" (We) want to see the NFL provide Cleveland with an expansion team, with local owners (including partial fan ownership). We would prefer an ownership team with includes Bernie Kosar in a critical role."
Yeah, that was me. I wrote the above words back in 1996, under the alias "Watchdawg", on a website I called "Greedwatch". You can still find the web page, courtesy of archive.org, if you dig through the internet archives long enough.
I had no idea back then that I would get a call from that Bernie himself less than five years later, asking me to participate in a joint venture that eventually came to be called "Bernie's Insiders". Naturally, like any Browns fan, the opportunity to work with former Browns quarterback was simply too good to pass up.
It's been a great ride for four years, and all of us here owe a tremendous debt to Bernie and his brother Brian.
Speaking for myself, I owe Bernie and the Kosar family a great deal.
During the summer of 2001, I had made the determination to shut down our Browns website, BrownsTNG.com, because the drain of time and money had simply reached a point where it was hurting my family. I was starting a new job, and with the information technology profession returning to earth after the dot.com era, I felt I needed to focus solely on my new career.
All of that changed when Jim Heckman, founder of Scout Media, called me to set up a discussion.
Thanks to Bernie and his invitation to join the Scout.com network, we are now at a point where the website has spawned a magazine (along with a new radio show) and employs a large group of Browns writers and experts. More importantly, the website has continued to grow as a place where fans and friends can gather 365 days a year to share their passion for the Cleveland Browns. Personally, I now spend my days doing what I love, which is just about all anyone could hope for.
While the past four years have been great, it's now time for us to return the favor to Bernie and our friends from Boardman by pulling #19's name down off the website and magazine.
The words at the top of this article explain the reason why.
Like a lot of fans, the gang here would like to see Bernie join the parade of Browns alumni who have re-joined the team in the past year, as they have responded to the team's new administration and their embrace of former players and the team's history.
Seeing former players like Jim Brown, Paul Warfield, and others around the Berea facility this summer has been a welcome change. Things are very different now, and we would like to see Bernie be part of this new Browns era.
Speaking frankly, we have no idea what the future holds for Bernie and the Cleveland Browns organization. One thing that's clear, however, is that it will be a lot easier for them to work together without Bernie's name tied to a group of fiercely independent and occasionally irreverent fans and Browns writers.
Just as importantly, we would have difficulty writing with our much-needed objectivity if we were tied so closely with a former player who was part of the organization.
It's not without some nervousness and sadness that we've decided to go into the future with a new identity. I've greatly enjoyed the past four years, and getting to know the Kosar family. They have never been anything but welcoming and kind to myself, my family, and everyone associated with this website. Getting to know them and work with them has been one of the most positive experiences of my life.
At the same time, I view changing our name as an opportunity to embrace the past.
While some of the rebelliousness of 1995 is less relevant a decade later, the irreverence that accompanied site features such as "The AFC North Truthcenter" is needed now more than ever. After all, we find ourselves in a world where Brian Billick writes business books with a straight face, Steeler fans ram peanuts up their nose without appropriate mainstream media coverage, and where the Bengals, well, continue to exist.
Something must be done, and providing in-depth coverage of the ridiculous is a bit easier when one isn't concerned with besmirching the good name of a local hero.
Back in 1999 I kicked off BrownsTNG.com in the hopes of finding friends to talk Browns with. Also, quite frankly, the pursuit of free beer was central to the enterprise.
Six years later, this website and magazine is probably the last major bastion of Cleveland Browns coverage beholden only to fans. We are fans, will continue to be fans, and spend our days talking with fans.
With that in mind, I am going to ask the fans who have supported us via their subscriptions to help us decide what to call ourselves next. We have put a poll in our Subscriber's Lounge with several proposed names for the website and magazine. Just like the Browns began a new era of football in the 1940s by allowing fans to select the name of the team, we will start our new era with fans selecting the name of the site.
Regardless of what this place is called, we owe it to the people who have supported us with their hard-earned subscription money to continue to provide the best objective coverage and analysis of the team, while seeking to entertain and perhaps lure out a chuckle or two. With your help, and thanks to the friendship of Bernie Kosar and his family, we hope to do that for many years to come.