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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cheddar Bay Leaderboard

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Clearing the decks.

Saluting Athens and Holmes counties.

Frozen with indecision on the direction to take with the next post,,, so hows about a Frowndup so to speak?  One replete with employment of the royal ‘we’ .. use of which is also a subject of indecision this morning.

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Can you write about the history of the game without using that person’s name?
We were struck to find this phrase used to describe the number one criterion for HOF induction in Newsome’s piece yesterday after it had been employed by Jamison Hensley in his pro-Art column yesterday (here).

But we’re growing to disturbed after unearthing two more HOF voters working the same bogus-ness:

This question is pretty touchy-feely.  Philosophical questions are raised.  If we introduce Kierkegaard’s concept of “Truth as Subjectivity,″ then we suggest that you can’t write the history of pro-football without using the @jimkanicki twitter handle.  Kant might agree.

To our thinking, this premise reflects base laziness and absolves the voter from any responsibility for research.  Much like our attempt to the move the discussion of Modell’s HOF induction toward review of his credentials, here is another challenge presented to us to topple ingrained thinking.  It do get wearying.

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Ozzie Newsome: Obtuse sycophant or just really loyal?

Ozzie Newsome, 2012

We knew this was coming.  I guess.

Ozzie Newsome wrote a pro-Art opinion piece for the The Plain Dealer today.

Let’s just work through this and see what we find.  Ozzie’s words are in grey.

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I am a Cleveland Brown and I will always be a Cleveland Brown. I was proud to wear that orange helmet for 13 years and represent all those great Browns fans who were so good in supporting my team throughout my career.

Although I love the Baltimore Ravens and am proud to be the team’s executive vice president and general manager, I never played for this team. I am a Brown.

Fine.

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And I believe Art Modell should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If Art were an architect: Nashville’s Batman Bldg.
Also in portfolio Boston City Hall and Huntington Bank Bldg.

My reasons are the same as most of the voters for putting any person into the Hall of Fame: Can you write about the history of the game without using that person’s name?

What a convenient, bizarre, absurd, subjective metric this is.  We’re supposed to play “Let’s Pretend” in order to make the case for Art.  Can we play dress-up too?

[Other names you can’t write NFL history without:  Pisarcik, Norwood, Pardee, Jackie Smith, Earnest Byner, Bart Scott, Drew Bledsoe… if you’ve got more, log em in comments here.]

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You can’t write the NFL history without Art. He was an architect of the game we love today.

Architect is a large word.  And there are good architects and bad architects.  True enough, Art was the architect of:

  • a .500 record post Paul Brown in Cleveland;
  • the money-first NFL TV policy;
  • ransoming regional taxpayer bases for public funds to subsidize a monopoly.

Fair.  Agreed.  Art was an architect.

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The first person who recognized that television and football were perfect for each other was Art Modell. He did that in the 1960s, became the chairman of the NFL’s TV committee and had that job for 31 years.

O RLY? (more…)

Cool it on the Browns uni re-design fervor

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Much respect for the effort and love coming Handmade Uniform Designer. Welcome to the bro-hood of Browns fandom.

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I really don’t want to get busy with a uniform thing here but the above happened today.
I do say, God Bless You handmade uniform designer.  You care, you’re invested, welcome to the brotherhood.

But count me among the smaller and smaller number of people who see the uniform talk as a metaphor for form-over-substance talk but real.

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Here’s where I’m at on this:  I love our uniforms.

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Falsest equivalency: Al Davis and Art Modell

1980:  That's our RedRight88 trophy.

That’s our RedRight88 trophy.

I don’t mean to be a one-trick pony here with the Modell HOF thing. But -quick update- it’s becoming clear that the argument in favor of Art is centered on:

Ok Art, you win this round.

  1. Rozelle’s ‘right hand man,’ willing to speak at league meetings, liked by other owners;
  2. TV;
  3. Other owners in the Hall moved their teams; if Al Davis is in, Art should be in.

The first bullet speaks to Art’s likability. We have no reason to doubt that he was a nice man; I liked him too.  Round of applause for dating Suzanne Pleshette.  But is adroit cronyism really a HOF credential? This is the Hall-of-Fame not the Hall-of-Affable-Bon-Vivants.

Television we dealt with in the big post. (I’m surprised that many hang in with Art on this. It was good to hear Peter King yesterday say that he looks at the TV contribution through a prism of ‘could someone else have been as effective?’)

But the third generated a reflexive Tourette’s spasm. whatthefuckareyoushittingme?  Check this quote and see if you don’t have the same reaction:

” ‘… I asked [Modell] about his chances of ever reaching Canton. His response: “I know [Raiders owner] Al Davis is in and he moved the team twice. Doesn’t that say something to you?’

It’s hard to argue against Modell on this point. … The Hall can’t have one set of rules for Davis and another for Modell.”  — Jamison Hensley, ESPN

No Mr. Hensley, it’s easy to argue Modell’s point.  You just need some objectivity and curiosity.

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Where to start with this false equivalency?

They were two Jewish kids from Brooklyn. That’s where it ends. (more…)

Adopt a Brownie

I got linked by Starting Blocks today. Three links actually. The Modell piece of course. Today’s pre-emptive just stop with any Al Davis Art Modell comparisons. And my ‘About‘ page.

[That last link was a little awkward what with my frank appraisal of cleveland.com’s forum there.]

$35.00 + $7.99 shipping + 0.00 (NH tax!)
= $42.99 for my Kanicki

But I took a look at the Jim Kanicki pics on the page and it got me thinking. The last pic is linked to a site where you can buy an autographed 8×10. It’s short money. I got my autographed Kanicki for under $40.

Here is what I thought.

You know: these guys didn’t get paid dick when they were compiling the .750 winning percentage that I (we) have been hammering Modell for inheriting and not sustaining. There was no 401k then. Everyone knows their pension is squat. Might could we help them out or just send a small gratuity for their role in building this team we love so much? (more…)

Wow. Thanks.

So.

Yesterday’s Modell piece got some traction.

Trajectory not sustainable.

Trajectory not sustainable.

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Art Modell has no Hall of Fame credentials.

Are we doing this again?

Yes, we’re doing this again and we’re doing it comprehensively. It’s a lunar eclipse at high tide plus Halley’s comet set of coalescing events: Modell’s HOF vote occurs in two Saturdays (Feb. 2), months after his death, and with the Ravens in Super Bowl week. The drumbeat to vote him in from all places uninformed and uninvested will be loud. We need a link reviewing Modell’s ‘credentials’ and we need it fast.

Here is the thesis: Art Modell was a corrupt and failed businessman without HOF credentials in the categories of football, business, or civic contribution¹.

This is not personal.
This is not vendetta.
This is not a bitter Browns fan with a grudge; this is specifically not sour grapes.

This is a factual review of Art Modell’s career as owner of the Cleveland Browns.

There is nothing in his record the rises to the level of Hall-of-Famer. On the contrary, the record shows he did more to hurt than to help pro football.

(Unless you think that holding cities and fan-bases hostage for publicly funded stadia is a good thing.)

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#haterz
In the national discussions likely to take place this week you will not hear the problems with Art Modell’s candidacy detailed by our friends in national sports journalism. Here is a prototype example:

LEN SHAPIRO, MODELL VOTER.
WANTS YOU TO SHOW A LITTLE CLASS FOR A CHANGE.

… give it up already, show a little magnanimity and stop all this vengeful hate mongering. Modell belongs in the Hall of Fame for countless reasons. His haters belong in the Hall of Shame.

Len Shapiro, Journalism school graduate

Exactly. Putting aside the hacky clichés, Shapiro’s comment is typical of the credential presentation you will see from Modell fans. It’s a mix of haughtiness and judgement and snark and bereft of data in support of Modell. Shapiro paints Modell’s HOF argument as a struggle against Clevelanders. YOU are the problem Mr. Cleveland fan. YOU are unforgiving. YOU are vengeful. YOU are a hater.

(Sometimes they’ll bring it all the way to: YOU are the reason Modell was forced to leave.)

Be prepared. Moving into this week and next you will hear about Modell leaving Cleveland. And then you will be fed an ‘equal-time’ segment from Baltimore fans/reporters saying he should be in the Hall of Fame. Contriving that “… fans of Cleveland and Baltimore clearly benefited from a move that left both cities with magnificent new stadiums, …” (!!) Saying Cleveland should get over it. You will hear clap-trap about TV contracts. What you will not hear are sound qualifications for his induction to Canton.

This is because there are no sound qualifications for his induction to Canton.

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Mike Lombardi: the post-Belichick years

He's lost weight; this is good.

He’s lost weight; this is good.

Alrighty. LOMBARDI TALK!! Can we find something to like in his history? Can we overcome the reflexive suspicion of ‘football people’ commanding us to trust them? Welp. That’s today’s goal. Let’s hit it.

[First, bookkeeping: I want to link to the Lombardi-Browns draft compilation I put forward on Frowns for reference. Here tis. It’s ugly. We’re not talking about that today.]

Lombardi has a kinda sketchy Wikipedia entry. In it, we learn he’s not related to Vince Lombardi and I haven’t decided whether or not to give him a pass on his high-end dog choice. But it provides a decent resume to work from so let’s do.

Lagotto Romagnolo. Not found in rescue shelters.

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Rams consultant, 1996
Prepared advisory reports for ownership during head coach search.

Since Rich Brooks was fired by the Rams after coaching them in 95-96, we’re going to assume the 1997 Rams coaching hire is the one Lombardi weighed in on.

It turns out 1997 had an active coaching carousel: eleven new head coaches. Coslet-Bengals, Parcells-Jets, Bugel-Raiders, Gilbride-Chargers, Carroll-Pats, Ditka-Saints, Fassel-Giants, Reeves-Falcons, Ross-Lions, Mariucci-Niners. Breaks down like this:

  • three HC jumps (Parcells, Reeves, Ross),
  • four OCs (Coslet, Bugel, Gilbride, Fassel),
  • one DC (Carroll),
  • one college HC (Mariucci),
  • one TV analyst with ten years success and five years on sideline (Ditka),
  • and one TV analyst who’d been on the sideline for fifteen years.

Yep, that last one is where the Lombardi/Rams analysis seems to have settled: 61 year old Dick Vermeil. (And not for nothing, the Rams grabbed BUD CARSON for their DC in 1997 too.)

As tempting as it is to kill that as a broadcaster-crony selection… Vermeil wins a Super Bowl for the Rams in 1999.

Score one for Lombardi.

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Kosar needed to be cut.

So it looks like Cleveland-hates-Lombardi will be a thing for a bit.  That’s fine, it lets Kanick save some bullets.  There won’t be much college basketball here and sparse pre-season baseball content… and god help me if I’m doing another seven round mock draft like last year.*  No. But..  How bout an Oscar preview?!!  And I surely wish to record my opinions on two new-found favorite movies, Beer League and Goon… how did I miss those until now?

But I digress.  We’re gonna beat the Lombardi horse a bit more.  I saw an angle worth looking at on The Reboot:

… THEN, there is his connection to Belichick and dumping Kosar, etc. These are things that still sting Browns’ fans – even though most Browns fans need to let it go.”  —Kolonich.

THIS.  Makes me nuts.  It’s more than ‘let it go’ Dave; Bernie fans need to recalibrate entirely.  This Belichick-cut-Kosar thing is the number one issue I have with Browns fans.  This is the one.  Molto rispetto to my bros wearing orange on Sundays.. except for this.  Love my Browns fans but Kosar is your Herpes flare-up.  Your bad sweater.  Your eighth Jim Beam.  Really sometimes makes it hard to co-exist.

Hey.

You want to like Bernie for coming home and for having a couple good years in the 80s?  Fine by me.  Let’s face it, it’s better football than anything we’ve seen lately.  We’re also as tribal a community as there is and that’s a good thing; it’s good that our impulse is to close ranks for our extended family.

You want to say Bernie’s leadership and defense reading were intangibles that can’t be measured?  I’ll buy that.  Kinda ironic that calling his own plays was one of the things that killed him with Belichick… fair to say that, in this case, Belichick didn’t adjust to his personnel back then.

But for now and for the rest of this post, let’s try to get real on Kosar.  A case can be made that he was never that great.  That’s actually NOT the case I’m making today.  Today is about the lay-up of whether or not Belichick should have cut Kosar and corollary on Kosar’s diminishing skills.

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So here’s the home-town hero.  Here’s that never-imitated release point:

 

2nd/24? Get the roughing call.

Here’s Bernie’s greatest play.  The picture at right doesn’t do it justice.  Here’s a video clip.  I start the clip from the preceding play because that pocket collapsing sack is the lasting Kosar memory for me.  Don’t forget this signature win included a pick in the 4thQ to give Jets a 10 point lead.   But it was his gangly awkward-ness helped him make his seminal play:  drawing a [soft] roughing call on Marc Gastineau on a 2nd/24.

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Jim Nantz and the fraternity you don’t belong to.

Jim Nantz had a 15 minute interview with Bull and Fox yesterday.  Nantz’ reason for coming on local radio was obviously to present a recommendation on behalf of his friend Mike Lombardi in the face of a fair amount of disdain for Lombardi’s past record as a personnel guy in the NFL (and also notable commentary on Lombardi’s interpersonal compass).

It was astounding.  You have never heard Nantz like this.  He crossed over the line of objective and candid to haughty, catty, and small no, let’s say ‘real.’  I don’t want to kill Nantz on this because I like warts, we all have them, and it’s somewhat affirming that Nantz may have some too.

We’re going to dig into a lot of his comments below.  But my primary takeaway was:  Wow.  These guys ride in an insular world.  I can’t fault Nantz for playing Pebble Beach with Fred Couples, but I do think his frame of reference would benefit from signing on as a single for 18 holes at Pine Brook.  Love the passion Jim, but I can’t help but think you’d have said the same on behalf of Mike Holmgren after a round with him at Sahalee.  As for the rest of us who just watch the team year after year, we have a healthy and well-founded skepticism of NFL lifers ‘who know football more than we do.’

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None of you know more football than Bill Belichick with whom I met because I am in Foxboro covering the AFC Championship Game.

Let’s dig in.

“…with all great respect, I think [Browns fans are the] best football fans in the country, [but] they don’t really know what they’re talking about with this hire.  I think they have been believing what they’re reading and … they don’t always have the greatest sources of information.”

So some of this is good.  I don’t doubt he’s pulling for Cleveland and he doesn’t strike me as a smoke-blower.  We ARE great fans and if he says we’re best, well fine.  But if we don’t have the greatest sources of info.. well wtf?  Why don’t we?  Your own damn company is paying a BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR* presumably to provide coverage of the NFL.  Do you know how many damn Pitbull Bud Light commercials I’ve watched?  Get us some decent sources of info Jim!

“I’ve been reading the vicious remarks and character assassination about Mike by some people in the media … who ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

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