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Thank you. Now, on with the silliness...
There, apparently, is no such thing as too much coverage of the NFL. Even here in the midwestern backwaters, the Cleveland Browns have a dozen media entities, in addition to this one, and a half-dozen blogs covering the team.
Whatever there is to be said has been said, and will be said multiple times.
When there is nothing left to say, no news to report, the media is required to say something anyway.
No entity is a greater generator of news, real or artificial, than media colossus ESPN, which has amassed an Army of beat writers in every NFL city to mix-and-match with the Bristol mothership’s endless supply of pundits, prognosticators, draftniks, ex-athletes, radio yappers, ex-front office types, and other varieties of sports babblers yet to be defined.
When ESPN runs out of things to actually report on, they keep going anyway, coming up with artificial news via rankings, grades, summaries, post-mortems and other types of blather to fill the empty websites and airwaves.
Such has been the case this week with a series of “analyses” from Bristol looking both backward (free agency) and forward (draft) to happier times when actual news is happening.
One thing I noticed very early on in my career as a tracker - I won’t say reporter - covering the Browns is that last year’s results inevitably become next year’s predictions.
Look at any season preview predictions. They’re generally the previous year’s standings with individual teams tweaked up and down based on the consensus perception of how well they did with off-season transactions.
So it will go with the Browns. Until they win on the field, they’re going to be considered close to a laughingstock, if not an actual laughingstock. This off-season has been damaging, with high-profile news like Johnny Manziel’s rehab and Ray Farmer’s texting.
It looks like the team can do nothing right in the eyes of the national media. So, they’ll assume that they’ll continue to do nothing right until they’re proven wrong. It’s pretty easy to pick the Browns to continue to stumble their way through the league.
Wherever an organization happens to be, on a peak or in a valley, national media organizations like ESPN assume that placement will continue for the foreseeable future. There is no delta, there is no potential, there is only the here and now, and celebrity/athletes. Little else matters which you’re frantic to have a take in a vacuum of news and knowledge.
Probably the most successful bit of Cleveland trolling by ESPN this week was their “Insider” piece rating each team’s free agency transactions. While the Browns have gotten moderate to slightly positive reviews elsewhere, the ESPN gang of people who might - just might - be able to spot Cleveland on a map gave them the league’s only “D”.
“I just do not think anyone wants to play for the Browns”, ranted Matt Williamson (whoever he is), “They are the new Raiders. It’s easy to say I would go out and get Suh if I were the GM, but he does not want to play there.”
Nice. The new Raiders. Someone wants to make a name for himself.
After that comes overhyped draft analyst Mel Kiper*:
“You’ve got three quarterbacks in that division who are winners”, Kiper said, inferring the opposite for the Browns, “So unless you figure that out and get a lot better at quarterback, no matter what else happens, you are a fourth-place team.”
There’s a national pundit’s analysis for you. What is past is future, and let’s talk about the quarterback.
"Bowe could have filled the need but not at $6.25 million a year over the next two years. His production over the past three years isn’t worth that kind of money, at least not to the Chiefs, who unlike the Browns don’t have a lot of cap room to waste.
The Chiefs can find Bowe’s kind of numbers at a lower cost. It appears they intend to do that with one of their 10 draft picks."
So, basically, the Browns are boneheads for giving Bowe that sort of money.
And so on. And so forth.
These sort of things can get to you unless you’re careful. If you start believing ESPN’s virtual reality simulation, you can find yourself assuming all is lost. Or, if your team is doing well, you can start believing they’re unstoppable. Neither is ever true.
The Browns are not in a good situation, but they are not without hope, particularly on defense.
Just understand that you, as an OBR reader, who presumably reads other Browns sites as well, are probably twice or three times better informed about the Browns than the various pundits and prognosticators paid to yammer controversial things at ESPN’s 24/7 funnel of noise.
In the end, who gives a damn about what ESPN thinks? They’re largely national folks with an inch-deep understanding of the Browns history and direction, and won’t react to change until the change has happened.
I don’t listen to ESPN radio. Nothing against Mike, Mike, and other Mike’s, but I simply don’t. I don’t watch ESPN on TV unless Ohio State or the Browns are stuck playing there. I don’t read ESPN magazine or start my day on ESPN.com’s website. When I hear of ESPN saying something, it’s generally through the dutiful, yet pointless, second-hand blogging of what someone on ESPN said provided on a local site.
ESPN isn’t a major part of my life, and it isn’t just because I used to work for a competitor. It wasn’t before, during, or since.
I am much happier for all of this.
Don’t you want to be happy, too?
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* Putting a mock draft behind a premium door? Really?