Les: Browns Back in Public Eye

Now that the Indians season is over, and the Cavs yet to start, the Browns have a window of opportunity to impress Cleveland sports fans. Plus, a chat with Bill Willis and some weapons return...

The quote that stands out so far in the Phil Savage Era involves the Cleveland sports fan---‘The woe is me attitude is not sound thinking'. Of course it is… Phil just hasn't been around here long enough.

Another Cleveland Indians season has come and gone, and the ending might have been every bit as heart-breaking as ‘The Drive'; ‘The Fumble'; Red Right 88; ‘The Move'; ‘The Shot'; as well as Jose Mesa's meltdown, which hasn't ever been named. But now it's time to move on, and while LeBron James and his new teammates have been in the headlines for several months now, there is a window of opportunity for the Browns to get back into the public's consciousness.

Before the Cavaliers open up their regular season, the Browns have four games to play, starting this Sunday at home against the Chicago Bears. In this stretch of games against the Bears, Ravens, Lions, and Texans, there could be two or three winnable games.

It is pretty well agreed that Cleveland is a football town over all else. But, perhaps fortunately, the Browns have been taking a back seat to the incredible stretch drive of the Indians, and are a month away from losing the headlines to the Cavaliers. Unlike the Indians, the start of the season does not having anything to do with future ticket sales, as the Browns are sold out for all practical purposes, and nothing they do during the season will change that.

Maybe it's good that the team is re-structuring itself outside of the public eye, but I doubt it. If this is, in fact, a football town first and foremost, it is not because of anything that has been accomplished in the past fifteen years or so, which includes three years of hiatus, and two wild card playoff appearances.

So, it is obvious that the Browns fans easily overlook the flaws and warts of the organization and the team on the field, and continue to buy tickets and express their love of the team in numerous ways.

Now in the seventh year since returning, the fans have been more than patient. I don't believe anyone would have thought that in the seventh year, the expansion team would be rebuilding for the third time. Not many pundits predicted more than five or six wins for this team, but if the Browns can get a couple of wins in the next four weeks, those predictions should go out the window.

This would be a good time for Romeo Crennel and Company to make some new friends.

I had the opportunity to meet Hall of Famer Bill Willis last week at the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame dinner. Willis, the first African-American player in the AAFC, played under Paul Brown at Ohio State, and then with the Browns from 1946-53. At the time, his playing weight was around 215, and he played both on offense and defense, but gained most of his success as a linebacker.

Imagine somebody at 215 trying to play the line or linebacker today.

He wore three rings to illustrate his successful career---Ohio State National Championship of 1942; NFL Championship of 1950; and Hall of Fame Enshrinement in 1977.

That's pretty impressive. But how about the accomplishments of a fellow Greater Cleveland Hall of Fame classmate? Desmond Howard is one of only three players to win the Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP Trophy.

When you think about all of the great players who never get to play on the biggest stage (Ernie Banks in baseball comes to mind immediately), look at what these men have accomplished. It would be hard to believe that any great athlete could set goals like that when they begin playing the game that they love. But these accomplishments stay with them their entire lives.

It is good to see that TE Aaron Shea will be back in action this week. Shea has been with the team since the second year of the new franchise, and has been hit with numerous injuries. His return, along with that of kick returner Josh Cribbs, could add some new wrinkles to the offense, which is sorely needed.

The Browns are coming off a bye week, after just three weeks of action. Other teams got a bye after just two games. The bye week is important for a variety of reasons, but it doesn't serve much of a purpose unless it comes somewhere between weeks seven and eleven. I'm afraid that after five or six more games, the Browns will be wishing they had a bye week to look forward to.

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeastern Ohio. E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com

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