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Colonel Kurtz hates the stench of lies ... The color of money ain't Green ... The Kentucky Rifleman shoots blanks, gets booed, cries ... Reasons for hope ... You get a big, fat ‘F' Charlie Browns Fan.<BR><BR><I>Talk back to Doc in the <A HREF="">Fan Commentator Forum</A></I>.

- Two tickets to Sunday's game against Baltimore: $80.

- Hotel room with Jacuzzi and sound-proof walls in downtown Cleveland: $130.

- Speeding ticket on I-480: $200.

- Turd-like Browns performance against the youngest team in the league: Worthless.


CLEVELAND – The Plain Dealer was full of lies Monday.


No, not the feeble ramblings of Roger Brown or Bill Livingston. Instead, it was the inane collection of quotes fed to reporters by players and coaches of the Cleveland Browns.


Here's a sample: "I didn't realize there was a public outcry (to start Jamel White over William Green)" coach Butch Davis was quoted as saying after Sunday's game.


Either he's lying, or completely out of touch with reality. I like Butch a lot, and am convinced he will win a Super Bowl in Cleveland. But these comments are just absurd. He knows exactly how the fans feel about the White-Green situation. Even if he doesn't read a single newspaper or Web site and steers clear of all radio and television, the stat sheets and crowd reaction are more than enough clues to tell him what the fans think.


If he truly didn't know, I shudder at his worrisome level of isolation and grieve a coach could be that out of touch with his team's fans. After all, without fans, there is no wonder called "pro football" and Butch would be back in Tulsa, Okla., still teaching high school biology.


As Davis pointed out, fans don't run the team (thankfully so … more on them later). Nor should they. But in this case, they're correct. White is simply the better running back, and trying to force Green's development is costing the Browns. Cleveland still has a very healthy shot at the division title, and it's the coaching staff's responsibility to play the personnel that give the team the best chance to win.

William Green is not among those personnel right now. He may be next year or even next month. But not right now.


White can move the ball. He's faster, has a better burst through the hole, has a better feel for when the brief gaps appear, and knows how to finish runs. Green isn't there yet.


White added to the litany of falsehoods in the paper: "I agree with it," he said of the team's decision to start Green.


I've played football. I've yet to meet a player who will say privately the guy in front of him should start when the stats don't bear it out. Green's carries aren't measured in yards, but feet. Wanna guess which player has rushed for 262 yards on 52 carries and which has just 97 yards on 44 carries?


White knows his stats. If he doesn't want to be the starting running back for the Cleveland Browns, he shouldn't even be playing the game.


Yes, players and coaches are paid to play and say the right things. White is a good soldier, and won't cause controversy by telling the truth. But the odor of lies still befouls the newspaper. No one believes it, except perhaps small children and public/media relations flunkies (you can only tell them apart by height). Of course, this is the kind of reporting you get from sports writers: a mile wide, an inch deep. One can't imagine the White House or Pentagon press corps letting their sources get away with such obvious lies. Of course, as readers, we never demand serious reporting from sports writers, so we have only ourselves to blame for such flimsy, milquetoast garbage.


In the meantime, there is much to consider.


Booing a player performing poorly is OK. Cheering an injured player is not. More on that later. For now, let's address the issue of quarterback performance that led to the boos.


Certainly, Tim Couch has the right to be angry at fans for cheering when he went down with a concussion. He does NOT have the right to complain about them voicing their distaste for his play.


Couch wasn't good. For that matter, Holcomb wasn't very good, either. Some blame can be dumped on an unimaginative game plan, tentative play calling and poor play by the offensive line, running backs and receivers.


But the quarterback is paid millions of dollars to overcome all that. Dan Marino did it in Miami. Only NFL diehards remember Marino's receivers, backs and blockers in Miami. They were nobodies, even Duper and Clayton.


For the Cleveland Browns to advance to the next level, Couch must dig deep and perform as Marino. He doesn't need to put up the same numbers, but he must find it within himself to find a way to win. Slant patterns to the flanker while the linebacker is sitting on the route isn't the way. And that goes for both quarterbacks.


Sunday night, Couch looked buffoonish at times. He delivered bad throws and made very poor decisions. His reads looked terrible. There were open receivers (open during the play, not the post-play openness fans mistake for open once the defender has left to make a tackle).


It's worrisome that four years into his career, Couch is making rookie mistakes. The comparisons to Bernie Kosar are unfair because of the talent level around Kosar at the some juncture in his career, but it's the best comparison we have. Both are/were the team's franchise quarterback.


Drafted in 1985, Kosar had been All-Pro and a Pro Bowler by his fourth season. Heck, he led the entire AFC in passing in 1987. Couch hasn't approached that level. He has the most talent yet of his career around him this season, but makes throwing errors that make one question his command of the scheme. And why, while in the grasp of a Raven defender, does he uncork that wounded duck down the sideline? It was almost like a punt, and a stupid decision that snuffed out a potential score.


Holcomb has the cujones to play – and nearly win the game – on a broken leg. Flashbacks to that 1992 game against Miami when Bernie Kosar hobbled around and nearly rallied the team for a win. But guts, in this case, wasn't enough. Holcomb made several very nice throws, but he made far more bad/dangerous tosses that should cement in everyone's mind that he belongs firmly on the bench. His sole job is to back up Tim Couch, and he did only a so-so job of it. The scoring passes were great. It's obvious Holcomb has the intangible connection with Dennis Northcutt in the same mold Couch and Kevin Johnson are on the same page. But again, that's not enough.


It gets worse.


In the week prior to the game, reports out of Berea left the distinct impression that Couch and the Browns were worried and scared of Baltimore middle linebacker/former murder suspect Ray Lewis. True, Lewis is an all-world talent. But to come off as scared is inexcusable. The coaching staff gave off the same stink of cowardice. Perhaps I'm misreading it, but the entire offense seemed designed Sunday not to win, but to avoid crossing paths with Lewis.


That's pathetic.


Show fear in the NFL, you're done for. Baltimore didn't need to sniff out fright from the Browns. Cleveland was yelping days before the game. This team goes nowhere until it exudes the confidence of a gang of colicky Dobermans ready to feast on arrogant, narcissistic prima donnas like Lewis for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


If we can take any positives from the game, they breakdown like this:

  1. The Baltimore Ravens are in first place in the AFC North, but the odds say they won't be there for long. The team has neither the experience nor depth for the long haul. And the season is a marathon, not a sprint. Injuries will catch up with the Ravens, and expose them as a house of cards.
  2. Tim Couch has proven he has the talent. The Tennessee game was no fluke.
  3. The non-scumbag fans left the stadium bowed but unbroken. In fact, it was rather reminiscent of a vanquished army retreating in good order, bloodied but defiant. The post game cries of "Baltimore sucks" didn't ring completely hollow.
  4. The Browns and Ravens each have distinct fourth-quarter personalities. Cleveland has shown a propensity for scoring points when the chips are down. Baltimore can't stop other teams. The Ravens know they dodged a bullet Sunday night. Two weeks ago, they allowed the Broncos to storm back. A sign of things to come.
  5. There are 12 games and a bye week remaining.
  6. The Steelers are 1-3.
  7. To twist a quote from our old friend Sam Wyche, you live in Cleveland. You don't live in Cincinnati.
  8. The ribs at Dick's Last Resort in the Flats are still the best in the world. Nothing takes the edge off defeat like chowing down on the salty innards of Babe and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.
  9. The Texans come to town in two weeks. I'll be there.
  10. We have the toughest, most ballsy kicker in the entire league. Phil Dawson was a man Sunday night.


GUS FREROTTE WATCH: Gus didn't play, and Jon Kitna tossed a trio of interceptions in a surprisingly close 28-21 loss at Indianapolis. It's nice to know the one constant in this wacky season is just down Interstate 71. No matter how bad it gets, it's always worse in Cincinnati.


THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK: Take heart. The loss Sunday only slightly delays Brian Billick's inevitable firing. And each passing day brings us a little bit closer to the morning we open the newspaper to read Art Modell's obituary.


Here's my report card. I'm only giving out a single grade this week:


Cleveland Browns fans helped the Baltimore Ravens win Sunday. Good job, gang. Booing the team lustily, and cheering when Tim Couch stumbled to the ground with an injury was not only disconcerting and immoral, but treasonous. The Ravens used the self-inflicted boos as ammunition. It pumped them up.

Drunkenness is no excuse. Neither is frustration. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy – especially Baltimore – is a death penalty offense. In my book, fans who cheered Couch's injury are no better than those two trailer-trash freaks that attacked that baseball coach a few weeks back.

Be ashamed, Clevelanders. You came across like uneducated, immoral apes on national television. You made Pittsburgh seem classy.

When the team returns in two weeks to play the Texans, you'd best cheer loud, long and hard for Couch. I'll be in the stands, and if I hear some knucklehead express glee if Couch gets banged up, you'll have 250lbs of me and Marine Corps hand-to-hand combat training to deal with.

On a personal note, each ill-fated William Green carry Sunday prompted my Michigan State alumnae girlfriend to chant "T.J. Duckett."


She gets an F, too.



Doc Gonzo is a former Ohio newspaper reporter who once played quarterback and was booed. He now lives in Michigan's remote, mysterious and exotic Thumb, where he is safe from fools, knaves, Ratbirds. He can be reached at

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