Levine: Browns Town? A Common Theme

Les gets a lot of letters explaining why Browns fans are so devoted...

In last week's column I asked you why this continues to be a ‘Browns Town', considering the general lack of success, and three years of hiatus, since 1990.  I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of responses, and almost everyone made a good case for themselves.  One, however, somehow decided I was too negative with that question, and I should resign from any forum that I have to discuss Cleveland sports.  But that aside, there was a common theme throughout most of the responses.

Even though the Browns have not been very successful throughout those years, the great success of the early years of the franchise, leading to the Bernie Kosar-led teams of the 1980's, continues to keep people coming back for more.  Unlike many other cities, mostly in the warm-weather part of the country, Cleveland people don't seem to migrate to other places.  And when they do, they take their teams with them. 

The common thread is that parents and grandparents pass the torch to the younger generations, based on their own experiences.  There is probably a way to check this, but I would guess that most season ticket holders, even since the re-birth of the team, have had those tickets longer than those of most other cities, excluding the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants.

Even those under 30 years of age cited the legends of Paul Brown, Marion Motley, Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli and Jim Brown as reasons for their passionate interest in the team.

Unfortunately, it will be a long time before other players or coaches will join that list.  When you consider that Jamir Miller is the only player to make the Pro Bowl in the six years of the new franchise, and the only current player on the roster to make it, Robert Griffith, did it with Minnesota in 2000. 

Going back further, unless Clay Matthews somehow gets some support, it doesn't look like anyone who played here since 1989 will make the Hall of Fame in Canton based on his performance in Cleveland (obviously Ozzie Newsome is the exception).  The newest generation of Browns fans will continue to be passionate, but unless some successes are achieved on the field soon, it might be tough for their children to carry it on.

While the Browns offensive line has received a lot of criticism for their play on the field, there should be some concern for events that have taken place off the field.  

Allegations have been made about some activities that have taken place at the home of lineman Ross Verba, although he claims he wasn't present at the time these things took place.  And Ryan Tucker made an insensitive remark on a radio show.  He was given the opportunity to apologize at the time, but didn't do it until later.  According to a Browns spokesman, the comment referred to ‘Hitler having an easier time getting people to take a tour of Auschwitz' than he had in getting players to join him on the show.  With a little sensitivity training, Tucker might learn that, while he wears number 72 on his sleeve, millions of people had more numbers than that tattooed onto their arms.

Despite the problems of the offensive line in recent years, Verba and Tucker, have not been the real problems.  In fact, both had pretty good years in 2004.  But perhaps not good enough to overcome their off-the-field problems.

I've never seen anyone enjoy a victory as much as Terry Robiskie did on Sunday.  And he deserved it. 

I believe he is the only coach in NFL history to have the tag ‘interim' twice during his career.  A huge chain of events would have to occur for him to shed that tag this time, but here's hoping the Browns find some place in the organization for him. 

He is a good guy, and most of the players like and respect him, although that doesn't necessarily qualify him to lead the new front office into the future.  The bottom line is that he did as good a job as possible under trying circumstances---tough opponents;  Luke McCown;  a divided locker room, etc.  But it probably won't be good enough to keep him as permanent head coach.

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11pm-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com

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