The following article was written and published just moments before the news broke that Mo Carthon had been fired. Your friendly webdork is too lazy to update it, but realizes that your personal gloom may have been brightened somewhat by the evening's news. That assumes you are not Maurice Carthon, whose evening probably was more similar to the one described below. The most important thing displayed by the timing of the news is the utter contempt obviously held by the organization for the time I spend writing this stuff. The challenge mentioned at the bottom of the article is still open.
A lot of fans are telling me that they're not angry about the Cleveland Browns.
They don't say that because they have rationally concluded that there's nothing to be angry about. What they're doing is offering their numbness as the ultimate condemnation of the organization.
They notice the difference from the old days, when a loss made them upset for days, and remark on it, surprised at their own behavior.
I am feeling another emotion right now. Perhaps you can relate to it.
What I feel now is an unyielding sense of gloom. I am in that dark fog that envelops when it seems that there is no hope.
It's a "what do we do now" feeling that things are on an irreversible spiral downward which will make us all, permanently, worse off. It's from that place that I wrote last night, perhaps unfairly, condemning Randy Lerner. I'm writing from it again now, which is risky.
A lot of fans can avoid this feeling. They simply switch the team off. They move on, looking on their TV schedule for the next Cavaliers game. The good news is that they'll be back when the team wins.
Maybe you're like me. I'm a lifer. I'm stuck here for a while.
* * *
It's now time for Fortress Berea.
We've seen it all before. The players stop talking, the locker room empties, the fingers start pointing quietly. The team under fire hunkers down in one corner and the media tries to poke at it until something happens.
The team tries to keep the disagreements quiet. It tries to convince the fans that everything is fine. It never works.
My idea was to open things up more. Open practices. Let the media see the coaches working with the players and take that to their readers. More honesty, more openness, less secrecy. Avoid the Fortress Berea mentality.
My idea is stupid. My idea is insane. That's not how the NFL works.
Things are already on auto-pilot. We're just ticking down on the clock with another ten weeks of watching for a nugget of truth, or for a player to finally speak his mind. Three months of trial balloons. The coaching staff never trusted or spoke to the press to begin with, they won't start now when jobs may be on the line.
Trench warfare has started, but the conflict was lost during the bye week.
* * *
The more I was promoted in my former career, the less patient I became with questions without answers.
As you can tell, I was pretty much a complete twit. Still am.
Still, there was the one thing that drove me crazy and, if you were unlucky enough to be on my staff, it was the one sure way to get a bad review.
The act that irritated me more than another other is when someone came to me and simply dropped a problem on my desk, without any thought as to potential solutions. No options, nothing. Just walking in the door and dropping a problem on my desk like a dirty moss-covered log.*
I mention this because that's all I've seen today.
Look, I'm a member of the media. I've got a card from the Pro Football Writers Association that says so.
But today I've been a reader, not a writer. I read every single editorial written about the Browns today, every blog I could find.
What's driving me nuts are the editorials... the folks who are paid to opine... the pros.
They're simply telling Browns fans that the situation is horrible. Editorial after editorial coming up with innovative ways to say the team stinks. Disparaging remarks in luxurious prose, offering no ideas. Pathos and hindsight sold by the pound. Even some of the blogs are doing it.
Members of the mainstream and underground media - I know I've been guilty of it too, but it's easy, it's way too easy. I expect more from professionals or from bloggers who want an audience.
Don't just echo back my own misery. Tell me how to fix it. Give me some hope that there's a way out.
Here's a challenge for the writers, the bloggers, the message board posters:
You're in charge of the Cleveland Browns. Randy Lerner just sold you the team for a nickel or, if you prefer, for that bottle of Sam Adams Summer Lager that you've been saving. You know, something of value so it's a fair exchange.
What would you do, starting today, to make things better? Tell me how to fix this thing, on the field and for the fans. Tell me how to make this team be what it was again, how to move into the future, and how to bring the fans back.
Don't write and tell me to fire this guy or fire that guy. Tearing things down is easy, building them up is hard.
"Fire Carthon" is not a plan. You need a better replacement, who you can actually get, right now.
"Send all these bums to the bottom of the Atlantic" is not a plan, and it makes no logistical sense with Lake Erie so close by.
No, give me something with meat to it. Give me a plan.
I've been telling you mine, in drips and drabs, but I'm a guy who decided to start up a business which is intimately tied to the on-field success of the Cleveland Browns. I'm obviously clueless.
You send me a plan, and I'll put mine on paper. My email address is at the bottom of this article. If your plan is good enough, I'll let it run on the front page and send it up to Fox Sports.
Maybe someone who can make a change will read it. At least it will maybe help us escape the gloom for a few hours.
* Try coming up with your own analogy at home, without the few restrictions of taste self-imposed by the publisher of the site. You can do better. It's fun!
Barry McBride is publisher of The Orange and Brown Report. He began publishing football-related commentary as a hobby in 1996 with a website protesting the move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. In 2001, he established the OBR, originally named Bernie's Insiders. Barry would be happy to receive your questions or comments via email at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this article are his and his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of other writers or staff of the Orange and Brown Report.