PrimeTime, but it's the routine, first-down saving tackles that win division titles.

All told, you can get away with a mediocre secondary if you've got an effective pass rush that can bring pressure in the 4th quarter. However, if you rush the passer like the Maginot Line™ did last year, your defense has problems and get ready for games in the 30s.

Dear Danimal:
I am a sophomore in college, and I have a crush on this woman in my Biology 101 class. She's really great. Cute. Smart. Funny. Can make the throw from third. Everything I've always wanted in a woman. There's one problem: she has a reputation as a girl who's "been around," if you know what I mean. What should I do?
- Concerned Over Woman

Dear COW:
I think I do know what you mean, but don't worry about it! Ask her out!

Sometimes someone's reputation has nothing to do with reality. For example, Carmen Policy has a reputation of being a salary cap guru, front-office organizer, and generally as a person who is invaluable to the day to day operations of the franchises that employ him. The late Al Lerner even called him the "Yoda of football." The thing is, I have yet to figure out what Policy actually does in the Browns organization besides rap with Trivasonno and complain to the City Council and Cleveland's finest about the rowdiness of Browns fans. Does he have anything to do with player procurement? Contract negotiations? If so, why is he considered a genius? It took a grand total of 4 years from franchise re-inception for the Browns to get into the red salary-cap wise while Super Bowl caliber teams like Philadelphia have the luxury of millions of cap space.

Looking back at what happened in San Francisco, this should not be surprising. Policy and Dwight Clark left a mess behind in the Bay Area that took Mooch years to clean up. As for that player procurement issue, what can you say about the drafts he's been involved in other than to say, "Why did we take that guy?" The first reader who can provide me with a cogent account or descriptions of Carmen Policy's job description and accomplishments gets a free copy of my new book on stress and resiliency: "Chicken Soup for the Cleveland Fan's Soul."

Dear Danimal:
I am a 70 year old college professor who teaches Latin. I have become attracted to one of my colleagues who recently posed for Playboy. She has made it clear that she would like for us to become more than friends. What should I do?
- Viagra Inhaling Lucky Etymologist

Dear VILE:
While the thought of dating someone 40 to 50 years younger than you may seem awkward at first (for you and those around you), the more time you spend with her the more used to the idea of a (much) younger girlfriend you will get. It may take time and seem unnatural, but it could be for the best.

For example, it was initially awkward for me to think of Kelly Holcomb as the possible starter and Tim Couch as the possible backup. After all, it is Holcomb who is the career backup and it is Couch who has the title of Franchise Quarterback™. But anybody who compared Holcomb vs. Pittsburgh to Couch vs. Pittsburgh has to come to the conclusion Holcomb is better suited to run our offense.

The folks on Edge NFL Matchup did a wonderful and informative comparison of Couch and Holcomb vs. the Pittsburgh defense in 2002. Whereas Couch looked jittery, dazed, and confused vs. the various blitz packages, Holcomb looked decisive and seemed to know where all the defensive players were and where they were coming from; as a result, Holcomb know where to go with the ball.

I think all Browns fans should be concerned that Couch has barely showed a modicum of improvement since his rookie season. He will be starting his 5th season in Cleveland, he still is easily confused in the pocket and prone to the stupid interception. For quarterbacks with relatively weak arms, a high football IQ and good decision make abilities are essential; he simply cannot make throws that the Brett Favres and John Elways can make. Therefore, he needs to be a lot more careful about throwing in traffic or throwing the deep out.

Sometimes I think Tim Couch to the Pro Bowl is about as likely as Missy Elliott as chairperson of an abstinence awareness campaign. Holcomb should be the starter.

Dear Danimal:
I'm concerned about my relationship with my boyfriend. The only times he wants to talk to me are around midnight to 2:00 am, when he calls me over to "fool around." I'm successful, smart, financially independent, but I have not found true love yet. What should I do?
- Why won't we work?

Dear WWWW:
Forget about this guy. You're obviously reaching for something in a desperate attempt to find what you're looking for.

Speaking of reaches, did you see the Browns 2003 draft? A center in the first round? A linebacker from a winless Division II team in the second round? A corner who did not even participate in the Indianapolis combines in the third round? A long snapper in the fifth round who quipped on draft day, "I can't believe I was drafted"?

Clearly, the strategy in this draft was need over best player available. Some teams subscribe to this strategy and, to be certain, it has its place at times – when a franchise is on the cusp of the Super Bowl and needs that one hold plugged to get over, for example. But the Browns are still not near a Super Bowl; in fact, when you combine this draft with our relative inactivity in free agency and our uncertainty at quarterback, the gut feeling here is that we will struggle to match last season's nine win total. I don't know where our pass rush is going to come from. I don't know who our linebackers, guards, and tight ends will be. I don't know if Jeff Faine can become Dermotti Dawson II, which is what he needs to be if we're going to get good value on a first round center. I know every team has issues and uncertainties at this time, but the Browns have too many uncertainties for me to believe another run to the playoffs is in the cards. 

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