NOTE 1: I could not decide what photo to use for this article, so please enjoy this photo of a monkey ringing a bell while wrapped in a red robe of some sort.
NOTE 2: If you are reading this article on Yahoo!, you will want to visit http://browns.scout.com to see the full version with hyperlinks and the picture of the monkey. Thank you.
If you focused on having some fun outside or other early Summer activities this weekend rather than hanging on the front page of BerniesInsiders.com or the Daily Newswire looking for Browns news you missed... well, frankly... not a whole lot.
For a team that has managed to keep itself in the headlines year-round, the weekend was oddly quiet here in Cleveland. The team worked out in secret, safe from the eyes of the Evil Media™, both Kellen Winslows kept their heads low, and Ross Verba practiced Hall of Fame induction speeches in front of a mirror. It was pretty dull, if the truth needs to be told.
That early Summer stupor will change over the next two days as the Browns have their full squad mini-camp, which is open to the media on Monday and Tuesday before it winds up on Wednesday with the braying hounds of the press locked out. We'll be frantically posting whatever we learn, and linking anything of value that shows up anywhere else.
After this mid-June spasm of news, however, things should get quiet again. Veterans will be released to take vacations, where they presumably will study playbooks in sterilized rooms stuffed with pillows and free of motorcycle equipment. The rookies will continue to work out in Cleveland, but will need to be signed before beginning training camp at the end of July.
The weekend, meanwhile, was pretty much a wash for the Browns in the PR department.
GOOD PR: The team conducted a big public relations photo op on Friday, as they gave away $300,000 to Cleveland high schools and put a bunch of high school and NFL players together on a dais. The event was heavily covered by the press, with politicians and Browns front office types offering up speeches and talking about the importance of high school football.
The combination of the way our schools are funded and the way that rich, middle-class, and poor people tend to live amongst others of their kind, apparently took its toll on these Cleveland school systems.
At the end of the day, the important thing is that Cleveland nine high schools will be playing football next year who otherwise wouldn't be. In my suburban middle-class neighborhood, football is taken for granted, and local folks get upset if the team has a .500 season. Perhaps that may not be the case forever.
Props to the Cleveland Browns Foundation - I'll save the cynicism for a another time.
On the newswire, Pat McManamon talked to some of the participants afterwards, and relays what they had to say.
BAD PR: On the PR downside were guilty pleas offered in US District Court by the Browns now ex-Ticket Manager John Tironi and the President of ticket broker Amazing Tickets, Mark Klang. The two pleaded guilty to engaging in a scam which sent Browns tickets to Klang's operation rather than getting them to fans on the team's ticket waiting list.
Both defendants could receive as much as five years in jail for the highly profitable scheme.
I would suggest that Tironi and Klang's punishment would be more effective if served in the company of the same noxious Steeler and Ratbird fans who have been littering my section of Cleveland Browns Stadium since 1999. Perhaps having to listen continuously to such witty bon mots as "The Browns suck!", "Go Steelers!", "Ravens Rock!" and "Hey, that's not cool! Stop burning my hat!" would provide a valuable rehabilitative experience.
I had often wondered how the row in front of mine was always seemingly infested with different Steeler fans each year or how so many Ratbird fans got past security. Now, perhaps, part of the answer reveals itself.
Tragically, I still have the radio commercials that Amazing Tickets used to run on a local sports radio station banging through my head this morning. "Amaaaaaaaaaazing Tickets!" the morning or afternoon sports talkers would say. Ugh. I feel sort of scummy just remembering it. Ick.
If you want tickets, and prefer the glorious colors of Brown and Orange to less-palatable combinations, drop into our Ticket and Tape Exchange on the message forums first, before you deal with the dirtbags. We try, at least, to get tickets exchanged between Browns fans.
And so it goes, for another weekend of off-season Browns news. Stay tuned to BerniesInsiders.com for the latest from today's mini-camp.