Some people are fans of the Cleveland Browns. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cleveland Browns. This 2014 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group.
Your team: (sigh)
Your 2013 record: 4-12. And you know what? Things didn't start off THAT bad last season for Cleveland. They kicked Brandon Weeden to the curb after two weeks in favor of Brian Hoyer, who played really well in two consecutive victories. They traded Trent Richardson, a move that now looks monumentally shrewd, given that Trent Richardson is terrible (without that pick, the Browns would not have been able to draft Weeden's successor). Rob Chudzinski looked mildly competent (even though the team's first choice, Chip Kelly, spurned them, which will become a running theme here). Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron were tearing shit up. This team was on the rise! I bet they even got a little UP arrow next to them in the Week 4 power rankings and everything.
So that was the beginning. Now, here is what happened next, presented in bullet form, because there are too many glaring fuckups here to accommodate added insults:
- Hoyer blew out his knee
- The team won one more game before losing 10 of their next 11 games
- Bernie Kosar got a DUI
- Exec Joe Sandusky (son of Jerry) ALSO got busted for DUI
- The team signed a guy whose ACL was already torn
- Toddlers at the stadium started openly drinking
- The team was forced to play Brandon Weeden at quarterback again and again
- Wideout Davone Bess had a nervous breakdown
- The team facility's motivational quotes turned out to be fake
- Chudzinski was fired after just one season, supposedly because he wasn't adjusting his game plans enough for the front office, despite the fact that every goddamn player was injured
- Media people openly asked the owner and front office if they were the Three Stooges
- The team fired its GM and president, but only AFTER they had fired Chud and left everything in complete disarray. It's like letting the arsonist light the fuse before you decide, "Hey, maybe I should arrest that guy."
- Players openly derided the team, like so:
All of that happened. And yet, that was only the beginning! I'm going to tell you something: Most of these previews are just a rehashing of shit you already knew, because most teams don't change all that much from year to year. They all suck for the same reasons. And then… then there are teams like the Browns, who can spend a 12-month stretch fucking up in enough novel ways to fill up an entire book. Between the Browns and the Redskins, all the fucking up has been monopolized. They do not share their incompetence with other teams. They hog it all for themselves, which is kinda selfish, really.
Anyway, back to the sorrow:
Your coach: Mike Pettine, who was hired only after this team was shunned by Josh McDaniels. JOSH FUCKING MCDANIELS: the shittiest, brattiest coach in the universe. That was their first choice. That was the Browns reaching for the stars. Christ. Ask a Broncos fan about Josh McDaniels and they will tell you that he can get fucked with a shovel. That was Mike Lombardi's master plan for this team: to bring in Brian Hoyer and then let McDaniels run the show, because Mike Lombardi's life goal is apparently to execute all of Bill Belichick's discarded ideas. "Bill Belichick has Tom Brady. Let's grab the QB he doesn't need! Oooh, Bill Belichick just threw out his old toilet! I BET THAT'S A PRETTY FINE TOILET RIGHT THERE." What a fucking idiot. Such breathtakingly bad judgment resulted in this protest, which was the most Cleveland thing you will ever witness:
The Browns also made an attempt to trade for Jim Harbaugh, which failed, and pursued both Dan Quinn and Adam Gase, which also ended in failure. When the team consulted Belichick for the search, he recommended Greg Schiano (twice!), almost certainly as a prank. Owner and fucking crook Jimmy Haslam eventually cleaned out the entire front office, supposedly because he wanted Schiano and they did not, which represents a rare moment of clarity on the part of the Browns' personnel department. And yet, Haslam didn't hire Schiano, opting instead for the relatively anonymous Pettine, a charming meathead who is almost certainly in over his head, which is made of meat.
So that was the coaching search. After missing out on McDaniels, Gase, Quinn, Staphy McGee, Pepper Rodgers, The Rock, this bag of pebbles, and a hobo that Haslam believed to be enchanted, you got Pettine.
Your quarterback: Brian Hoyer. Preseason numbers: 18-36, 192 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT. That's in three appearances, and those numbers were good enough to win Hoyer the starting job, because this is Cleveland. Hoyer has been cut adrift from the support system that brought him to the Browns, and will cede his job in the coming weeks to this fella:
"There's too much money in my fucking hand!" Oh, don't worry, Johnny. Flip more people the bird, and the NFL's morality police will happily relieve you of that cash. Despite the fact that he looks and plays exactly like a less durable Tony Romo, Johnny Manziel is the single most exciting thing to happen to Cleveland football since Jim Brown. This is why, if you're a Cleveland fan, you will happily ignore the drinking on swans, and the nae nae, and the cash money celebration that Cleveland fans would DESPISE if a black player were doing it, and the friendship with Drake, and the selfie with Bieber, and the fact that he couldn't beat out Hoyer for the job, and the Patriots scouting report on Manziel that Lombardi probably jacks off to every night. All of that will be ignored in the hopes (prayers, really) that Manziel will stop mainlining Wild Turkey long enough to go out there and GUNSLING the Browns to a whopping six victories.
I say all this as someone who likes Manziel. I would prefer to ignore the rather obvious fact that Johnny is here for the money and the girls, and just pretend he's some magical throwback that can turn it on when the game starts, like John Belushi hitting every line in a sketch after shooting 50 speedballs. But my inner football tightass knows this isn't how it works. My inner football tightass knows that Manziel is about to get his ass kicked.
What's new that sucks: The Browns actually lucked into Manziel after daring to pass on him with their initial first round pick, so they cleaned up at the draft with both Manziel and corner Justin Gilbert. And yet, all of that joy was DESTROYED the moment the NFL declared its intention to suspend Josh Gordon back into the fucking Stone Age. While it's fun to draw comparisons between Ray Rice's punishment and Gordon's upcoming punishment (likely more than half the season), the fact that Gordon also has a DUI to his name suggests that he has genuine problems that need to be addressed. So yay.
To make up for the loss of Gordon, the team brought in Miles Austin (say his name three times and your hamstrings wither!), Andrew Hawkins, and professional space occupier Nate Burleson. Ben Tate, who is only productive when asked to steal carries from Arian Foster, is now the lead back, with rookie Terrance West potentially taking over at some point. Given that this is Cleveland, I assume all five of those players will die in some kind of milk tanker accident.
And here to coordinate this shitshow is… KYLE SHANAHAN?! Oh my God, you really hired Kyle Shanahan? Okay, well that will be fun. I look forward to Kyle clumsily leaking his displeasure with Manziel to every reporter within earshot by Week 6. If Johnny hyperextends his knee, expect Kyle to call fifty QB draws in a row. BUILDS STRENGTH. Kyle Shanahan is like a poor man's Josh McDaniels, which shouldn't be possible.
Your new GM is Ray Farmer. OR IS HE?!
We haven't really talked about the defense yet. That's probably for the best. The team imported aging veterans Donte Whinter and Karlos Dansby, apparently because the Browns just weren't old enough. I guess they want their decay to match the surrounding urban area. You're also getting new uniforms, Cleveland! NEXT YEAR, after watching this team fart around in their horrible old unis again for another full year. This team cannot time anything correctly. Also, that Kevin Costner movie looked horrible.
What has always sucked: This man:
FUN FACT: The going rate to get yourself out of Federal prosecution is now $92 million. That's how much Jimmy Haslam paid the government to avoid being formally charged with ripping his customers off. So now you know. The next a cop pulls you over for speeding on meth with a cage of smuggled Peruvian lizards in your trunk, slip that cop a cool $92 million and you'll be on your way. Jimmy Haslam is the scum of the fucking Earth.
What might not suck: Fuck the Browns. LEBRON IS BACK! Oh, you Clevelanders. You sure went from bitter to smug in a span of six seconds the moment King James decided to come back. He should write off his salary as a charitable donation.
Hear it from Browns fans!
We have tricked ourselves once again into thinking we are going to be a competitive football team. I'm not sure how we've done it, but nearly every Browns fan I know believes we will be good this year. From notable previous experience, I know these hopes will be swiftly and brutally murdered.
Fuck us, fuck us to Neptune and back.
If I have to hear that fucktard Chuck Booms on the radio say, "Hope springs eternal" one more time, I'm driving off the I-480 bridge.
Fuck Art Modell with Johnny Manziel's finger.
Fuck all that Cleveland loyalty shit. On your average trip to Walmart, or whatever high fructose corn syrup dispensary you go to in Ohio, you'll see more Ben Roethlisberger jerseys than Browns ones.
I'm 0-13 all time when in attendance at Browns games and when I tell people they aren't even impressed with that stat.
I can't believe that I left the fact that our head coaching search was the most pathetic thing ever attempted and ended by hiring a guy a who, when asked about taking the job said, "It's been a lifelong dream to be an NFL head coach and however that opportunity presents itself is fine with me." In essence, "I'm as surprised as all of you, but hey, looky who's the boss now!"
Did I mention that our owner just wrote a $90+MM check for fraud that DID NOT settle the action with Feds, and there could still be prosecution?
I never thought I would have to imagine a situation where rolling up a dollar bill in a Las Vegas bathroom on a Saturday night would be something other than what it obviously was. Uh . . . . . . he was . . . . . uh, um . . . . . golfing, and he ran out of tees!
I had to kid myself into thinking Colt McCoy and Carlton Mitchell were a competent offensive solution in 2010. I truly believed Peyton HIllis would return to form and wasn't going completely off the mental deep-end in 2011. I was 100% sure that Trent Richardson was the next Adrian Peterson and Brandon Weeden could function as a human being in 2012. I even thought that Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo would be the greatest DE duo in football in 2013. Now I'm forced to believe in a cocky bastard rich kid who hangs with Drake and Justin Bieber (while doing coke) on weekends, paired up with a coach who looks like Stone Cold Steve Austin's fatter brother.
This is a group of fans that decided to tailgate for a fucking movie premiere and cheer during the movie as if any of it were actually happening.
Fuck Art Modell.
I went to a Browns Bills game in Buffalo (I'm an idiot, I know) and ran into a fellow Browns fan who had a strong resemblance to Brownie the Elf. He creeped me out so much I had to offer him a beer to get the fuck away from me.
My two-year-old son attended a birthday party last month. I spotted another dad wearing a Cleveland Browns' hat. Here was my attempt at small talk with said dad:
Me (smiling, offering a handshake) It takes a lot of courage to wear a Cleveland Browns' hat in public.
Other dad: (very silent)
Me: Um, I'm a Cleveland Browns fan, too.
Other dad, after a long pause: Some day they are going to win.
I felt like a douche the rest of the day for assuming all Cleveland Browns fans had learned to laugh at themselves.
Before any of you fans from other cities think you have it worse than us, ask yourself:
1) Has your football team made it to the Super Bowl?
2) Do you have a sports franchise that won a championship (of any significance) in the last 66 years?
3) Did you cheer for a football team that moved to a different city, became a perennial contender (and won two Super Bowls), while, three years later, you received a bag of flaming shit on your door step with the words "Football Team" written on it in sharpie? Did that flaming bag of shit continue to burn for 15 years (and counting)?
4) Did the greatest basketball player of a generation make sweet championship babies with the least deserving city in the U.S., and then come crawling back to much adulation because your city is so goddamned starved for a championship that — like a man that has been in prison for several decades — it will take anything that remotely resembles what it's looking for to get the job done?
5) Has your "rival" football team beaten you 19 out of the last 21 times, the two exceptions being a 13-9 screamer played in -10 degree weather in 2009 and a 20-14 victory in which your Browns forced EIGHT TURNOVERS (3 INTs, 5 Fumbles) yet the game came down to the last possession?
6) Does your baseball team have the most racist logo in sports, but nobody gives a fuck because they haven't been relevant since the mid-1990s?
7) Did the only playmaker you've had in 25 years smoke and drink his way into what is looking more and more like a season-long suspension?
8) Has your football team played on Sunday or Monday Night Football since Barack Obama was serving as president?
Every single year I get excited about the impending Cleveland Browns season. Every single year I know I shouldn't be getting excited. Every single year I convince myself, that if EVERYTHING goes right, the Browns might go 8-8, which seems like an awfully modest goal. And every single year they go 5-11, or 4-12, miss out on the highest draft picks and lather, rinse, repeat.
On the bright side, it's going to be exciting to watch Johnny Football separate his shoulder trying to stretch a 3-yard gain into a meaningless first-down late in a game that doesn't matter because we were eliminated from playoff contention in mid-October.
Management just announced the addition of our new mascot, a dog named Swagger. I honestly did not see that one coming.
Two cleveland.com stories on August 8:
"Airstrikes undertaken as U.S. re-engages in Iraq." 7 comments
"Tracking Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer: Charting Browns QB Passes," 1,046 comments
Being a Browns fan is knowing you are going to lose but never knowing how.
What's it like being a life long Browns fan, you ask? Hold still while I get some brass knuckles and a mason jar of fire ants....
We have this stupid obsession with hiring "Cleveland guys". Fuck that. Get me some guy who has never set foot in Cleveland before his job interview.
Last season I traveled to Green Bay and watched my Browns get routed. This was the game where Jermichael Finley was taken off the field in a stretcher. After the game I encountered a fellow Browns fan who was wandering outside of Lambeau by himself. He was in his 20s and plastered, bald, overweight and sporting a pervert's mustache. When I asked him what he thought of the game he told me that he didn't attend because he was recently convicted of an OVI and couldn't afford a ticket. He then proceeded to heckle every Packers fan that passed him about Finley being nearly paralyzed.
Our new owner handles GMs and coaching staffs the way my gastrointestinal tract handles a Pilot/ Flying J hot dog. The lauded marketing "genius" Alec Scheiner is killing the soul of the fan base. They are slowly, and not subtly, phasing out tailgating so that we have to spend money in the stadium. They fired the opening salvo by airing a story on the local news about how people empty homeade urinals into the sewer system. They expanded it the following year by not allowing city parking lots to be open until 7 AM. This past Saturday, grilling and drinking were outlawed in previously designated tailgating lots.
They try to placate us by providing us with a better sound system and dual HD monitors, that the city had to pay for. You should have seen the "hearing" in front of the city council to ask for the funds. It basically went like this:
Joe Banner:"Give us $30 million dollars."
City Council: "OK"
Despite the "improvements" the food is still lousy and not a single beer vendor came within three sections of us. To top things off, I caught the annual Cleveland summer cold in the process.
Being a Browns fan has caused me more depression than learning that my girlfriend of two years was cheating on me the whole time.
For three hours I have been trying to think of something witty to say about the Browns but now I am just pissed off after thinking about the Browns for three hours.
I was raised a Yankee fan. I started rooting for the Browns to even up my karma. So far, so good.
I was working in a shoe store when a guy in a Browns hat came in. He told me he would give me $100 if I could tell him which president was on the bill. He didn't give me squat when I correctly told him there was no president on a $100 bill.
This time every year, the same deadbeat Dad homer morons call into KNR to have the same useless fucking QB debate. "Charlie Frye has moxie." "Brian Hoyer is a local kid. Tom Brady taught him everything." "Why isn't Jim Tressel head coach?"
And then the offense scores 6 touchdowns all year.
I'm actually here to tell you why Cleveland doesn't suck: LeBron came back, Kyrie is healthy and we got Kevin Love.
Wait, we're talking about the Browns? Oh yeah, they're a dumpster fire.
They paid a group of analysts $100,000 to figure out which QB to draft.
The study said to pick Bridgewater.
My aunt and I were drinking fairly heavily before and during the game, and at the beginning of the 3rd quarter my aunt left to use the restroom. She did not return until 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and was accompanied by a police officer. It turns out that she went to a handicapped bathroom, locked the door, and proceeded to take a nap on the floor (which was presumably dirty and piss-laden). Stadium security was apparently knocking on the bathroom door for several minutes before she finally woke up. The police officer who brought her back to our seats released her into my custody.
The Avengers filmed a lot of the climactic battle scenes in Cleveland because it required less special effects to portray a ruined city.
I went to College out of state but still close enough to Cleveland to have a decent number of Browns fans. A couple of years ago, I thought I'd be a fun idea to host a morning tailgate party for all of the "Browns Backers" before the Kickoff of the 2012 season (the beginning of the Brandon Weeden Era!!!!). I woke up at 8am, threw on my Reuben Droughns jersey (sigh) and kicked off the party with two cases of Hamm's and fired up the grill. LET'S GET HYPE FOR THE SEASON, BOYS. Fast forward a couple of hours: nobody showed up and I was awoken from my slumber in a lawn chair to a homeless guy walking off with all of the beer. Brandon Weeden threw four picks and Trent Richardson rushed for 40 yards. Fuck them both. This team sucks every year and the sucking will never stop. Ever.
All of my friends pride themselves on how many times they've been to "Browns Jail" which is the drunk tank in the stadium you get sent to for being an asshole. Muni lot tailgates feature guys
pissing into their own mouths to be funny and disgusting girls walking around in Mudd jeans trolling for dick and free Shearer's Potato Chips.
When I lived in Miami I joined the Browns backers and 4 guys older than me had braces.
Here is a Browns season in a nutshell:
Training Camp - [Insert new head coach name here]'s new system is going to be great! [Insert inept QB name here] is going to thrive in the new offensive system!
Season - HOLY SHIT we are awful, how did we not see this coming? Local NFL draft coverage begins around week 4.
NFL Draft - Pretty much the biggest day of the year for Browns fans.
Here's a special list of FUCK YOUs for every year of my personal Browns history:
1981: FUCK YOU Brian Sipe
1982: FUCK YOU Paul McDonald
1983: FUCK YOU Tom Cousineau
1984: FUCK YOU Sam Rutigliano
1985: FUCK YOU Gary Danielson
1986: FUCK YOU Hanford Dixon (and FUCK YOU John Elway and FUCK YOU Mark Jackson)
1987: FUCK FUCK FUCK YOU Earnest Byner
1988: FUCK YOU Marty Schottenhimer
1989: FUCK YOU Kevin Mack (Smokes Crack)
1990: FUCK YOU Bud Carson (RIP)
1991: FUCK YOU Eric Metcalf Up the Middle
1992: FUCK YOU "Touchdown" Tommy Vardell
1993: FUCK YOU Vinny Testaverde
1994: FUCK YOU Bill Belichick and FUCK YOU Nick Saban
1995: FUCK FUCK YOU Andre Rison
1996: FUCK YOU Art Modell
1997: FUCK FUCK YOU Art Modell
1998: FUCK FUCK FUCK YOU ART MODELL
1999: FUCK YOU Carmen Policy, Dwight Clark, and Chris Palmer
2000: FUCK YOU Tim Couch
2001: FUCK YOU Courtney Brown
2002: FUCK YOU Gerard Warren
2003: FUCK YOU William Green
2004: FUCK YOU Butch Davis
2005: FUCK YOU Kellen Winslow, Jr.
2006: FUCK YOU Braylon Edwards
2007: FUCK YOU Derek Anderson and FUCK YOU Brady Quinn
2008: FUCK YOU Romeo Crennel and FUCK YOU Phil Savage
2009: FUCK YOU Eric Mangini
2010: FUCK YOU Mike Holmgren and FUCK YOU Tom Heckert
2011: FUCK YOU Peyton Hillis
2012: FUCK YOU Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden
2013: FUCK YOU Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi
2014: FUCK YOU Johnny Fucking Football
I recently flew home to Cleveland and, while I was waiting at the gate, a six-year old kid with green spray-painted hair walked over. He saw the name of the city on the board and said, "I don't want to go Cleveland! I HATE Cleveland! And the Browns!!" The little turd then promptly walked out of the area because he wasn't even on our flight. Everybody at the gate looked at each other and laughed…which helped us ignore the glaring reality that this fucking kid is smarter than us.
This summer, a group of us went into a downtown gas station to grab a few snacks one afternoon. What we thought was going to be a quick in and out stop turned into a roughly 20 min ordeal because of the man at the counter. This man decided that everyone behind him should wait until he found the absolute perfect blunt wraps. He was rubbing them, asking for prices, and basically making a scene in front of a small crowd as he continued to go back and forth with the cashier.
Finally, by the grace of God, this man was able to find a small grocery bag amount of blunt wraps worthy of his liking and leaves the store. By now all of us our just watching this man leave and curious to see what is going to happen next…and what do you know? A Camo'd-out Porche with Neon Orange rims pulls up and the man gets in. And who owns this monstrosity of a car? Yes, I shit you not, Josh Gordon.
God forbid if the Browns happen to win a game at home against a winning team or a rival. That's when all the lovable loser bullshit goes out the window and we turn into the fans we claim to despise. In 2010, the Patriots came to Cleveland and the Browns won 34-14. The stadium was rocking like we just won the Super Bowl. After the game was over, anyone in Patriots gear was subject to the worst ridicule you've ever heard. All women were whores. Cars with Massachusetts license plates had "Go back to Boston" written on them. An 8-year boy in a Tom Brady jersey was told that he had a bad father because "Tom Brady is a fucking fag". It was like the bully we all feared was out sick with chicken pox. WE WERE KINGS. A week later, the Browns lost to a Mark Sanchez TD in overtime.
There's a bar near my house in Orange County where transplant Browns fans stumble into at 10 a.m. every Sunday to watch the latest fiasco unfold. When I first started going there 8 years ago, every set was turned to the Browns game; now only half are. The other half show the games people want to see. Usually, by the end of the first quarter, when the Browns are down by two touchdowns, everyone moves the side of the bar where the other games are being shown. The owners even spring for pizza, placing the boxes on a table beneath the lone TV left on that is showing the second half of the Browns game. At first, that got a few people to move back to the Browns side of the bar. Now, they just go pick up the pizza boxes and carry them over to the other side so we can watch real football.
The guy who pissed on Art Modell's grave could be voted in as Mayor next term and would have a better plan regarding education and crime than our current mayor.
Prior to the NFL Draft in 2014, with knowledge that their best wide receiver failed his third drug test, which would probably suspend him for a year, the Cleveland Browns elected to draft ZERO wide receivers in the 2014 NFL draft.
I have never loved and hated something so much in my life.
Cleveland fans are sustained by their hatred of other teams, not by their team actually winning or having the possibility of winning. We hate the Steelers, but that is based upon a rivalry that Pittsburgh fans transferred to the Ravens, rightfully so. We don't even rate for shitting on anymore.
I was shopping for a kid around Christmas time (one of those Big Brothers Big Sisters things). I had picked out a few things (basic clothes, a basketball, a few games, and other kids stuff) when I came to a dilemma. There was a Cleveland Browns jersey on sale that I could get for this kid (around 8 years old). I happily thought of how this kid would become a Browns fan upon receiving the jersey and put the jersey in my cart. After a few minutes of thought, I realized that I didn't want to set this kid up for a life of failure and self-loathing while watching this terrible football team. I put the jersey back on the rack and bought him an Angry Birds shirt instead. That kid has no idea how close he was to having his life ruined by becoming a Browns fan.
I was at a game where it was so cold and windy that people were just hanging out and getting drunk in the disgusting bathrooms. People preferred the waft of stadium-food diarrhea and vomit to watching the game. They made a wise choice. The cheese cup on my nachos froze before I could finish them.
A homeless guy approached our tailgate a few years back asking if we had any extra food or booze we could share. We were out of beer, but since we were getting ready to head over to the stadium, we offered him our remaining pizza, to which he replied, "Whoa, whoa...I'm allergic to pizza," and walked away.
The last football jersey I bought was a #31 William Green.
In second grade, we had an apple painting contest at my school. I painted mine to look like Bernie Kosar, complete with hair curls coming out of the back of his helmet and a pipe cleaner face mask. It was a work of art. I lost to another kid who made his apple up like Santa Claus (in October!) whose mom was one of the judges. Still seems like the Browns are somehow at fault.
If a construction worker shits all over his reflective vest, you have our team colors.
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