Rich's Rant: News and Views

Rich Passan is back, with opinions on subjects that range from Winslow to Whizzinators. Here are Rich's takes on a number of Browns topics, including some thoughts on whether offensive tackle L.J. Shelton (pictured) would be a good fit in Cleveland...

News: The Browns try to win back fans by reaching out to the fans in order to get their seats back in the seats at Browns Stadium.

View: Browns CEO John Collins says he wants the team to be more accessible to fans. He wants to please them. He correctly senses the paying customers have become a disgruntled lot, especially after last season's collapse.

Yes, there is a long list for season tickets. No problem there.

Collins, however, worries that many season ticketholders don't show up on game day. They are upset. Upset that the Browns have become a National Football League laughingstock.

To lure back those upset fans, plans call for a weekly magazine featuring columns by Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel. (Wonder who's going to ghost-write for them.) Linking up with the Great Lakes Science Center and Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame on game days is a possibility. Building stronger bridges to corporations helps.

Collins, a non-football man, is taking a non-football approach to his grand plan to win back a fan base that has sprung a few leaks. He looks at it from a businessman's standpoint.

In the business world, that's fine. But in the eyes of the fans, the Browns are football team first, a business second.

Collins' grand plan is not going to work. One thing he fails to understand is that all only one thing will get the disgruntled fans back to Browns Stadium. It's the same thing that lured baseball fans back to Jacobs Field after years of failed promotions and futility.


The Browns can put out their pulp of pap for the fans all they want. That's not going to get them to Browns Stadium 10 times a year. Neither are agreements with the Rock Hall or Science Center. The corporate community will not turn its back on the Browns no matter what.

There's only one way to reach out to the fans and have the fans reach back. Concentrate on putting together a winning team and the rest will fall into place.

Nothing else will work.

News: The Arizona Cardinals release veteran offensive tackle L. J. Shelton.

View: A lot of Browns fans want to see Shelton in brown and orange. Why?

Granted, the Browns need good offensive tackles. But Shelton, only 29, is not one of them. The 6-6, 335-pounder is corpulent and lazy. Don't need anyone like that around here.

Shelton was cut recently by Dennis Green, a coach who knows a good football player when he sees one, particularly on offense. The Cardinals need all kinds of help on that side of the ball, so why would he cut the former first-rounder?

Simple. Shelton is not that good.

Four years remained on his contract that would pay him $3 million a year. That's relatively cheap for an offensive lineman. So money was not a factor.

When Green arrived in Arizona last season, Shelton was the starting left tackle. Reporting overweight to training camp did not endear him to his new coach.

Soon after the season started, Shelton was picking splinters out of his considerable butt. Injuries forced Green to stop the splinter-picking and the big guy was back in the lineup at right tackle.

Now if Shelton had the work ethic of his father, then maybe the Browns would be interested. Lonnie Shelton was a hard-working, overachieving power forward who played 10 seasons in the National Basketball Association with the New York Knicks, Seattle SuperSonics and Cavaliers.

He played here for three seasons during the World B. Free era, retiring after the 1985-86 season with the reputation of being a blue-collar guy who maximized his potential. He was primarily known for his rebounding, a skill that required hard work and determination.

If the younger Shelton had his daddy's work ethic, the Cardinals most likely would not have cut him.

News: Kellen Winslow Jr. continues his silence.

View: This has got to be killing the Browns' daredevil tight end. A guy who likes to talk a lot has been silenced. Muzzled.

There are those in Browns Nation who believe Winslow owes the Cleveland pro football public an explanation and an apology for his mind-numbing actions of a few weeks ago. They don't understand the deafening silence emanating from Berea.

Sooner or later, they say, he's got to step up and face the fans. The longer this goes on, the harder the task when he decides to explain away his stupidity.

That might prove more difficult than the comeback that lies ahead.

News: Minnesota Vikings running back Onterrio Smith might be suspended for one year by the NFL for missing a drug test. Missing a test automatically results in a positive result.

View: Let's see now. That's the same Onterrio Smith who was caught in the Twin Cities Airport mean carrying a Whizzinator, a device designed to help beat drug tests, and a vial of dried urine.  That didn't warrant some sort of punishment for the two-time drug offender?

Any idea what message that will send to other NFL miscreants who don't want to kick their habits? Whizzinators will become the rage around the league.

Gotta believe Ricky Williams has already put in his order.

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