Doc Gonzo: Idylls of the Kingmaker

This morning, the good doctor turns his somewhat blurry but inexplicably perceptive gaze onto the Browns activity in free agency. Most likely, he sees two free agencies, but then blinks and focuses a bit and it coalesces back into one. But that's the subject for another column.

The Cleveland Browns are going to the Super Bowl.

Maybe not this season, but soon. Very soon.

And when the Lombardi Trophy is hoisted above a delirious mob of barking fans in Public Square, we can look back to March 2006 as one of the significant steps on that long, torturous road.

The Ides of March, for once, herald goodwill instead of the usual gloom that settles over Cleveland.

Excuse my unbridled optimism.

The Browns have signed perhaps the best young offensive lineman in football. They inked a pretty good left tackle, who's also young. And they brought home wide receiver Joe Jurevicius. Adding mammoth veteran tackle Ted Washington almost makes me blush. And to prove the team has a humanitarian bent, it rescued local son Dave Zastudil from the moral slum and spiritual ghetto of squalid Baltimore.

It's an embarrassment of free-agent riches. Finally. All five signings improved an already up-and-coming team.

Mix the news from the past few days with the recent decisions to sign Reuben Droughns, Andra Davis and Orpheus Roye to long-term deals, and you have empirical evidence that the Cleveland Browns are doing the right thing for the first time since about 1985.

This isn't like Christmas for fans. It's Hanukkah. Instead of a single day of presents, there are many. I know I'm not alone when I say my pulse will quicken as I log onto The tomorrow morning. What transpired overnight in the smoke-filled rooms at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.? Who have we signed now? Who's visiting? What juicy tidbits did our own Pepys, Lane Adkins, glean for us?

Last year, the front office impressed me by addressing the team's glaring weakness. Thus far in 2006, I'm dazzled.

The mandarin-like palace machinations and maneuvers by Phil Savage are worthy of a Richelieu, Talleyrand or Bismarck. He strikes with frightening efficiency and is willing to damage other teams in his pursuit of talent. It's that sort of boot-on-the-neck attitude Cleveland needs — Jacobin football, if you will.

We're certainly thankful for the visions of LeCharles Bentley mowing down helpless Steeler linebackers, but there is something else for which to be appreciative: Peace.

The NFL and its union avoided, at the third 11th-hour, the sort of labor strife that crippled baseball, hockey and basketball. And the harmony among the rich and ever richer, for once, bodes well for the common fan. Instead of the grotesque spectacle of moneyed gentry bickering in lieu of playing — remember Boomer Esiason crying during the 1987 strike? — we'll get to enjoy the fruits of Phil Savage's Jesuit-like football genius.

Now allow me to publicly urinate on this love-fest.

A skeptic is simply cynic after a shave and bath. Being that I've neither shaved nor showered in 12 hours, I'll allow myself a moment of pessimism: How long before our free agents are crippled by injury? Mini-camp? Training camp? Preseason?

If only it were possible to just start the season without camps and reduce the risk of catastrophic injury, the sort that always seem to occur prior to the games that matter.

But, I digress. This is a time for trumpets, indeed.


Former Ohio newspaper reporter and editor Bill Shea writes the Doc Gonzo column, sesquipedalia verba, each week during the regular season for The OBR. His uncensored and, frankly, terrifyingly stupid blog can be read at Contact him at


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