A Night of Family Fun
Last year the Browns held a Gridiron Preview on a Thursday night before their first exhibition game against the Titans in Nashville. There was an erasable board in the locker room that scripted the evening's practice schedule. The team arrived at the stadium at 5:15 p.m. and ended the practice at 9:00 p.m. The final line on the board read, "Autographs - Concert - Clowns - Fire Eaters - 3 Legged Pigs." Everything in between had the look of a team just going through the motions. That look continued at Tennessee on Saturday and then lingered with the 2004 Browns the entire season.
The night was definitely a preview of yet another forgettable season. The fans were able to get autographs of many players that were sent packing by Phil Savage. The signing session was a fiasco as children were squeezed out by over zealous fans who rushed to the front rows of the stadium as the players inked their names. The G. E. Smith Band was the highlight of the night just as they were most Sundays throughout the season. There were no clowns, just plenty of Browns, who proved to be clowns as the year transpired. It turned out that the head coach was the biggest Bozo of them all. The fire eaters must have feasted on the fireworks sometime during practice, leaving just a few scraps to reach the Cleveland sky. The show had a little glitter but no real bang. Little did I know the pyrotechnics would serve as a reflection of the Browns' disappointing 4-12 record. Even with binoculars I could not locate the three-legged pigs. But, I did manage to find Ross Verba on the sideline flexing his arms to show off his tattoos.
The 2005 Browns have an entirely new look. They have moved the Stadium practice to a Saturday night and a week before their first preseason game. The timing should translate to higher intensity on the field. They have also changed the name of the event to Family Fun Night. It will give fans an opportunity to greet the new team in good old Cleveland Browns fashion. The faithful will also get a chance to get acquainted with the new players and their numbers. There will be excitement over finally having an offensive line. There will be friendly arguments regarding who should start at running back. Many will get their first glimpse of Romeo Crennel's 3-4 masterpiece in the works. There will once again be a buzz in the air. A renewed hope of Super Bowl wins.
Hopefully the Browns will put on a good side show to go along with the play on the field. It may be hard to do, but they need to find a way to maximize the autograph session. When it is advertised that autographs will be part of the fun, every fan wants one. Maybe it would be a good idea to have every player sign one hundred programs beforehand, then pass them out to the fans as they enter the gates. That is only around seventeen signatures a day once training camp starts. They could also have every player positioned at tables in the concourse for an hour before practice starts. The fireworks show should cap off the evening. It needs to be spectacular and represent a celebration of the return of football to Cleveland. Everyone should leave the stadium salivating in anticipation of the home opener.
Edwards a Possible No Show
There is a lot of worry that Braylon Edwards may not be signed in time to report with the rookies on July 24. So what, he doesn't have to get his timing down with Charlie Frye and Lang Campbell. He will be fine if he gets in camp by the veteran's report date of July 29.
Colts Attempting to Buck Off Browns Backers
The Central Indiana Browns Backers Association (CIBBA) is planning a giant tailgate party at Military Park in Indianapolis on the morning of the game with the Colts. They had placed a group ticket order for 200 seats. Browns Backer Clubs across the nation also placed orders so they could make the trip to the Hoosier State. At last count 760 Browns fans, a number that is growing by the day, were planning on attending the game and the Browns Backers Bash. The Dayton Chapter alone was bringing 150 rabid fans to the contest.
The Cincinnati Club was told their order of 80 tickets would not be filled. Joey McGregor the group's President had this to say, "We were denied our ticket request. I know we were the first to get ours in. We faxed in our order the day they went on sale and were working directly with their ticket office."
The Colts have an abundance of fair weather fans. What do they expect they play in a dome? They have trouble filling the 57,890 RCA Dome seats for every game. It amazes me that they want a new stadium when a winning team can't sell out the old. Maybe Colts owner Jim Irsay would have been better off had he placed a call to Mayflower and packed his bags for L.A.
So in an effort to sell a five game season ticket package the club is holding back 1,000 tickets for the Browns game. They are hoping to boost season ticket sales by sweetening the deal with the inclusion of the Cleveland game. Soon after this decision was made, the Colts began calling the Presidents of each Browns Backer Club, notifying them that their orders have been cancelled.
In an effort to resolve this matter Phil Temple, the CIBBA President, has made several calls to the Colt's front office. He has even asked the Browns to get involved. To this date there has been no action by the Colts to make any tickets available to the Browns' faithful. I guess that may have something to do with the organization not wanting to hear more Dawg barking than horse whinnying.
Right now the only way a Browns fan can get a ticket for the September 25 tilt is to purchase the partial season ticket package for $195. But, Phil Temple will not go down without a fight. Here is what he told me this week, "The Colts are building a new stadium and Browns fans in the Indianapolis area will be paying increased taxes to build that stadium. I presume the new stadium will also be closed to Browns fans."
"This is an outrage and Browns fans will not be stopped! Although we do not have a way to source game tickets from the Colts, I have been assured by two licensed ticket brokers that there are plenty of tickets available on-line today and plenty will be available as we get closer to game day."
"Buying tickets from a broker or scalper is legal in Indianapolis and the closer we get, the less expensive those seats will be. In fact we will be inviting a licensed broker agency to visit our tailgate party. They will make sure all Browns fans are taken care of."
"Our Browns Backers Bash is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. followed by a march to the RCA Dome for the game. Many of our fan clubs have chartered buses and booked hotel rooms for this event. I have been the President of the Indianapolis Chapter for eighteen years and we have hosted several parties in the past. I have more conviction then ever to make this our best party. To the dismay of the Colts, we are going to march in mass to their dome and make as much noise as we can for our Browns!"
"The urgency for our local chapter is to keep our Browns Backers Bash alive! To do that, we must sell 500 party tickets at $20 each and they are available at our website at http://www.cibba.com. If we do not accomplish this in the next 2-3 weeks, the Bash will have to be cancelled and the Colts win."
Phil's message to all the fans who wanted to make the trip to Indianapolis and cheer the Browns to victory, "Please keep your plans to attend, purchase your party tickets in the next two weeks, and prepare to show the Indianapolis Colts that you cannot keep Cleveland Browns fans down!"