Newswire: The Quest for Cash

Verba leaves town for it. The Browns give a pile of it away.


Here are some links to news stories, as well as the usual low guttural moans. Today, this blather is brought to you courtesy of an over-heated webmaster, who lacks both an operational central air conditioner and cable internet connection. Getting either repaired in the early days of summer here in Lake County is about as easy as finding an NFL player who says "it's not about the money" without snickering.

Unless folks on Yahoo! like reading my daily complaints sans the wonderful context that hyperlinks provide, you'll want to visit this article at  

Barring some post-partum obnoxiousness, today marks the happily-anticipated end of the Ross Verba newswire era.

The financially-challenged left tackle left town yesterday, singing some tunes which included all your favorite oldies of days gone by. After leading off with a chorus of "I'm a smart businessman (PD)", Verba segued smartly into the old familiar strains of "If I don't get what I want, I'll walk away from the game". Not to be outdone, Phil Savage later crooned "We felt this decision was in the best interest of both the Browns and Ross (ABJ)".

The Beacon-Journal's Terry Pluto also talks to Doug Dieken, who doesn't seem unhappy to see Verba take his rendition of "I, me, mine" on the road.

The Browns tried to take the attention off of Verba by rolling out L.J. Shelton and Marcus Spears to the local press, who got comfortable talking to the newest Browns offering the usual words of optimism to kick off their tenure here.

Today's big press play will be the donation that the Browns are making to Cleveland Public Schools, which will allow nine local football teams to get through another year of budget cuts. The announcement comes four months after the Indians made a similar gesture, enabling some local schools to continue baseball and softball programs.

I'm as happy as anyone to see that these young men and women get the opportunity to play sports as the Cleveland Public Schools attempt to keep their collective heads above water. The kids get a chance to play, the Browns get good publicity.

Carmen Policy anointed me a "singular source of complaint" back in 1999, though, so I guess it's my duty to point out a couple of things that are troubling me a little.

The first is, well, those big stadiums in downtown Cleveland. Jacobs Field and Cleveland Browns Stadium are excellent ballparks, built mostly at the city's expense using bonds and a "sin tax" on beer and cigarettes. They are billion-dollar concrete testaments to the optimism of the 1990s.

I don't know enough about civic financial machinations to say whether there's a relationship between these massive expenditures the current troubles of the city schools, but it does seem like a big pipeline of cash was spent for the benefit of these two ballclubs, and that may be why I'm not as complimentary as I should be to see them pass some of it back.

The other issue, I guess, is that the cost of season tickets went up - a non-trivial expense in my household. So, if you're taking more money from me and then handing it out to others, it's almost like "taxation without representation".

Of course, I could always walk away from my season tickets if I don't like it. Plus, it's better than watching the team plow my season ticket money into developing media offerings that compete directly with the way I earn my living.

It's tough to argue against anything that gives those kids the same chance to play football as (most) kids out in the suburbs. Whenever NFL clubs and money mix, though, there's always that annoying little red flag that goes up in my mind. Maybe yours, too.

Perhaps that's part of the long-term price that the NFL has to pay for 1995.

Perhaps it's because we had to watch as palatial stadiums were extorted from American cities from 1996-98 thanks to the "I'll move to Cleveland" bargaining chip.

Perhaps it's seeing an average player demand tens of millions while the Cleveland schools scramble for cash.

All in another day's Daily Newswire.

- BDMc

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