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By In Browns, Football

Browns Fandom, Week 6

From NBC SportsWorld:

On the next play, Josh McCown threw one of the most dismal and blatant interceptions that a human being can throw. And Mike lost it.

“What the (bleep) was that?” Mike shouted at me. “Why are you dragging me into your (bleeping) Browns insanity? What the (bleep) was that? And you know what the worst part is? You were out, man! You were totally out. Yeah, you grew up in Cleveland, you had to root for the team so you could have friends, but then you were out! Why would you VOLUNTARILY go back into this (bleep). Why?”

And then, he asked the most pertinent question of all.

“And why would you drag me into your Cleveland (bleep)?” he shouted.

Read: This Won’t End Well

 

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By In Browns, Football

Jinxes and Browns

Week 4 of return to Browns fanhood.

From NBC SportsWorld:

But is Cleveland really jinxed or is that something that we Clevelanders just tell ourselves to make it all seem a little more romantic? Seen another way, the Indians did put together one of the great hitting teams in baseball history and got to a couple of World Series in the 1990s. LeBron James has twice taken the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals — once when he was just a kid and once more after he returned home. Even the perpetually doomed Browns have been to three championship games, something that Detroit Lions fans would take in a heartbeat. They all just fell short.

And the bad teams? Were they really jinxed? Take this Browns team. They’re bad. But jinxed? Sunday seemed a good day to find out.

The J Word

 

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By In Browns, Football

Oranges and Tangelos

So here’s Week 2 of what I think will be a weekly update on returning to life as a Cleveland Browns fan — also a discussion of the old orange Browns helmets and the new ones:

From SportsWorld:

I do not believe in Johnny Manziel. I do not trust him in the least. I do not like the way he plays football. But if I am going to love my Browns, it seems, I must make peace with the idea that we are now thrown together in a marriage of convenience. Johnny Manziel will have a direct affect on my personal happiness. This would not be my choice. But, that’s the point. There is no choice.

Tangelo Dream

 

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By In Browns, Football

A loss to remember

From SportsWorld:

The Chiefs got the ball back on their 20, and there seemed no doubt that they would run out the clock because that’s what coach Andy Reid does. Know thyself, Andy. But for some reason, the Chiefs decided to try and trick the Broncos by lining up as if they intended to throw. Of course, they did not throw – as the Broncos undoubtedly knew. They handed off to Jamaal Charles. He ran into a mess of Broncos defenders, fumbled, the ball was scooped up by Bradley Roby who ran 21 yards for the game-winning touchdown, while 75,000 or so Chiefs fans in the stadium and millions around the world simultaneously dropped their jaws.

“I’ve never been involved in one quite like that one,” said Peyton Manning, who was smiling like those guys on the “we won a million bucks” fantasy sports commercials.

It was a crushing, gutting, humiliating defeat for Kansas City, but the question here is not, “Why the heck didn’t the Chiefs just take a knee?” or “How many different ways can Andy Reid mismanage the clock?” or “Is Peyton Manning a witch?”

No, the question here is: Will this one become famous?

A loss to remember

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By In Browns, Football

What Can Browns Do For You?

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From Sportsworld:

Then came this year and a decision: I decided to start caring about the Browns again. I’m not sure you can just “decide” to start caring, but I figure that I’ll give it a shot. The NFL season has lost so much of its thrill for me the last few years. Part of it is that is for obvious reasons: I despise the way they run the league, I believe the sport is too dangerous, and it breaks my heart to see what becomes of so many of the players after they have given their bodies and minds to entertain us.

But, I have to admit: Part of it is that I’ve been getting older. … I just don’t feel as passionately about the Browns or pro football as I once did. And I don’t like that. I don’t want to feel less passionately about things, whether it’s football or music or more important things.

The Cleveland Browns: A sorta, kinda love story

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By In Football

The Professional

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Will Shields story: When Will retired from football, Senia (prounounced SEN-ya) asked him where he wanted to go on vacation. Finally, after all these years, all those collisions, all that grueling work, he was finally free to go anywhere in the world he wanted to go. So where would it be? China? Africa? Australia?

“Hawaii,” Will said.

Senia looked at him as if he was mad. Hawaii? Did he really say Hawaii? The family – Will, Senia, their three children Sanayika, Shavon and Solomon — had been to Hawaii practically every year since Will became a professional football player. He had been elected to a dozen Pro Bowls, for crying out loud. The trip to Honolulu was an annual event on the family calendar.

“Hawaii?” she asked him. “We’ve been on vacation to Hawaii 12 times already.”

“No,” Will quietly corrected her. “YOU have been on vacation in Hawaii 12 times. … I was working.”

From Shields, Unshielded at NBC SportsWorld.

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By In Football

Will Shields

Former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. This is a column I wrote for the Kansas City Star on December 11, 2000 about Will, who remains one of the most fascinating players I’ve ever covered.

* * *

All game long, I watched Will Shields. Couldn’t take my eyes off the man. There he was, out of position, in bitter cold, in howling wind, in a meaningless game, performing in front of a half-empty stadium, and he played his heart out. He played from the soul.

Man, it was beautiful.

You can get all caught up in this crazy game, boo the quarterback, fire the coach, attack the general manager, all that, and if you’re not careful you might miss something special. Something important.
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By In Football

The Debut of Johnny Football

You probably remember this — the 2007 BCS Championship game featured a ridiculously good Florida defense against an undefeated Ohio State team led by Heisman Trophy quarterback Troy Smith. The game started off kind of weird — with Ohio State returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown — but the next time Ohio State got the ball, Smith dropped back to throw. He noticed a Florida lineman break through to his left, so he calmly rolled out to the right and looked downfield. It was something he had done a thousand times before.

Only this time, the defensive lineman grabbed him and pulled him to the ground.

This could have been my imagination, but I think a lot about how Troy Smith got up after that sack. There was something about his body language that expressed shock and awe. He had not seen that sack coming. He had run away fully expecting to get away. But — and this was crushing — that giant defensive lineman was FASTER than him. All these giant defensive linemen were faster than him. This wasn’t good. All of the timing mechanisms in his brain had to be re-calibrated. All of the football things he was so sure about, well, he wasn’t so sure about them anymore. The rest of the game progressed predictably — Smith looked helpless and was sacked repeatedly and he completed four passes in the entire game.
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By In Football, RIP

Chuck Noll

Most coaches coach. That’s obvious, I guess. Their success and failure depends on coaching stuff — how they strategize, how they organize, how they accumulate talent, how well they teach and so on. Their jobs come down to their words and their plans and their decisions. That seems so self-evident that it feels silly to even bring it up.

Except for this: For some, success and failure doesn’t come down to such things. Most coaches coach. Some coaches, though — a rare few — just ARE. They aren’t triumphant for their gameplans or preparations or their communication skills. Their success radiates from the person they are.

Chuck Noll was just such a coach.
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By In Football

Haslam and Hope and Homelessness

Thursday night, after 30 years of watching and writing about it, I went to my first NFL Draft. It was more dramatic than I expected, to tell you the truth. I had expected it to be tedious and awful on numerous levels, but you know, there was a lof of energy in Radio City Music Hall, a lot of buzz. Every time an NFL team passed on Johnny Football, for instance, the tension rose a little bit higher. Whenever a trade was announced, there was this crackling crackling bit of life in the room. Almost everybody wore an NFL jersey, almost everybody seemed to know who were the exciting players in the draft, and I actually caught some pretty interesting conversations — certainly didn’t see that coming.
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