I hate this time of year. Hate hate hate.
This is the dead zone. Football season is over, baseball season won't start for another couple of weeks, and there's basketball & hockey everywhere. Blah. It's still too cold and grim outside for outdoor activities, but I'm sure I could clean the garage or something. Blech. Best to sit in front of the PC and let whatever is in my head pour out.
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I admit it. My football views are less relevant than anything you're likely to read on any football publication anywhere. I never played the game, have a tendency to drink beer while watching it, and don't even have Hunter Thompson's experiences of watching the Super Bowl in a hotel room while on a variety of hallucinogens. Although, I have to admit, that I probably did an eerie beer-based simulation while watching the Buckeyes play in college. But that's a story for another column.
If there is one element of professional football I genuinely understand, though, it's the overspending. I can overspend with the best of them, as anyone who has been in my basement rec room can attest. Because I understand this, I firmly believe that the Browns should deal their #1 draft choice for Ricky Williams.
The Browns, through the grace of the NFL and their initial suckitude, are blessed with three very high draft choices on their roster in Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, and Gerard Warren. All are signed to long-term deals at top dollar. Since the game of winning in the NFL is spending well, and not just spending, the Browns are in a position to make a move that could pay off siginificantly in the future. Williams' incentive-based contract is extremely cap-friendly and would likely provide more value per dollar than anyone the Browns can draft at their slot.
If the Browns had a shot at McKinnie or Williams at their spot in the draft, I would encourage them to go that route. But they don't, and they would have to overpay for any other offensive lineman in the middle of the first round. Duckett, Green, or Shockley might be worth the payout expected at the spot in the draft. But it's a dead-lock that Williams would be.
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One of the most annoying books that my children ever demanded I read to them was a book where nearly every word started with the letter "P". I'd look up the name, but I'm in the February blahs so you have to go without this critical piece of knowledge. Anyhow, the book talked about a "perfect pink princess prancing prettily" and stuff like that which apparently is enjoyable for 2-year-olds to listen to.
( Trust me, I'm going somewhere with this.)
What I remember, though, is that the book made constant reference to the need for the heroine to marry the "proper pinheaded prince".
That's the term that popped into my mind when I read about the chaos in Tampa Bay as the Glazer family attempts to find a new head coach for their Buccaneers. First, we have the Glazers firing the only coach in NFL history not named George Allen to get canned after five winning seasons. Then, there was the Parcells fiasco. Followed by the Gruden fiasco. And, finally, the wooing and subsequent dissing of Marvin Lewis.
What a mess.
It brings up the fact that most NFL teams are really not well-run businesses, despite the league's image as an economic powerhouse. I would suggest that one of the reasons for this is the selection process used to determine many of the league's owners. The selection criteria for many is this:
1. Last name
2. Last name
3. Cash on hand
The list of perfectly pinheaded princes in the NFL is not a short one. Starting with Bidwell, zipping to Mike Brown and David Modell, and including the Glazers, there are many individuals running NFL teams who are doing so simply because of their lineage. The only royalty left in the US are winding up the way most royalty does: hopelessly inept when left to their own devices, or holding elective office in Massachusetts. Either way, it's ugly to watch.
Nepotism as a corporate strategy is not, I think, recommended by the Harvard Business School. And you wonder why beer costs $6.
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I am forever scarred by the actions of NFL owners in the mid-to-late 1990s, where they used various forms of blackmail to extort lavish new stadiums from communities across the United States. While the NFL's rally-round-the-flag Superbowl Spectacular should have inspired feelings of patriotism in me, all I could think of was the hypocrisy of NFL greedheads showing the flag while cities across the country, such as Cleveland, struggle to balance their books. Cuts in services are likely here in Cleveland during this economic downturn, and the people who pay are the ones who send their kids to school or depend on government services. Here in Northeast Ohio, nearly every school levy failed last week.
It was only when a bunch of guys from Ireland took to the stage at halftime that my emotions kicked in. U2 remains an incendiary rock band, and one of the few that can still elicit passion in their music. After years of dull mainstream performances providing horrific spectacles of excess, the band's performance was a welcome tonic. For a few moments, this middle-aged suburbanite remembered the soul-stirring power of rock-and-roll at its best. Hurrah.
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I'm going to take my kids to see Ice Age when it comes out because it features a small mammal getting stomped on by various other creatures. As one who longs for the good old days when cartoon critters were seen (being hit on the head by anvils) and not heard (chattering endlessly), I consider this a positive development. This doesn't have anything to do with professional football. Or maybe it does.
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While considering cartoons, the only thing seemingly less likely than Wile E. Coyte roasting the Roadrunner was watching Tony Grossi become a hero among Browns fans last week.
We used to call Grossi "Coach" on BrownsTNG because I watched him intercept a question or two posted intended for Chris Palmer when the Browns unlucky first coach had a weekly TV show. This phrase caught on among the dawgs who hung with us on BTNG, showing that Grossi's image among longtime Dawgs wasn't exactly stellar.
All that ended last week, when no less a Cleveland-bashing entity than the Baltimore Sun castigated Grossi as single-handedly derailing poor misunderstood Art Modell's attempt to get to the Hall of Fame. A large part of it undoubtedly had to do with the offense taken at Modell having his flunkies overtly campaign for his induction, but the Sun hasn't had a good football boogeyman since Jack Kent Cooke died, so Grossi provided a decent fill-in.
While Grossi isn't at the top of my favorite columnists list - that spot belongs to Mike McLain because he bought me a beer once - the old adage "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" applies here. I'll never call him "Coach" again.
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I predict that the Texans will pick Jeremy McKinney from the Browns and Tony Boselli from the Jags in the upcoming expansion draft. I would. The fact that the Browns got Ben Cavil at OG during our expansion draft tells you all you need to know about the difference between 2002 and 1999. The harder road will make it that much sweeter when the Lombardi finally comes home.