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Tommy offers up a toast to Al Lerner, finds a surprising new candidate for the <I>Bonehead of the Year</I>, and ponders the contribution of one Butch Davis. Remember: he's something and you're something. But, you can always talk back to Tommy in the <A href="">Fan Commentary Forum</A>.

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I never met Al Lerner, but I'd like to offer a toast to the man who brought football back to Cleveland.

Sure, there are those who say the Browns were coming back anyway, and that Lerner was just the high bidder. But just because you're willing to spend a half a billion bucks to build something doesn't necessarily mean you'll do it well. And Lerner built the new Browns the right way. For a guy who made piles of money on credit cards, he showed remarkable restraint in the team's first years, passing up on big-money, quick-fix free agents so he could build a team that would last.

Just think what you'd do if you'd just spent five hundred and fifty MILLION dollars on a football team? Wouldn't you be tempted to pull an Al Davis or a Jerry Jones and try to tell the coaches what to do, who to play, when to throw? I sure as hell would, but Lerner never did. For that alone, he deserves our respect.

He's also the guy who refused to sell the naming rights to Cleveland Browns Stadium. Wouldn't it be a classy move by the team to rename it Al Lerner Stadium, or Lerner Field at Cleveland Browns Stadium?

It's a damned shame that the last game we played in his lifetime was in those butt-ugly orange uniforms (don't get me started on that). But at least it was a victory.

And isn't it ironic that the team's next game is against the Jets? After all, it was aboard Lerner's jet that Art Modell sold out the original Browns and grabbed the cash from Baltimore. But true fans long ago forgave Lerner for that, recognizing that it was painful at the time but it rid us of Art forever.

Now we can only assume Al's gone on to that big skybox in the sky, where he'll never meet up with Modell again. We'll get you that Super Bowl win yet, Big Al.

So here's a toast to Mr. Lerner. Can I charge that to my MBNA card?

Mea culpa: Last week, I was speculating on nominees for the coveted Bonehead of the Year Award. One of my suggestions was that the award go to Broncos QB Brian Griese, who tripped in teammate Terrell Owens' driveway and hurt himself. As 163 people pointed out, that was Terrell DAVIS, not Owens. So I guess now we know the early front-runner for the Bonehead Award is me. That's why friends don't let friends write drunk.

Is it just me?: Boy, I'd sure like to have to eat these words some day, but the early-season performance of the Browns has to make you wonder: Is Butch Davis the right coach for this team?

Note that I am definitely NOT saying Davis should be fired, or even that he should be considered on the hot seat. And I'm not saying the players aren't to blame for a lot of the sloppy play. But somebody's got to point out that a lot of the team's problems can be traced to poor coaching. And I'm just the guy to do it.

Hey, isn't it Butch's job to teach receivers to catch the damned ball?

Isn't it his fault when the offensive lineman jump off sides on two plays in a row?

Isn't he responsible for teaching the defensive backs how to actually tackle somebody?

Isn't he the one who ran Dwight Clark out of town so he could pick his own personnel, then drafted a running back who can't break a tackle to save his life?

Last year, Davis got a free pass because it was his first season and the roster wasn't exactly bursting with talent. But the honeymoon's over, baby. It's like Spiderman says: With great power comes great responsibility. Put up or shut up.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you: I 've finally figured out how to watch Browns games on Sunday and still get things done. I just watch the first drive, then wash the car or go to the park or clean my guns for a couple of hours, then come back for the end. ‘Cause I'm sure as hell not missing anything in the middle.

Look at the Browns' line scores through the first seven games. In the first quarter, they scored 6 against KC, 3 against the Bengals, 7 against Tennessee, 3 against Pittsburgh, zippo against Baltimore, Tampa and Houston. Nineteen first-quarter points in seven games. That's not what championship teams do, folks.

The second quarter isn't much better. Cleveland scored 14 against KC and Cincy. Not bad. But against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tampa and Houston, the Browns scored a grand total of 10 second-quarter points. Is that pathetic, or what?

Surely they do better after a rousing half-time pep talk, right? Not exactly: 7 third-quarter points against KC, shut out in the third by the Bengals, 7 against Tennessee, 0 against the Steelers, Ravens and Bucs, for a whopping total of 14. At least they showed some life against the Texans scoring 17 in the third. But, then again, that was at home against the Texans, without several of their best players.

The team is decent in the fourth – 63 total points. But 21 of those came in Kelly Holcomb's improbable rally in the Baltimore game.

I hate to overstate the obvious, but if we don't score, we ain't gonna win.


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