By the time you read this either Bloody Thursday might be upon us, or some kind of collective bargaining agreement has been reached between NFL players and owners. If Bloody Thursday has arrived and some big-name players---who still can play up to their reputations---have been released, there will be many Browns fans who think this would be a good thing.
After all the Browns have worked themselves into an excellent salary cap position and would be one of the teams in the best position to improve themselves if the free agent market gets flooded. But let's forget the fan allegiance to the Browns---this would not be good for the NFL. If Bloody Thursday takes place all of the teams that have spent judiciously and have been in position to be contenders will be close to be heading back to Square One.
Fans don't understand the inner workings of the labor negotiations, and the majority of them would side with management because the public perception is that the players are the greedy ones. There are greedy ones on both sides of this issue, and it is hard to believe that both sides would give up the billions of dollars involved. But the National Hockey League proved that wealth does not necessarily equate to smarts. Both sides let an entire season be canceled, and everyone was a loser. It will take awhile for the public to totally accept the sport again.
That is not to say that a similar thing would happen to the NFL. But a huge public relations disaster looms. Let's take the Browns, for example. Since the return of the franchise in 1999, there have been very players that the fans can relate to. You would think that Number One draft choices would be in that group, but injuries or poor choices wouldn't allow that to happen. The Browns, who used to have popular and recognizable players don't have that anymore. That would be multiplied, league-wide, if wholesale free agency comes to be.
Think about it. If you paraded the 53-man roster around Public Square, what is the over/under on the amount of players that the average fan would recognize today? Other than the quarterbacks, ten might be a pretty high number. Which names are on the jerseys being worn at games or around town? My educated guess is that you will see more names from the teams of the ‘80's than the most recent teams when you walk around Cleveland Browns Stadium. There is something wrong with that, and a revolving door wouldn't make it better.
Even though the Browns would benefit from Bloody Thursday in the short run, they, and the rest of the NFL would be the losers in the long run.
This corner received a lot of criticism from Vince Young fans when it was suggested that he was making a financial mistake by not taking part in drills at the combine in Indianapolis. Now the word is out on the results of his Wonderlic test, and that is totally unfair, whether the leak is correct or not. He sure didn't look mentally-challenged when he beat Ohio State and Southern Cal.
But the questions remain about his throwing motion and his ability to be successful when he is not working out of the Shotgun. That would concern me more than the alleged scores on the test. I realize it only takes one team to take a chance on him, but it appears that he has dropped to the third quarterback slot in this draft. And if that is the case, it could cost him millions on his first contract. He could possibly have avoided that if he set the record straight in Indianapolis. On the other hand, maybe he wasn't confident enough in his ability to be able to do that.
Some people have challenged the validity and success ratio of using the intelligence test. But this is not new. The use of intelligence tests for NFL players goes back to the days of Paul Brown. There are numerous examples of players who were traded from the Browns, going back to the All American Conference, because the head coach wasn't satisfied with the test results or with certain social skills, which included table manners, or lack thereof.
Brown was known to unload, or suspend, players who got into trouble. But it was also believed that he looked the other way if the player had his best days ahead of him. Back in the days of training camp at Hiram, several players got involved in an incident that apparently was fueled by alcohol. Brown made an example of one player by trading him the next day, while leaving the others alone. Common knowledge among those who followed the team then was that the trade was in the works for several weeks, but the timing allowed Brown to make an impression on the other team members who were happy to stay with the Cleveland Browns.
|Les Levine is the host of 'More Sports & Les Levine', which can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeast Ohio. He is also the lead Sunday columnist in the Lake County News-Herald and Lorain Journal. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or www.leslevine.com|