One of the most intriguing story lines seemingly lost in the build-up to the start of the most anticipated season since The Return is, well, the return of a highly-divisive former member of the Browns' coaching staff.
And leave it to a Dallas writer to bring it up.
After spending three years as the Browns' defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham was dumped this past off-season following a behind-the-scene's power struggle with head coach Romeo Crennel and several veterans threatening a mutiny if he were to remain in charge of the defense.
For a coach with visions of head-coaching grandeur, it was an unceremonious split. But, regardless of the reasons behind his firing, Grantham, at least publicly, holds no grudges against his former team.
"My wife and I made great friends up there that will be friends forever," Grantham told the Dallas Morning News. "It's just part of the coaching profession."
Obviously, Grantham's in-depth knowledge of the Browns could be of help in Dallas' preparations for the season opener. While head coach Wade Phillips thinks Grantham could assist them in that area, he doesn't see it as tipping the scales in favor of the Cowboys.
"I think a coach that's been recently at another place can help some certainly," Phillips said. "He doesn't play the game, obviously, but he can give some insight on players, personnel, what their limitations are, those things. That helps some, but it still comes down to the execution of your team and how it plays the other team. He can give you some ideas. It does help, but at the same point I don't think it'll sway the score."
FLUFF HER! GET YER FLUFF HERE!
News-wise, what do you get when you combine the day after no practice with five days having passed since the last "game"? Fluff pieces as far as the eyes can see.
And the best of the fluff to lead-off the re-debut (what?) of the DN & WR comes from none other than the Worldwide Leader In Fluff, otherwise known as the Official Site of the Cleveland Browns.
In it, Phil Dawson talk about growing up in Texas and being an ardent supporter of the team they will open up the season against this Sunday.
"I grew up a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. It's no different than the kids around here growing up as Browns fans," Dawson told clevelandbrowns.com. "We had season tickets to the Cowboys. I remember all the great teams they had through the 1990s. Though I was pretty young at the time, I remember sitting on my dad's lap when Dwight Clark made The Catch against the Cowboys (to win the 1981 NFC Championship Game). I remember all those things."
While it may not sit well with some members of Browns Nation, at least in his youth he stayed true to the hometown teams and didn't bandwagon the clubs he chose to follow. Unlike some royalty from this area.
Thank you, Derek Anderson.
While sometimes you don't exactly come off as the sharpest knife in the chandelier, you make a very valid point in a USA Today article previewing the 2008 NFL season that I've been yelling about to anyone who will listen, including random people while walking down the street. Which could explain the odd looks and various restraining orders. And the strange feeling that I'm being followed wherever I go.
Stop looking at me!!!
Anyway, back to DA.
"Everybody's got a tough schedule," Anderson said, talking about the ferocious schedule facing the clubs in the AFC North. "The good thing about it, we all gotta play."
Amen, Derek. I couldn't have said it better or more eloquently. Well, I probably could have, but you get the point.
TIPPIN' ONE FOR THE GOOSE
There are football beat writers, then there's Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Sure, the article Gosselin writes sizing-up the Browns-Cowboys season opener could go into the one-liners section further down in this column, but the man penning the piece deserves special mention. If you don't already, make it a point to check out anything and everything he writes for the Morning News.
While not exactly Mr. Personality, Gosselin will teach you something you didn't know about the sport each and every time you open one his stories. Every. Single. Time.
Click HERE for Gosselin's page at the Dallas newspapers' website. And do it daily. You won't regret it.
Unbeknownst to most football fans within a 50-mile radius, there was a college football game played this past weekend at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Seriously, there was. Look it up. They had uniforms and officials and cheerleaders and everything.
Anyway, the contest pitted the Boston College Eagles and the Flashes of Kent State in something called the Patriot Bowl – don't ask me, I'm just the messenger. All told, a little under 11,000 people made the trek to CBS, which didn't sit well with the athletic director who gave up a home date.
"I wasn't happy with the crowd ... but I have no regrets," said Kent State's Laing Kennedy. "Still, I think we have to really evaluate this game. I'm not sure it should be on Saturday during Labor Day (weekend). We have to look at that."
(Slapping myself on the forehead)
Of course, it was the holiday. That explains the sparse crowd. The fact that it was Boston College versus Kent State had little to do with it, no?
ON THE INJURY FRONT
A bunch of players who wear orange helmets may or may not be available for the season opener. If you want specifics on the injury front, you'll have to wait until tomorrow, or, as it pertains to if Josh Cribbs will be on the field Sunday, you can click HERE.
Be warned, though: the link leads you to a (gasp!) subscriber-only article. Yeah, I'm a bastard like that.
RANDOM NOTES OF RANDOMNESS
For those who are into this sort of thing, the Browns are 5.5 point underdogs to the Cowboys this weekend. Given how banged up the secondary is, it's somewhat surprising the line is that low. ... Speaking of the secondary, what does it mean that I sometimes find myself longing for the halcyon days of Daven Holly? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm quite certain it's not good. ... I was going through Google Reader this morning looking for stories for both this piece and the newswire, and, for some reason, this article appeared. Why, I couldn't tell you. But if you enjoy morning nausea, click on the link. ... Paul Needell of the Newark Star-Ledger predicts that the "Steelers are still the best in a weak division" and that "the Browns are headed for a fall." ... I'm not certain, but the following note is either the fourth or the fifth sign of the apocalypse: in an article on the Pro Football Weekly website discussing the debate raging over the NFL schedule, the following appears just below the main title: "NFL schedule makers should consider fantasy owners too". I spit you not, that's what it says. I've read it a couple of times, and I don't know whether to continuing laughing or be very scared that there are four horsemen somewhere on the horizon. ... One member of the Browns considers teammate Josh Cribbs "the best athlete in the NFL".
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
News and notes from the Browns' upcoming opponent:
-- The Forth Worth Star-Telegram takes a look at the 2008 edition of the Cleveland Browns.
-- In order to make room for special teams ace Keith Davis, the Cowboys released cornerback Evan Oglesby.
-- Despite of the fact that the Cowboys have as many healthy wide receivers as Steelers fans have teeth, one Dallas beat writer sees it as being a non-issue.
AFC NORTH QUICK HITS
Following the release of long-time starter Rudi Johnson, new #1 back Chris Perry is looking forward to his fourth career start this Sunday as the Bengals open the season against the Rats. ... Here's a scouting report on the Bengals-Rats matchup, courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. ... A kicker making noise about a new contract? A kicker? Only in Cincinnati. ... Unlike their main rival for the AFC North crown, the Steelers enter their season opener relatively healthy. ... One thing is certain: I will always find a way to link to – and giggle about – the Beaver County Times. You have my word on it. ... Rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall will be the Steelers' kick returner, but head coach Mike Tomlin is uncertain as to how much time he'll spend in the backfield early on in the season. ... Willie Parker is a fan of "Talladega Nights"? Oh yeah, and he's preparing for a reduction in his workload after suffering a broken leg at the end of '07 and the drafting of Mendenhall. ... Steelers quarterback and motorcycle crash test dummy Ben Roethlisberger is hoping to avoid the rush of the upcoming season.
STAT OF THE DAY
You may not know it from reading the various stories leading up to this Sunday's game, but both the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys are tied in the standings with 30 other teams at 0-0. I looked it up. It's true.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I can't even think of the word, if I've even heard some fancy word for, you know, 'his foot's hurting'. A lot of times you hear like brachial plexus and all this stuff. It used to be, you know, my shoulder's hurting me, now then it became a brachial plexus. I'm still back in the 'his foot hurts' era. I have no idea what the MRI said. I wouldn't know an MRI if it was here." -- Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, on what exactly is ailing all-everything running back Beanie Wells.
QUOTE OF THE DAY, THE SEQUEL: "Man Ima getting cited bout Sunday. Leg kicking might pee myself. My popcorn is ready my fandom is revved. I am highly optimistic we are going 15-1 and then to Tampa. Lets skin that smoke wagon and see what happens." -- TSmith, in the comments section of the Dallas Morning News' Cowboys blog entry on how the Cleveland and Dallas offenses are somewhat similar. I wonder what the "T" in Emmitt's screen name stands for?