Memo to the 216 Crew: Ain't no Mekhi Phifer

Another new contributor, Mansfield Lucas, ponders the future of a "boi comin' straight outta Willard". Mansfield has also written for our homeboy Swerb, and will be contributing his unique perspective several times monthly for the OBR.


I remember the first time Charlie Frye draft talk started to warm up. Someone posted in PF that after hearing his Senior Bowl interview, they didn't want him. Said he sounded like a no brained hoodlum, ‘cept they didn't use the word "hoodlum". They used a derogatory word intended to disparage Caucasians who respect hip-hop culture rather than live their lives as red necks or suburbanites, what some might refer to as the W-bomb. As in, fuh shizzle, muh wizzle. The boi was comin' straight outta Willard.

Since then, Charlie hasn't disappointed: almost shaved head, underdog mentality, and limited physical talent that pushed his draft day slot down near the close of day one despite being Senior Bowl MVP. Bentley drivin', Armani suit wearing, bonus baby holdout, thy name is not Charles. He's B Rabbit living in the trailer park with his hot, messed up mom. The underdog's underdog. He shaves by himself in front of the mirror wondering what it all holds, what it all means, not on national TV with The Gap Toothed One. He's real, not The Appalachian Elvis.

Welcome to C-town, C Frye.

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?

We know what Charlie did last year. He started off making some big time plays from the gut, flashing the kind of instincts we hoped for from Garcia, only to get whining and Bad News Bears' play instead. He also sputtered at the helm of a so-so offense when Droughns was wearing down. His play reflected who he was: a confused raw rookie not used to the Sunday level of play rushed into service. Dilfer's injuries lingered and Charlie was named the starter. The Browns were his crew when the Pittsburgh Steelers rolled into town on The Night Before Christmas.

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin'
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
He's chokin', how everybody's jokin' now
The clock's run out, time's up over, bloah!
Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked…

What is now known in TCE ™ lore as "The Eve of Destruction" was arguably the most embarrassing day in over 50 seasons of Franchise History. The entire team was inept and the white flag run up early no matter what the players admit. Like the rest of the team, Frye was abysmal. He was harassed and physically punished. As quarterback, he represented a group of men that was beat down and humiliated in their own house, therefore humiliating us. Visions of a young Kosar became replaced with the reality of yet another Zeier, Couch, Holcomb and Garcia that day.

He won't have it , he knows his whole back's to these ropes
It don't matter, he's dope
He knows that, but he's broke
He's so stagnant that he knows
When he goes back to his mobile home, that's when it's
Back to the lab again yo
This whole rap shit
He better go capture this moment and hope it don't pass him….

Charlie had a nice bounce back game against the hated Rats and outplayed the hand picked protégé of the Soopergenius himself.

Now it is the off-season. We read that Charlie is hard at work, trying to get stronger, learn more, and take a death grip hold on the leadership of the team. He's got to get his arm stronger to use more of the field. Rabbit's got to get more physical to take the beat down abuse from The Free World, errrr, the now, spit, World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

I was playin' in the beginnin', the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage
But I kept rhymin' and stepwritin' the next cypher
Best believe somebody's payin' the pied piper.
I've got to formulate a plot fore I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only mothaf**kin option, failure's not
Mom, I love you, but this trailer's got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem's lot
So here I go is my shot.
Feet fail me not cuz maybe the only opportunity that I got…

We all know that the Browns have more holes than baby swiss. The front seven on D has two, maybe three, legitimate NFL starters to play the 3 - 4. The O Line has little talent, and what little is there is banged up or on its' last legs. The skilled players are a potentially fantastic group that can't stay in one piece. The D backs are potentially solid if the kid safeties have any game, but they lack playmakers for now.

If Phil uses the cap wisely and lands a very good nose tackle, a solid end to pair with a re-signed Roye, and an impact linebacker or two, only some health and another offensive lineman or two is needed for this club to become a division threat if RAC can get it done. This is all doable in one off-season with the Browns' resources. All that would be missing is a bona fide, quality, NFL quarterback. Is it possible to overstate the weight that Frye carries or the importance of how he uses this off-season, and what it means to the Browns?    

Even in this day and age of talent so devoid and cog reliant at the glamour position that the two Jakes pass for penultimate game starters, arguably the hardest piece of the puzzle to assemble remains the quarterback. Is it possible to overstate the strategic advantage this franchise will have if it stumbled upon a bona fide quality NFL quarterback in round three? Is it possible to overstate the damage done to the Savage – Crennel era if the team spends two or three seasons floundering trying to discover if Rabbit has game or is a buster, only to have to start over with a kid or retread if he chokes?

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo…

Sometime this fall, Charlie is gonna take the C 11 216 Crue back up against The Free World. He's going to stand under center and look into the eyes of Porter, Troy and Farrior in front of 70,000 in person and maybe millions on the tube.

Will he represent and call out Porter as Clarence, or choke and get booed out the battle?

That single moment in time will go a long way toward defining the fate of the Browns for the next half decade, and whether Rabbit will be the next Kosar or the next assistant coach at the local high school near Willard. You cannot overestimate the moment. Work hard this off-season Rabbit, while Ben hits his version of the banquet circuit: getting obliterated on cheap liquor with skanks in basements, and gets fitted for his ring. Come fall, you best be ready to rumble, young man, rumble.  



Sometimes intelligent, sometimes whack, sometimes thought provoking, sometimes inspiring questions of just what did his parents do to him, anyway? Grammatically unsound but always readable. Mansfield's takes are as satisfying as a POC in a 35 degree can on a hot day at a Lake Erie Beach in Euclid on a day without the dead shad. You can almost hear Denny Sanders spinning the tunes in the background and the smell of burning driftwood fires. Mansfield has a PhD in the TCE (The Cleveland Experience, as in sports' experience) , a concept that no doubt frequently arises.

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