Posted on: October 19, 2008 9:15 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:44 pm

Week 7: Has the Slipper Been Shattered?

Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story
Act 2, Scene ii
by: Romeo Crennel and the Dawgs

Derek Anderson as "Mr. Hyde"
Jamal Lewis as himself
Braylon Edwards as "Jim Abbott"
Dave Zastudil as "The Man With the Golden Toe"
Eric Wright as "The Playmaker"
Cleveland Browns fans as "The Dawgs"

Jason Campbell as "Eli Manning cerca 2007"
Clinton Portis as "Slash"
Mike Sellers as "The Juggernaut"
Carlos Rogers as "Lawrence Taylor"
Antwaan Randle El as "Smurf #1"
Santana Moss as "Smurf #2"

After a stunning upset of last year's Super Bowl champions, the Cleveland Browns arrived at Fed Ex Field to take on the Washington Redskins. The underdawg Browns came into the game fairly healthy and looking to build upon last weeks' momentum. The Redskins entered this contest coming off an emotional loss to the then winless Saint Louis Rams. A classic, hard-fought battle of momentum versus redemption pit Dawg versus Hog in a critical game for both teams.

The action takes place on October 19th, 2008 at 4:15pm on Sunday night. 48 degrees. Cloudy. Fair.


Anderson: Hail Browns fans, I beseech thee! Lend me your hearts, trust, and adoration! I have demonstrated great courage in slaying the mighty Giants of York, and I shall continue my ways against these foul Swine!

Dawgs: Dearest Derek, perhaps you do deserve our trust and adoration. We shall silence the call for your fairest understudy and rally behind thee.

Anderson: Amen my friends, I shall not disappoint! Watch as I carve up these wounded hogs in route to another Cleveland victory.

Anderson and Dawgs: Cheers!

(curtain falls)

The smiles and laughter ended shortly thereafter as the Browns came up short in a late 4th quarter thriller against the Washington Redskins. Defense was the call of the day as the first points by any team came in the 3rd quarter on a 3 yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis. The 'Skins never looked back, as the Browns were in catch-up mode for the rest of the game.

Man...we really needed this one. Every game from here on out is now considered a must win as our already slim playoff chances are rapidly fading. Baltimore and Pittsburgh both came out with wins, and it will take some real movie magic for us to get back into the thick of things.

The Good
  • Discipline: The Browns looked like an entirely different team from the one we saw 6 days ago. Perhaps the biggest difference came with the elimination of the foolish penalties that plagued the team over the past few contests. There were no offensive penalties for false starts, holding, or illegal formations. In that regard, the Browns executed a flawless game on offense. The defense also showed great discipline - keeping the self-destructive plays to a minimum while executing the game plan to perfection.
  • The Defense: This is the third straight week our defense has stepped up in a big way. Brandon McDonald, Brodney Pool and company did an decent job of containing Jason Campbell and the Washington passing attack. The only weak spot in Mel Tucker's scheme is the rush defense - which Clinton Portis exploited to the tune of 175 yards. Even with Portis' superb effort, the Browns only gave up 14 points on the road. With as high octane of an offense as we have, that should have been enough to win the game.
  • Special Teams: I can't say enough about the job Dave Zastidul and the Browns special teams unit did tonight. Zastidul was masterful - downing three punts inside the 20 en route to a 37.3 yard average. While Cribbs struggled to find any game-changing seams in the return game, he took what he could and played within himself. Oh, and kudos to Gerard Lawson. That big 43 yard return sparked a stale Browns offense and put us right back into the game. I can't fault Dawson for missing that 54-yarder at the end. It wasn't his fault, and I'll address that a little bit later.
The Bad
  • Field General #3: We are quickly finding out who Derek Anderson is as this turbulent season progresses. This was the first time Donte' Stallworth, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow were healthy and on the field at the same time. Our offensive line and running backs were near 100%. Derek had the trust of his teammates, and his confidence was at an all-time high. Rob Chudzinski's gameplan was brilliant and this was a big-time game. In other words, everything was set up perfectly for DA to come through...and he didn't. Anderson just wasn't accurate. An offense is only as good as the quarterback, and as of now, the Browns are simply too inconsistent to contend.
  • Game Management: Romeo must have had his lucky rabbit's foot today, as this one could have turned out ugly. Twice he tempted fate by gambling against common sense, and won. The Browns were down 11 points in the 4th quarter with around 5 minutes to play. After failing to score 3 times from 1 yard out, Romeo elected to go for a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal and making it a one possession game. Fortunately, Eric Wright made a huge play by stripping Portis, and DA marched the Browns down for a score (and subsequent 2 pt. conversion).
  • More Game Management: With the 'Skins nursing a 3 point lead at the 2:44 mark, the Browns had two timeouts to force a three and out in hopes of getting the ball back and driving for a final score. After the defense dug deep and stopped the Redskins on first and second down, Coach Crennel used his final timeouts and put the entire game on one play. Had Washington converted on 3rd and 5, they would have run the clock out and the game would have been over. Once again, the Browns lucked out and got the last stop which gave them a chance to score. Why put the entire game on one play so unnecessarily? Let them run two plays, take it to the two-minute warning, and use a timeout on a 3rd down stop while saving the last for a potential field goal try.
  • Even More Game Management: On the final drive of the game, the Browns had a 1st and 10 with the ball at the Washington 38 yard line. Instead of designing something to give Dawson a more realistic chance, Derek took shot after shot down the field without gaining a single yard. I appreciate the aggressive play-calling, but setting for a game-tying 54 yard field goal attempt is NOT putting this team in the best position to win. You would want at least 10 more yards to give Phil Dawson a realistic chance of tying the game up.
The Ugly
  • The Loss: I've said it before, but this loss puts us in a terrible position. Realistically, we will need things to fall our way if we hope to make it to the playoffs. Football is such a crazy game. Even with the poor offensive performance and terrible game management, the Browns remained competitive to the end, and had a chance to steal a tough road victory. In order for the Browns to reach the post season, they not only have to weather a brutal schedule , but now they need teams ahead of them to lose as well.

(the curtain rises as a clearly distraught Cleveland Browns team reappear on stage with their heads down in frustration)

Dawgs: Superman wears number 10. Quinn to win!

Our Cinderella story is quickly turning from drama to science fiction - as we undoubtedly need help from above to make it to the playoffs. Many questions remain for our beloved underdawgs: Is it finally time to see Brady Quinn? How in the world will we beat the Jacksonville Jaguars coming off a bye IN Jacksonville? And should Carlos Rogers be detained for the attempted murder of Josh Cribbs?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the next scene of Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story
Posted on: October 17, 2008 11:57 am

Too Much Yellow for Browns

"Football is a game of errors. The team that makes the fewest errors in a game usually wins."
~Paul Brown

Take a minute to reflect on that statement by legendary Cleveland Browns football coach Paul Brown. The team that makes the fewest errors in a game usually wins. Brown's philosophy on professional football indicated that success is determined not by the good you achieve, but the bad you avoid.

If this is true, the 2008 Cleveland Browns have a very long way to go.

The current incarnation of the Browns is the sloppiest version we've seen in quite some time. The Browns have shot themselves in the foot a grand total of 47 times through week 6, making them the fourth most penalized team in all of football. When you look at the team since 2005, the figures are alarming:

  • 2005: 6.19 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2006: 4.63 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2007: 7.13 penalties per game (16 games)
  • 2008: 9.40 penalties per game (5 games)
To put that number in perspective, the Browns have run 283 plays from the line of scrimmage and committed 47 offensive penalties. That roughly amounts to 1 penalty for every 6 offensive plays!

In times of peril, it's natural for fans to look to the head coach to explain exactly what is going on.

"Crowd noise impacted [the penalties]," Coach Crennel said. "I think what we're going to do is get a bit more crowd noise [at practice] to solve that problem."

Crowd noise, Romeo? Is that the reason for all the false starts, holding, and illegal shifts we've seen to this point?

Perhaps looking at the head coach was a bad idea. Center and offensive co-captain Hank Fraley was asked why the Browns have had so many penalties through the first 5 games of the season.

"[Penalties] are just sometimes your lack of discipline," Fraley said. "You're so reved up to go, and you just move a tad early. These refs are good - they see you. Sometimes you get away with it and you see that a lot - people get away with it. If they happen to have the eye on you and you do flinch, they're going to get you."

Hank Fraley, back up for a second here. You mean to tell me penalties are just a lack of discipline? Why in the world is "getting away with it" something that has even crossed your mind?

Timout here.

What I'm hearing from members of the Cleveland Browns' organization is downright disturbing. Crowd noise and lack of discipline are in no way justifiable excuses for being penalized. Preparation and discipline are the two most fundamental parts of the football, and this team has been severely lacking in both areas for going on two years.

Romeo Crennel does not have to be a stonewalled disciplinarian to be an effective head coach. However, if he is unable to demonstrate his team can play with the two most basic football principles, something may need to be done.

This year's Browns team has done a good job proving doubters wrong. Looking forward to the week 7 matchup against the Redskins, we need to see a drastic improvement from this team if they want to consider themselves a legitimate contender. To the chagrin of Romeo Crennel, there WILL be crowd noise on Sunday, and the Browns need to be prepared to deal with it. To the chagrin on Hank Fraley, NFL officials WILL be watching them, so they need to execute and play sounds offensive football.

Penalties are similar to studying for a test. Generally speaking, the more you study, the better you will do on the exam. The Browns have the feel of a team who refuses to study, but excuses it because they managed to ace their last test. Sooner or later it is going to catch up with you, and if this is not addressed soon, I fear the worst for this team.
Posted on: October 14, 2008 1:59 am
Edited on: October 14, 2008 2:44 am

Week 6: Cinderella 2: Act 2, Scene i

Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story
by: Romeo Crennel and the Dawgs


Derek Anderson as "The Quarterback"
Braylon Edwards as "The Playmaker"
Jamal Lewis as himself
Eric Wright as "Deion Sanders"
Shaun Rogers as "The Refrigerator with a Motor"
Ryan Tucker as "Guess Who's Back?"
Cleveland Browns Fans as "The Dawgs"

Eli Manning as "The Goat"
Brandon Jacobs as "Tip-toe McTalksalot"
Aaron Ross as "Oh wait, there was a game today?"
Plaxico Burress as "Four Receptions"
(Justin Tuck was not available for this scene)

This scene takes place on a nationally televised ESPN telecast on Monday night. To help set the scene, take every national media writer and analyst available and praise the Giants as the greatest football team ever. CBS writer Mike Freeman contributes with a column on the Giants as the next football dynasty. Pete Prisco contributes by ranking the Browns 25th overall in the NFL power rankings. Add every nay-saying, trash talking Giants fan to the mix and the setting is perfect.

The action takes place on October 13th, 2008 at 8:30pm on Monday night. 52 degrees. Cloudy. Fair.


Anderson: Hail Browns fans, I beseech thee! Lend me your hearts, trust, and adoration! The past has looked grim, but today is a new day!

Dawgs: No good sir! Your passing has been poor and your interceptions aplenty. Your passer rating stands at 49.9!


Dawgs: Plus, our hearts are with your fairest understudy. We must boo until we see the one from Notre Dame.

Anderson: Truly you jest! Very well. I shall demonstrate I am just as good as Brady Quinn. Perhaps I'll even prove Sircheeks correct in supporting me through good and bad...

(curtain falls)

The Cleveland Browns came out in front of the National Football League and proved to the world and themselves exactly how good a football team they can be. They dominated the heavily favored Giants both offensively and defensively from the first play of the game. Everyone from the stars to the supporting cast stepped up and contributed to arguably the most complete victory in the past few years.

The Good
  • The Defense: There is so much to say about this team effort, but it all starts with the job Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker did scheming against the number one offense in the NFL. As we've seen with the Miami Dolphins, when a team's back is against the wall and they are facing a seemingly invincible opponent - that is the proper time to dig deep into the playbook and turn the entire unit loose. Tucker frequently dialed up corner blitzes which for the most part kept the Giants contained and mitigated the damage from their explosive offensive unit. In addition, there was a UFO (unidentified flying to the offense) sighting. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!
  • Pass Protection: For the past two weeks, I've been harping on Ryan Tucker's importance to the offensive line and we saw why on Monday night. Tucker and the guys did an outstanding job of picking up the blitzes and keeping Derek Anderson upright all game. That was beyond impressive. To give up zero sacks to the team tied with the third most sacks in the NFL is an amazing feat.
  • Rob Chudzinski: Where do I begin? The play-calling, the game plan, the faith in Anderson, the trust in Steve Heiden, and the commitment to Jamal Lewis were just brilliant. The Browns looked great all game - picking up first downs, staying in manageable downs and distances, and driving up and down the field thanks to a well-balanced offense and a superb understanding of New York's defense. Chud also managed to sneak the "Flash" package in there on the reverse to Harrison and the Cribbs direct run. I'm a sucker for offensive creativity and Chud stole my heart on Monday night.
  • Derek Anderson: He played one heck of a football game. Anderson started off rocky, but finished as the quarterback many of us expected to see the entire season. Derek made all the throws you'd like to see out of a quarterback. He showed great accuracy on the short routes, great touch on the deep balls, and put a little extra on throws in tight windows. Derek also did a fine job of showing discretion: taking shots down the field only when the coverage dictated he could do so. This was easily the best game I've seen from DA to this point.
  • Braylon Edwards: Big time players make big time plays. Braylon showed why he should still be considered one of the top 5 wide receivers in the game. Aside from the one drop, Edwards played a flawless game and provided leadership at a time when the Browns sorely needed that type of performance. I was also pleased to see Edwards represent himself and his family so well in his post game interviews. Braylon is a model citizen and one of the classiest guys in the NFL. I was proud to call him our star.
  • Game Management: Finally! We haven't arrived where we need to be just yet, but Romeo finally managed a good game. There were still a few silly timeouts, but they didn't end up costing us and in the end that's all that matters. I love that decision to go for two after Eric Wright's interception. A 21 point lead is much better than a 20, and Romeo made the correct decision in that situation.
The Bad
  • Special Teams: In a game where there were only a couple glaring holes, the Cleveland Browns' special teams were not so special. The New York Giants started out with great field position on nearly every drive. Part of that was due to Ahmad Bradshaw and the other part fell on special teams' Coach Ted Daisher. I look for that to improve next week against Washington.
  • Minutes Before the Half: They say good teams have the ability to come away with points at the end of the half. Well, good teams also have the ability to stop teams from scoring at the half as well. The Browns allowed the Giants to drive 80 yards down the field and score a touchdown right before the end of the first half to make it a game. This is another thing I'd like to see improve in the next weeks.
The Ugly
  • Illegal formation - Ryan Tucker
  • False start - Eric Steinbach
  • False start - Rex Hadnot
  • Illegal shift - Steve Heiden
  • False start - Rex hadnot
  • Holding - Willie McGinest
  • Illegal contact - Mike Adams
  • False start - Laurence Vickers
  • False start - Braylon Edwards
  • Holding - Steve Heiden
  • Delay of game - Derek Anderson
  • False start - Hank Fraley
One game is a fluke...two games are a trend...and more than three makes it a reality. The Browns need to take a page from momluvsfootball and quit this unhealthy habit cold turkey. I don't want to see any more offensive linemen sneaking in a few false starts just to "get their fix." No more illegal formations! Please!

We cannot continue to make those kind of mistakes in the game because we might not be so fortunate to convert next time. Braylon Edwards put it best on ESPN when he said the Browns won't be able to win football games if things like this continue. I hope the offensive linemen don't think this win justifies their sloppy play. Such poor discipline takes away from the outstanding job their unit did in a winning effort.

(the curtain rises as the Cleveland Browns reappear on stage to a thunderous ovation from fans and gentledawgs)

Dawgs: Bravo! Excellent! Go Browns!

Now, the Cinderella story continues to Week 7 of the National Football League where our protagonists encounter another colossal test in the form of the Washington Redskins. Can the Browns overcome short rest in time to face another terrifying foe? Will the Browns be able to win three straight games for the first time this season? And where in the world did Justin Tuck go?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the next scene of Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story
Posted on: October 11, 2008 9:36 am

Rumor: Details on Kellen Winslow's Injury

According to a league source published in part by, Kellen Winslow is being hospitalized for Swollen Testicles.

The report only makes notice of the injury and does not specify any additional details.

If this report is indeed true, Browns fans have little to worry about.

A men's health article published by elaborates on what this could possibly mean for the Browns.

Testicle Swelling
Pain doesn't always accompany swollen testicles; the presence or absence of pain depends on the cause of the swelling. Often, swollen testicles are caused by harmless fluid accumulations. However, swollen testicles can also be a symptom of testicular cancer.

Hydrocele is a common cause of swollen testicles in newborns and the elderly, although men can develop Hydrocele at any age. Hydrocele occurs when fluid accumulates between the two menbranes that cover the testicles. One or both testicles may be swollen. Hydrocele swelling gradually increases over a period of weeks or months.

Hydrocele swelling is usually painless. If the testicles appear to be chronically swollen, medical interventions are available. Surgery can cure Hydrocele, or the fluid may be drawn out of the testicular membrane using a fine needle. (fine needle aspiration is quite painful, so some men prefer surgical operations)

Kellen most likely was kept an additional night to run tests for cancer or any other serious conditions.

The big thing to take into consideration here is the absence of pain. Barring a serious discovery, Mary Kat Cabot thinks Kellen would be cleared to play on Monday night.

  1. 4 Men's Health, "Testicle Swelling" [
    ing.html] Accessed October 11th, 2008
  2., "Kellen Winslow Player Profile" [
    pages/player_main.aspx?sport=NFL&id=2772] Accessed October 11th, 2008
Category: NFL
Posted on: October 10, 2008 2:47 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2008 4:54 pm

The Cleveland Browns' Best Offensive Player is...

...not a wide receiver. He is not a quarterback tight end, halfback, or offensive lineman.


Cleveland's best offensive player is a 6 foot, 250 pound bruising fullback who goes by the name of Lawrence Vickers.

The Browns have struggled early on in the young season to find an offensive groove. Superstar wide receiver Braylon Edwards and Derek Anderson have gotten off to a slow start. Pro Bowl tight end Kellen Winslow is non-existent in the passing game, and the offensive line as a whole has shown relapses from their stellar 2007 season. The only glimmer of hope and constancy for the Browns has been the play of the 6th round draft pick from Colorado.

Vickers is a punishing blocker whose ability to drive defenders away from the play makes him one of the best at his position in the game. On any given rushing play, it is easy to spot the stout Vickers - either busting up a linebacker at the next level or sealing off the back end of a long run. He shines in pass protection, and has the vision required to make the key lead blocks.

All this, and no one talks about him.

This is because playing fullback in the National Football League is a thankless position. They do most of the work, yet receive none of the credit. They put the team in front of themselves and their bodies in hopes of collectively achieving something special. In short - a fullback is the ultimate team player.

There is a saying behind every great man, there is a great woman.

In the NFL, in front of every great running back, there is a great fullback.

Jamal Lewis certainly had a great season in 2007, rushing for 1,304 yards and 9 touchdowns. When asked about his fellow tailback, Lewis had nothing but good things to say.

"Lawrence is a great fullback who has come a long way in a short period of time," running back Jamal Lewis said.

"I put my trust in him, and he puts his trust in me."

Backup Jason Wright seems to agree. Wright had limited time with the first team last season, but during his reps he was able to recognize the tremendous talent Vickers brought to the team.

"As a running back, you like a fullback like Lawrence," Wright said. "He reads things like he was a ball carrier because he has carried the ball. When you're going up into the hole, you know that he's seeing the same thing you're seeing. So you know how he's going to react and you can act accordingly."

Wright was referring to Vickers' sensational high school career as a running back. Vickers was the starting tailback for the Houston-based Forest Brook High School Jaguars. During his four year career, Vickers rushed for over 4,600 yards on 345 carries (averaging 13.4 YPC) while accumulating a whopping 70 touchdowns en route to two playoff births in the football-crazed state of Texas.

With the past success Vickers has garnered, it would be easy to assume the lack of statistic success in the Pros would leave him bitter and jealous.

It is just the opposite.

"All players talk about being selfless, but in truth, a lot of us aren't," Wright said with a smile. "We want the stats and all that stuff."

"But Lawrence really is selfless. He doesn't think about himself."

Vickers' team-first attitude along with his physical style of football make him the best offensive player on the Cleveland Browns' roster.

  1. King, Steve. "Vickers combines punch, agility". 6/12/08 from [
    cle.php?id=8516] Accessed October 10th, 2008
  2. Lawrence Vickers Biography from [
    /player.php?id=501] Accessed October 10th, 2008
  3. New York Giants defensive statistics courtesy of [
    nts/depthchart?team=NYG] Accessed October 10th, 2008

The Browns will need Lawrence Vickers and the rest of the offensive line more than ever Monday night when the undefeated Giants come to Cleveland Browns Stadium in a must-win game on Monday night. The Giants are known for a relentless pass rush which is tied for 3rd in the league with 15 quarterback sacks.

This tenacity comes at a price.

The average weight of a starting New York Giants' linebacker is 238 pounds - 290 for the defensive line. For the Browns to be successful against a tough New York front seven, they will need to make their presence felt at the line of scrimmage by pounding the ball directly at the Giants defenders.

Running the ball with Jamal Lewis to the left side of the offensive line seems to be the best strategy. Undersized defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (6'5", 265lbs) will match up against Pro Bowler Joe Thomas (6'6", 303lbs) in what will be the most interesting contest of the day. Kiwanuka's pass rush ability may get the best of the young tackle, but Thomas will undoubtedly make up for that in the running game. Couple the strong side of the offensive line with two bruising backs in Vickers and Lewis - and you have the makings of an advantage the Browns should be able to ride to victory.

Bold Predictions
  • If Jamal Lewis carries the ball over 22 times on Monday night, the Browns will win.
  • If Brandon Jacobs carries the ball over 22 times on Monday night, the Browns will lose.
  • If Braylon Edwards records over 8 receptions, the Browns will win.
  • Final Score: New York 20, Cleveland 24

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 6, 2008 3:00 am
Edited on: October 6, 2008 4:02 am

LeBron James: King or Traitor?

We Are All Witnesses

Or at least during the NBA season. Throughout every other time in the year, Cleveland sports fans are nothing more than sources of admiration and revenue for a man who is widely regarded as the face of the city.

That's right folks, I'm talking about LeBron James - the self-proclaimed King of Cleveland.

Now let me start off by saying I have nothing against LeBron James personally or even as an athlete. He is easily the most talented superstar ever to don a Cleveland uniform in the past 20 or maybe even 30 years. When it's all said and done, James may very well be the best basketball player of all time. LeBron has contributed so much to the city of Cleveland - both in reputation and financial gain that it's hard to hate the guy. For everything we owe him, I have only one small problem:

LeBron James hates Cleveland.

I say this with a great deal of caution. James does not hate Cleveland in the Braylon Edwards joking sense, but rather an I don't give a crap how you feel sense.

For the few who do not know, LeBron James is not only a die-hard Yankees fan, but a Dallas Cowboys fan as well. Those two facts, while painful in their own right, are not enough to draw this particular writer's ire. Athletes are imported from across the country, so obviously pre-determined allegiances to foreign sports franchises are a given. The issue with James is he does such a good job of rubbing that in our faces.

LeBron James supports both the Cowboys and Yankees.

Flashback to the year 2003. James was selected as the first overall pick in the NBA draft and Cleveland was ecstatic. A phenomenal talent who grew up two hours from city limits was drafted with the hopes of turning our most lowly franchise around. James was a young, charismatic, and charming star who we all embraced as our own. It was a match made in heaven.

Over the next five years, James did little to disappoint. His stellar play on the field and his impeccable reputation off lifted the Cavaliers from the depths of obscurity into the national spotlight.

And we supported him.

According to Neil Schwartz of Sports Scan Info, LeBron James' rookie jersey sales were far and away the most popular of any basketball player, grossing 1.5 million sales in his first year. To put that in perspective, James' 1.5 million jerseys sold in 2004 amounts to 5,542 sales...per day. Carmello Anthony, second in sales, recorded 630,000 sales that year - not even half of LeBron's figure.

So season after season passed, and Cleveland was still enamored with the local hero. LeBron remained the affable young man who brought this city to the brink of championship gold. No one questioned King James or his loyalty until a little over one year ago.

On October 3rd, 2008 the Cleveland Indians hosted the hated New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, and our beloved basketball King made an appearance at the game. Prior to the game, James was quoted on Saturday Night Live as saying that he would openly spurn the Indians by cheering for the New York Yankees.

And true to form, James did not disappoint.

LeBron showed up at the game in a fresh Yankee fitted - much to the chagrin of Cleveland fans. James flaunted his hat - at one point taking it off and holding it above his head for all the crowd to see. The controversial incident was discussed at length on local television, radio, and newspaper shows - with opinions varying on the alleged offense. No general consensus was reached, and the incident died down as soon as it arose.

Three weeks ago we all had the privilege of seeing LeBron James once again outside of Quicken Loans Arena. This time, it was James schmoozing it up with members of the Dallas Cowboys on the visiting sidelines at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that is taking it too far. Why should LeBron spurn the fans who have shown him nothing but loyalty and support since his arrival to the NBA? We are the ones who spend hard earned dollars to support his team, yet he openly snubs ours.

We wear his apparel and he doesn't wear ours.
We root for him and he roots for our opponents.

Question: Which two things here do not belong?

There is absolutely no reason why LeBron James needs to cause such a stir. How does it make us look as fans when we are so loyal to a man who seemingly only cares about himself? Pretty bad, I'll say.

Even if you love the Yankees and Cowboys, why not downplay that fact?  Whether James realizes it or not, image and loyalty mean something to sports fans. 30 years from now when we're discussing LeBron's legacy in Cleveland sports history, it may be tainted due to this stupid show of arrogance.

And it gets worse.

LeBron's latest shoe, the AirZoom V, is covered in navy and white pinstripes: clearly an homage to his love for the Yankees.

You know what? If LeBron really wants to take a bite out of the Big Apple and chooses to leave Cleveland, so be it. The last thing I want to see is James pull a Brett Favre and hold the city hostage for whatever dollar figure he sees fit. A departure from C-Town would immediately destroy the surreal nature of his career and personality, as well as annihilate any legendary status he may garner. James would go from beloved icon to another athlete in search of fame and fortune.

Since LeBron wants to be "Like Mike," why not follow in Jordan's footsteps and at least try to get along with a city clearly in love with you? Never once can I recall seeing Michael Jordan attend a Chicago Bears' game while fully clad in a Packers' gear...

Only time will tell, but these recent backlashes at Cleveland sports teams sure look like the start of a tumultuous relationship. Hopefully LeBron wises up and protects his image from further damage. I would hate for something so simple to put a black mark on a storybook career and legacy.

LeBron James hates Cleveland, and if this continues Cleveland just may hate LeBron too.

  1. "LeBron spurns Tribe, sports Yankee Cap" Official Major League Baseball Website, Accessed October 6, 2008
  2. "A Yankee fan from head to toe" Cleveland Plain Dealer, Accessed October 6, 2008
  3. "New school rookies top NBA jersey sales", ESPN Internet Ventures, Accessed on October 6, 2008
Posted on: October 3, 2008 5:07 am

Romeo Crennel is a Great Head Coach

It's true, Romeo Crennel is a great NFL head coach.

Based on what I have seen and heard about him, I couldn't be happier to have such a man of high character represent the Cleveland Browns. Romeo's leadership, interpersonal skills, and positive attitude are the perfect fit for a team who hasn't been able to sustain success since the late 1980's.

When evaluating a head coach, it is necessary to break his job down in terms of his different tasks. Probably the biggest task an NFL coach faces is personnel management. Benching, cutting, motivating, encouraging, and believing in the people around you is the most important responsibility a head coach has. If a strong relationship cannot be formed between coach and player, all else is lost. Since trust is the basis of any relationship, it is no coincidence that is the one trait all successful coaches share.

Generally speaking, there are two different ways head coaches earn trust. Guys like Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick and the great Vince Lombardi used intimidation as well as their knowledge of the game to garner their players' respect. Andy Reid, Dick Vermeil, Marty Schottenheimer, and Tony Dungy took a more compassionate route - gaining trust through loyalty, kindness, and honesty. Both coaching philosophies are equally effective as evident by the coaches' success, so one way isn't strictly better than the other.

Crennel obviously falls under the latter - as he is the quintessential "players coach". With Romeo Crennel, there's always a positive side to everything. If you listen closely when he speaks, rarely will you find a trace of negativity regarding his subordinates and this team. Rarely will you hear him say the Browns lost a game. Instead, "the team was unable to win." A player never does a bad job. There are simply "things that he needs to improve on."

Such positive thinking is crucial for the Cleveland Browns, which ultimately makes Crennel the right man for the job. Even with the lofty preseason expectations, there were still just as many negative football analysts predicting failure upon the team - and rightfully so. Winning is all that matters in this league, and quite frankly the Browns have not done much of that over the past 15 years. This dryspell of success makes it difficult for people around the league to respect the team - and that eventually trickles down to the players and the fanbase.

Coach Crennel's presence helps to change some of that.

Thanks in large part to his success in New England and New York, Crennel has the resume to back up his personable demeanor. This credibility lends itself well to players buying into the system and in turn encourages them to give maximum effort on every play. For whatever reason, Cleveland Browns fans are incapable of believing in Crennel despite the fact that every GM and player in close contact him him has only good things to say. The cause of this undoubtedly stems from the small sample most Browns fans have to see coach Crennel.

And sometimes that sample is not pretty.

Crennel's critics point to his gametime decision making and seemingly undisciplined football team as evidence of his incompetence. The Browns have committed 37 penalties this season, trailing only the Carolina Panthers as the most penalized team in football. Part of that falls on the head coach and the rest falls on the players. The fact is, Romeo isn't out there moving early on false starts. He's not out there on defense lining up in the neutral zone. Crennel and his coaching staff can only do so much, and it's up to the players to avoid the mental mistakes that have plagued this team thus far.

The conservative game management is a part of his style. Questionable timeout and in-game management decisions have become his M.O., and have drawn the ire of this particular gentledawg. The only thing we can do as Browns fans is hope management corrects these problems and learns from them in the future.

Romeo Crennel is with fault. The problems he has are correctable and I have faith they will only make him better.

Crennel's steadfast resolve and affable nature anchor a young and upcoming football team. Under his steady hand, the Cleveland Browns have direction - and are on the right course. The troubles plaguing our team will eventually correct themselves over the season - and this ship will finally be able to set sail.

Destination? The playoffs.
Posted on: September 28, 2008 5:07 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2008 6:13 pm

Week 4: A Win is a Win, No Matter How Small

We won! We won! The Cleveland Browns won!

It's nice to see the team finally get on the good side of the win/loss column. For a while there, I thought it might be time to dust off the ol' brown paper bag...

The Good

  • Victory: We finally won a football game! As much as I'd like to say the Browns won today, they really didn't. The Cincinnati Bungals did more to determine the outcome of this game than the Brownies did. The penalties, the inexperienced backup quarterback, the timeout management, and the lack of execution did the Bengals in and eventually cost them the game.
  • The Gameplanning: Despite a Carson Palmer-less offense and a notoriously susceptible defense, I thought Mel Tucker and Rob Chudzinski developed a good game plan against Cincinnati. On defense, the Browns did not let T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson single-handedly beat them. Short completions were sacrificed over the middle of the field, but for the most part the Browns contained the injury-plagued Bengals. As expected, the offensive game plan was spear-headed by a contrite Chudzinski determined to get the most out of Jamal Lewis.
  • Braylon Edwards' TD celebration: Classy! I liked that little tribute to Cleveland's strong rock 'n' roll history. Those powerful guitar chords were nice to see. An overall tasteful celebration.  Braylon dropped to one knee - which scared me with the new celebration rules. Players are not allowed to leave their feet - which Braylon did not; however one knee generally equals two feet in the NFL and I'm glad the officials didn't call him for it. On a side note: I wonder what song he was thinking about...
The Bad

  • Game Management: I'll continue to harp on this until I see the team improve. While the game management had vastly improved from weeks past, it was far from perfect. Two situations really jumped out at me in this game:
  1. At the end of the second quarter, the Browns came up with a stop with :50 seconds left. With two timeouts left for the half, the Browns should have used one of them to give themselves a chance after the field goal attempt. Josh Cribbs is a great return man and if he gave us decent field position, we could have taken a shot at the end zone or at least gotten into field goal range with a timeout at our disposal.
  2. 4th and 5 leading 17-12 with 3:30 left to play in the second half on the Cincinnati 37. Personally, I would have tried for the conversion. Since the Bengals did not have any timeouts, a conversion of 5 yards essentially wins you the game. A punt only nets 17 yards on a touchback, and the last thing you want is to give the Bengals a shot at driving 80 yards and winning the contest.
  • Derek Anderson: While I wouldn't characterize his performance as "bad", it certainly wasn't good. Anderson missed a few throws such as the pass thrown at Heiden's knees and the interception, but he played within himself which was good enough for a Browns' victory. Anderson's second half play inspired hope for the offensive unit, and perhaps served as something to build on for week 6.
The Ugly

  • This game: Yup, it was ugly. The penalties, fumbles, missed tackles, and timeout management for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals were downright sloppy. I'm glad to see both teams represented the state of Ohio so well. The biggest message I'd like Romeo to deliver to the team over the next two weeks is one driven by avoiding complacency. From an in-game perspective, the Browns should have very little to feel good about after leaving Cincinnati. Make no mistake about it, there still is work to be done.

Paul Brown must have been looking down on these two Ohio teams today with shame and embarrassment . The organizational fundamentals and discipline Brown made so famous with both franchises was no where to be seen on Sunday afternoon. The Browns need to clean up their play, retool, and focus over the bye week. The New York Football Giants will pose a more serious challenge, and the Browns will have no chance to compete in their current condition.

But hey - now's not the time to get down about that. Today's win means there's still a glimmer of hope in Cleveland - albeit a small one. The first step to a cinematic ending is to write the script - and we have a great starting point heading into the bye week. After all, you can't have a movie script without drama and controversy, right?

The national stage has been set! Coming soon to a theater near you: Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or