If there was ever a day for the Browns to have beaten the Ravens, a franchise that’s been running on reputation and fumes in the post-Ray Lewis era, and one that came to town yesterday with the Ray Rice domestic violence cover-up having just been exposed as an historically spectacular microcosm of everything that’s wrong with everything on planet earth (or at least at the intersection of sports and capitalism in America). At certain points in the life cycle of most NFL divisions, consecutive seasons of high drafting by the weaker teams and the depreciation and increasing expense of the rosters of the stronger teams results in a natural shift in the division’s balance of power. Yesterday, the Browns could have sent a clear message that such a shift is actually, finally, after 15 years, under way in the AFC North when it comes to the Cleveland team, playing in front of a home crowd that was electrified by that prospect, as well as the chance that the Browns would have a winning record after three games for just the second time in the last decade.
Naturally, the Browns lost. This time by two points on a last-second field goal after having failed to score on two fourth-quarter drives deep into Baltimore territory.
There’s a laundry list of potential reasons why this one got away, a list that’s fairly impressive even when it comes to a Browns game. One might point to any of a number of individual plays as having turned the contest decisively in the Ravens’ favor (50-yard field goal attempt hits the upright, wide-open receiver hit in stride on 70-yard pass falls down, 36-yard field goal attempt is blocked, punt returner abdicates duty to catch punt, 35-year-old receiver beats 60-million-dollar cornerback on game’s final drive).
Yet still, and as tiresome as second-guessing football plays can be, one of these plays stands out as the worst of all by far: Mike Pettine’s decision to punt on 4th-and-1 from the Ravens’ 45-yard line early in the second quarter.
This was just the Browns’ second drive of the game, and they were up 7-3 thanks to an 80-yard touchdown march on their first drive. This second drive got off to a bad start when, thanks to [click to continue…]
When he arrived in Cleveland in 2012, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam wasted no time making clear that the NFL franchise he wants to emulate is the Dallas Cowboys, a team with only one playoff win in 17 years, but one that’s established itself as the best in the league at squeezing every last dime out of its brand. Since the end of last season, Browns fans seeking hope that their team might ever become anything more on Haslam’s watch than a low-rent version of Jerryworld haven’t had a whole lot to go on.
Most of this has already been pretty well covered elsewhere, so let’s put aside the fact that Haslam, entering his third season as Browns owner, is now on his third head coach/GM pairing. Let’s also ignore the historic laughingstock of a search that landed Mike Pettine in Cleveland, and the subsequent canning of the GM/President team that conducted that search. Let’s assume for now that despite that whole mess, and Haslam in general, and all of Browns 2.0 history since 1999, and all of Cleveland sports history since 1964 that Pettine and Ray Farmer are the best coach and GM the franchise could have asked for, and that they’ll each get a fair chance to prove as much. Free from the distraction of these memories, it’s easier to focus on the Browns’ path forward, which at this point depends in significant part on the idea that the Browns’ impossible 15-year-and-counting quarterback void will finally be filled by Johnny Manziel.
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The following was written by Cleveland sports fan, paralegal, and playwright Andrew Scheid, a Northeast Ohio native currently living in Chicago.
During the final minutes of last month’s World Cup match between the US and Belgium, I joined an army of bodies crammed into a tiny gelato shop near my office in downtown Chicago to watch the end of the game. Naturally, every set of eyes in the café was locked on the screen. Individuals who previously failed to utter a word to each other during regular encounters in elevators and hallways were laughing and sharing stories, instantly united by the national team playing on a global stage. But of course, not everything on the ground in Brazil was fun and games, with FIFA’s corporate machine having ushered in policies of massive housing displacement and police brutality in the name of the soccer tournament, along with the allocation of billions in public funds for stadiums with severely limited use.
Days later, the announcement of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland offered another reminder of the unparalleled capacity of sports to unite strangers into a community, as well as the danger created by corporate exploitation of this unifying power. Naturally, the basketball superstar’s decision brought out a collective euphoria in Northeast Ohio residents, with massive crowds gathered in downtown Cleveland to celebrate the prospect that the Northeast Ohio native would return home to lead the nation’s longest and most suffering sports town to a long-awaited championship. Yet after 4 years of petulance and poor planning,” for reasons apparent to no one, the biggest financial beneficiary of James’ return is the Sultan of Subprime himself, Dan Gilbert.
Gilbert, of course, has already gotten plenty of leverage out of James’ talent, especially … Click here to continue reading at Belt Magazine …
“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.” — Francis Bacon
“If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.” — William Blake
As much as only a damn fool would [click to continue…]
Folks in Cleveland and everywhere are fairly up in arms over the disparity between the NFL’s recent 2-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for having (allegedly) violently battered his wife, and the whopping 16-game suspension that star Browns receiver Josh Gordon is expected to receive pursuant to league policy for having tested positive for marijuana use.
The NFL’s lack of regard for the humanity of females has been pretty well pointed out in this story, and the “hit women, not joints” jokes have been made. But remaining underappreciated in all this is the extent to which the nation’s prison state mirrors that of its National Football League when it comes to a “war on drugs.” Not that it’s much of a surprise to see a multi-billion-dollar corporation violate the public interest by manipulating a set of bad laws, but the NFL’s marijuana policy offers an especially clear example.
Plenty of this is absurd enough on its face. Gordon was able to lead the NFL in receiving in just 14 games last season, breaking three league records and three more franchise records despite his “drug problem,” and despite … Click here to continue reading at Belt Magazine …
If we’ve learned anything in the days since LeBron James announced that he’ll return to his native Northeast Ohio to play again for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s that the reports of locals burning his jersey had been greatly exaggerated.
Not only did the majority of Cavs fans never burn their gear, they didn’t throw it out or hand it off to Goodwill, either. Hell, even Dan Gilbert and his family hung on to their LeBron gear, per the Cavs’ owner’s (possibly apocryphal) tweet: “My 8-year-old: ‘Daddy, does this mean I can finally wear my Lebron jersey, again?’…Yes it does, son. Yes it does!”
No, those jerseys at Gilbert’s house and others were tucked safely in closets and basements, tacit reminders of the hope Northeast Ohioans held that LeBron might one day come home and they’d wear them again.
Last Friday night, they did.
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