Doc Gonzo: Look Back in Anger

The good doctor is a tad nonplussed about what has happened with his favorite team. Nonplussed! All I can say is... the Browns better watch for Doc if they lose to the Jets today. More perspective from long-time fans of the franchise...

Where does one even begin?

At this point, I'm repeating that I'm repeating that I write the same column over and over: The Cleveland Browns are not a very good football team. In fact, they look rather pathetic. And the people in charge of the franchise aren't qualified to lead a troop of Cub Scouts to the local Piggly Wiggly.

Blah, blah, blah.

We've heard it all before. Butch Davis, Chris Palmer, Dwight Clark, Carmen Policy … all the ghosts of seasons past, with Maurice Carthon now among their dubious ranks and Romeo Crennel on deck.

Mo Carthon apparently wasn't just a bonehead, but a prick, too. Now, that he's "resigned" in the Soviet style that's de rigueur in Berea, there's a faint tick of optimism.

It's absolutely grotesque and inexcusable that it took someone's firing to wring an ounce of excitement and optimism out of the Browns.

And that optimism most certainly will be squandered today by a loss to the Jets. Who are they going to fire after losing to the Jets to regain fan interest?

It's tiresome. The Jets were supposed to suck this season, but instead it's the Browns that have stupefied the league, with only the hapless Oakland Raiders playing Squiggy to our Lenny.

Let's talk about something juicy instead. Let's talk about Matt Leinart, the pretty-boy wunderkind quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals who became a father this week. Seems the gossip rags say he dumped the mother, ex-girlfriend Brynn Cameron, a 5-10 USC basketball player, a while back for vapid media whore Paris Hilton.

That's the sort of dirt that interests me more than the absurd nonsense happening on the south shore of Lake Erie. How sad is that? I'm reduced to the pro football's version of yellow journalism to maintain my interest in the NFL.

Of course, you'll never get the good dirt from overly sterile, overly slick, unentertaining NFL Network and its chief shill/mouthpiece Rich Eisen.

Instead, there might be a 10-second speculation on whatever mystery condition is ailing Ryan Tucker. This is the Cleveland Browns we're talking about, so it's likely a staph infection or something truly exotic, like Ebola. Or maybe one of those ear critters from "Wrath of Khan."

Truth is, this losing has sapped a lot of my fanaticism for the Browns. I still subscribe to DirecTV so I can get the games up here in Michigan, but it's no longer a personal catastrophe if I miss a game. Once, in days that are harder to recall, it was an absolute crisis if I missed a game.

Anymore, I know the outcome beforehand. There's precious little reason to think they're going to win. A bet against the Browns is a safe one, and the more I think about it, the more I want to murder the useless, greedy, corrupt bastards that ruined my football team.

My blood pressure is rising. You won't see them thanks to the spell-check option before I send this off to be published, but I'm so friggin' angry at Cleveland's handlers right now that I'm butchering the keyboard and filling the page with typos.

On Saturday afternoon, I broke down and trudged off to the cell phone store to get a new phone. The old one had finally given up the ghost, so I sprung for a new Motorola Razr model with all the various doo-dads. A telling moment for me was that I decided to put the Ohio State logo on the phone as its screen background, and not the Browns.

There was a time when that would have been unthinkable. Hell, I didn't even go to Ohio State, but I was born in Cleveland. But they've just worn me out. The grinding, soul-crushing losing is beyond the pale for me. This must be sports-fan equivalent of combat fatigue.

Where is the accountability? Why are there no consequences for the utter abortion we've witnessed for the past seven years? Why did we get saddled with a living caricature of Judas Iscariot, who fired not only Paul Brown but Bill Belichick, too? Hell, even Pontius Pilate didn't sign off on Jesus AND Peter. And our owner today is more interested in a friggin' pansy European soccer team, of all things. A soccer team. Think about that. Can you imagine Mickey McBride explaining to Otto Graham and Bill Willis that he was jetting across the pond to buy some poncey soccer team?

I want to break things right now. Key my car. Toilet-paper my trees. Spray-paint the side of my house. But don't screw with my football team. We lost it once, not through our own actions, but because of collusion among evil, avaricious men and a league driven by insane lust for profit, a greed that does a disservice to the nobility of the free market system. We didn't know getting the Browns back was going to be a Faustian nightmare.

I suppose my anger is a good sign that I've not become completely apathetic about this team, an entity that's meant more to mean than most human beings. But a lot of people have given up, and I'd be hard-pressed to blame them. No one likes losing. And an entire generation of fans knows this team as a consistent loser. They have no memories of the great eras, the Bernie Kosars and Brian Sipes. "The Yankees of football? Yeah, right!"

Where are the new heroes? A whole lot of money has been spent, but no one has emerged to take the baton, to assume the mantel of the legends. We need someone to create the myths and tales for our grandchildren to hear. Will it be Kellen Winslow or Charlie Frye? A 1-5 record argues against it.

Odds are better days are ahead, but it's difficult to accept that with Phil Savage's "stay the course" mantra – a politically charged phrase he may not have used, but might as well have. And whether that rhetoric heralds eventual success or temporarily masks an unmitigated disaster doesn't really matter. We're tired of losing. It must end. Today.

When I, of all people, am near my breaking point with this team, it's a screaming signal that rock bottom is here.


Former Ohio newspaper editor and reporter Bill Shea has written the Doc Gonzo column each week for The Orange and Brown Report for six years. He now writes for a business magazine in Detroit and was recently named vice president of communications for the Port Huron Pirates of the Continental Indoor Football League. You can learn more about his, frankly, disturbing life at or e-mail him at

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