Where should the Browns hold training camp? Since 1980 I have had at least a four-hour drive to reach the site of the Browns training camp. I currently have a five-hour drive to Berea. I have made it to summer practice almost every year since 1980. So you would think that it doesn't matter to me where the Browns decide to train. Well it does. I look forward to coming to the Cleveland area every year in late summer to catch my first glimpse of those orange helmets. It is a great time for Mrs. G and I to visit family and friends. We also catch the Tribe if they are in town.
The last time I checked my address book I only have a second cousin living in Columbus and no friends. The Columbus Clippers are the only baseball team in town and they are the farm team of the hated Yankees. Even though Columbus presents a shorter trip for us, it would not feel the same.
The Browns need to keep training camp in the Cleveland area. Spending a day in the sun watching the team develop is a tradition that many fans look forward to. In today's economy it is unaffordable for many families to attend a Browns game. So training camp may be the only up close and personal look they get of their beloved Cleveland Browns. Money has tarnished the luster of professional sports in many ways. Hopefully, Mr. Lerner has the good sense not to spoil something so good.
Which brings me to the next topic. The Browns are raising ticket prices in 2005. We are soon getting to the point where the only people that will be able to afford tickets to an NFL game are the rich and famous. The Dawg Pound pack just won't look the same wearing all those Armani suits.
This week WOIO, Cleveland's CBS 19, announced a three-year deal to cover the Browns exclusively with year round programming. My thought on exclusive programming is that not much real reporting is done in fear of upsetting the source. But, I trust Browns fans will continue to check with all media sources and form their own opinion on the Browns current state of affairs.
Not that the new programming format is a bad thing. Browns fans cannot get enough coverage of their team. So in that regard the media deal is a welcomed sight to the brown and orange faithful. The team also has a large fan base outside the WOIO viewing area. Towns all across America have a population of loyal Browns fans. It's too bad that contracts with local CBS affiliates in their towns prevent DirecTV from expanding their NFL package to include WOIO's programming on the Browns.
The first Browns game that I attended was in 1965, a 27-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. I remember playing catch in the backyard with my father. I pretended to be either Paul Warfield or Gary Collins with every pass. I watched my first training camp at Hiram College. It was in those years that I was born into the Cleveland Browns' family of fans. Since 1965 the Browns have selected thirty-four players in the first round of the NFL Draft and three players in the first round of the Supplemental Draft.
I have seen many first round picks go on to have great careers in a Cleveland Browns' uniform. But no year can top 1978 when the Browns had two picks in the first round and chose Clay Matthews and Ozzie Newsome.
There have been many players taken by the Browns over the past forty years in the first round that have been disappointments. The biggest disappointment for me was Don Rogers. He could have been a great player. He was the hardest hitting Browns player I ever saw. Unfortunately I was only able to watch him play for two years before a cocaine overdose took his life.
Browns in Europe
The Browns allocated seven players to NFL Europe. Here is a little info to help track these players:
Jamal Brooks LB Berlin Thunder #55
Brooks is penciled in as the Thunder's starting outside linebacker. Berlin is playing a 4-3 defense. They even opened the first game in a 4-2-5. Since the Browns will use a 3-4 defense in 2005, Brooks is not gaining the experience the Browns hoped for when they allocated him to Europe. But the Browns need linebackers so keep an eye on him.
Lew Dawson T Cologne Centurions #72
Dawson is on injured reserve. It would have been nice to see him in action since the Browns are so thin at the position.
C. J. Jones WR Cologne Centurions #80
Jones is starting for the Centurions and also is a return guy. The Browns are thin at receivers in 2005. He needs to shine to catch a spot on the 2005 Browns' roster.
Michael Grant SS Frankfurt Galaxy #40
Grant is starting at strong safety for the Galaxy. The Browns are also thin at safety in 2005. Maybe Grant can be the next "Minister of Defense?"
Sterling Harris T Frankfurt Galaxy #75
Ben Miller FB Hamburg Sea Devils #40
Miller is the only healthy full-back on the Sea Devils' roster. Steelers' allocation Travis Wilson the other full-back on the team is on injured reserve. Hamburg uses a single back set the majority of offensive plays. It will be good to see him get any actual game reps. He is one of those long shot players that everyone roots for.
Defensive back James Boyd who was selected by the Amsterdam Admirals did not make the team. There is nothing more to say.
The dreaded asterisk
I received a certified letter the other day from Joe's Pizzeria located in my hometown. The letter was sent to inform me that they were placing an asterisk next to my 1974 record for eating the most pizza in three minutes. The letter stated they had proof that I was under the influence of an appetite inducing drug the night the record was set. I could probably push the issue after all it was ths the 70s. I won't fight it. I don't want to have to buy a suit for a Congressional Hearing.