Levine: Loyalty Should Be a Two-Way Street

Les Levine offers his thoughts on Courtney Brown's decision to leave Cleveland, as well as the acquisition of Reuben Droughns from the Denver Broncos.

In an ideal world, it would be nice if loyalty worked both ways in sports.  There are numerous examples of players and owners showing a lack of it.  In the minds of Cleveland sports fans, Carlos Boozer will always be the poster boy for that, while organizations aren't innocent of failing to honor verbal commitments.  In fact, the whole structure of salaries in the NFL is weighted toward the owners as far as multi-year contracts are concerned.  Everyone knows that a four-year deal is really four separate one-year deals, which is why the guaranteed signing bonus has become such a major factor in structuring contracts.

Knowing all of this, the latest saga in the career of Courtney Brown still bothers me.   Unlike Gerard Warren, William Green, Anthony Henry and Kelly Holcomb, I believe the Browns sincerely wanted to work out a deal with the one-time first pick in the draft.  By all accounts, Brown has been paid between $25-30 million by the team since he came out of Penn State, and, despite a variety of injuries, he hadn't done too many memorable things on the field.

I am sure that Brown's feelings were hurt when the Browns didn't (and couldn't) pick up the roster bonus, but it is unthinkable that he didn't understand.  For starters, there is no guarantee that he is healthy, or will be by the time the season starts.  Secondly, he must know the reality of the economics of the game, which would allow the Browns to allocate money to other needs.  And last, but not least, the offers from other teams, including Denver's, which he finally accepted, reportedly were not substantially more than what the Browns offered.

Courtney Brown, and his agent, undoubtedly, felt ‘disrespected' by the new Browns office.  I think it is the other way around.  Not only did Courtney ‘disrespect' the Browns, he did it to the fans, too.  Isn't it ironic that of all of the perceived ‘first round busts' of the Browns, Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown and William Green never felt the wrath of the Browns fans, but the one who really wanted to succeed here, Tim Couch, got the brunt of it?

The trade of DE Ebenezer Ekuban to Denver for RB Reuben Droughns was made official on Wednesday afternoon.  Ekuban clearly was former Defensive Coordinator Dave Campo's guy, and Romeo Crennel must think he is very replaceable.  

Droughns looks like the solution to the Browns running game.  Admittedly, Droughns was a career backup in Denver until last year, when he became the fifth running back in ten years to gain 1,000 or more for Denver.  He could be a product of the system.  On the other hand, the Browns haven't had a 1,000 yard runner since 1985, which is apparently also a product of the system.

I'm not sure of the fascination of Browns defensive players for the Denver Broncos.  But on the other hand, don't you think the Broncos owe us something for all of the heartache of the 1980's? 

If Droughns does here what he did in Denver, I'd be willing to forgive them for some of those heartbreaking losses.  After all, it has been 15 years since they last ripped our hearts out---but 20 years since we've had a 1,000 yard runner.


Now that the Browns have a new running back, if Phil Savage elects not to make a trade that would give up the third pick in the upcoming draft, I hope he will seriously consider wide receivers Braylon Edwards of Michigan or Mike Williams of USC.  History tells us that wide receivers shouldn't go that high, but since so many other needs have already been addressed, either of these picks make sense.  The addition of Kellen Winslow, Jr., and either of the above-mentioned receivers, along with a strengthened offensive line and running game (with Droughns) would give the Browns more weapons than they have had since the late 80's.

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

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