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Free Agent possibilities for Cleveland

Discussion in 'Professional Football' started by GoofyBuckeye, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Pulling the Trigger at QB

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By NFL Scout
    Date: Jun 26, 2005

    The Browns decided to move quickly to sign QB Doug Johnson
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    After watching rookie Charlie Frye and second-year player Josh Harris in passing camp and minicamp, Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Phil Savage became convinced the Browns needed an experienced quarterback behind Trent Dilfer. They settled on Doug Johnson, a former backup with the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans.

    Crennel talked about waiting to see how Frye and Harris performed in training camp, but the more he and Savage thought about it, the better it seemed to sign Johnson early before some other team decided it needed another quarterback.

    "The bottom line is they don't feel real comfortable having rookies as their backup," Johnson said. "All rookies struggle, except the guy in Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger). Peyton Manning struggled as a rookie. John Elway did. Everybody does."

    The chances of Johnson playing at some time during the season are strong. Dilfer is fit and ready to go, but he has not played a full season since 1998. This is his first season with the Browns after spending the last four in Seattle and leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship in the 2000 season.

    The Browns took a look at Johnson during an invitation-only tryout in May, anticipating Frye and Harris would not be ready. They decided he has the right temperament to play behind Dilfer without rocking the boat. Originally an undrafted rookie (University of Florida) with the Falcons in 2000, he started eight games in 2003 and played in two others while Michael Vick mended from a broken ankle. He completed 136-of-243 passes for 1,655 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also threw 12 interceptions and had a 67.5 passer rating.

    Johnson, 6-2, 225 pounds, spent the 2004 training camp and preseason with Jacksonville. He was released Aug. 30 and claimed by Tennessee eight days later. He played in the final two in the final two games because of injuries to Steve McNair and Billy Volek and was six-of 12 passing for 68 yards and a passer rating of 68.4. In all Johnson has played in 25 games, with 11 starts and has completed 218 of 384 passes for 2,600 yards with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

    "I have experience as a starter and I'm ready to step in if they need me," Johnson said. "In Atlanta, I had a great relationship with Michael Vick and I can see that's how it's going to be here."

    Johnson is behind because he was not signed until after minicamp. By then the veterans were on a six-week vacation leading up to the start of training camp July 29. He is spending his time in cram sessions with the offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon so he can learn the offense.

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  2. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Passan: Keep Camp in Cleveland

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By Rich Passan
    Date: Jun 28, 2005

    Rich Passan saw what he didn't want to see last weekend: continued news reports of the Browns' dalliance with the City of Columbus. New relaxed rules on NFL marketing are creating the interest, Passan writes, and leading the Browns to consider wrecking part of Cleveland's special relationshup with team...
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    Here we go again.

    A newspaper report out of the state capital last week revealed that Columbus officials met with the Browns 12 days ago to discuss the possibility of moving the team’s summer training camp to that city as early as 2007.

    According to the report, the NFL changed its rules last year and allowed teams to widen their marketing reach outside the previous 75 miles from their home city. And since Columbus is about 120 miles from Cleveland and 100 miles from Cincinnati, it is considered ripe territory for both NFL cities.

    There’s money to be made, boys.

    Hey, haven’t we seen this before? Three months ago, an item in the Akron Beacon Journal stated that Browns President and CEO John Collins cast a covetous eye toward Columbus as the future home for training camp.

    It touched off a lengthy debate on this Web site as to the merits of such a move. Sides, mostly geographical, were taken and split Browns fans just about down the middle.

    Southern Ohioans, of course, just about drooled at the prospect of the club spending several weeks down their way. Those of us up north saw no reason for the Browns to leave Berea.

    Eventually, the fuss died down and dozed.

    Sleep time over.

    The rumor has raised its repulsive head again and touched off another debate on the pluses and minuses of such a move.

    It’s time to do something about it. Let’s see how much the Browns’ new regime really cares about the fans who live in the town in which it plays. Let’s see how much clout you have.

    It is time to let the club’s front office know how you feel about even thinking of moving training camp to Columbus. If you are like most Clevelanders, you’ve got to be pretty upset that the club is leaning in that direction.

    The best way to show your opposition to a possible move is to drop the club a line, an e-mail or a fax – in a respectful manner, of course – and express that dissatisfaction. Let them know exactly how you feel.

    The current argument, much like the first, has traveled along geographic lines.

    Those who live in or near Columbus and post here insist their town is a Browns town. More Browns fans than Cincinnati Bengals fans, they say. So it makes perfect sense for the Browns to move in, dig in and take full advantage of that popularity.

    In what way? In the only way the National Football League knows how to operate. The fiscal bottom line, baby. It’s all about the money. Ancillary revenues that can be gleaned from the public are a constant target of NFL owners

    So let the Cleveland-Cincinnati war over Columbus begin. Or does it have to?

    Repeating what was written here three months ago: Why in the world would Collins, or anyone else in Berea connected with the CLEVELAND Browns, even think of making such a move? It makes no sense.

    One of the great rituals of summer in Cleveland is going to Browns training camp with the family. Whether it’s in Berea or at Lakeland Community College or Kent State University or Hiram College, it’s the place to be for the hordes of Browns fans to get their only up-close-and-personal look at their team.

    Many fans take a day or two off from work and shepherd the family out to Berea for one, sometimes both, of the early two-a-day sessions. Can’t think of a better way to indoctrinate the kids to Browns football.

    There’s nothing like the sights and sounds at 76 Lou Groza Boulevard from late July to late August; the dew on the early morning emerald grass; the ever-present sound of the air horn to signal a different routine; the fans crowding the sidelines to catch a glimpse of their favorite players.

    The oooohing and aaaahing of a great catch, a solid hit, a pass well defended, a defensive end beating an offensive tackle in a 1-on-1 drill (or vice versa), a fight occasionally breaking out during one of those drills, the long lines of autograph seekers after practice.

    That’s just a part of what you’ll miss if the Browns move training camp to Columbus. Is that what you want?

    Bottom line is that you can’t beat the atmosphere of training camp. They’re discussing taking that away from northeast Ohioans. It should not proceed beyond the discussion stage.

    It’s OK for the Browns to go down to Columbus for a day or two to scrimmage a team. But that’s it.

    Fans from the Columbus area don’t mind coming up here to see the Browns practice. They’ve been doing it for decades. But I don’t think Cleveland-area fans would enjoy making the trip down I-71 on a daily basis.

    One argument to take the club out of town for the summer centers around the fact that most NFL teams do not train at home. I don’t care if all NFL teams hold their training camps outside their home city. The relationship between the Browns and their fans is special.

    A post on this site last Friday by stonecolddawg, a Columbus-area resident, said it best.

    “Although I miss the Browns being so close, it would be much harder for them to move down here,” it read. “Columbus is a two-hour drive. Most camps are half an hour to an hour away. None of you NE Ohioans want to drive all the way down here. Plus, there is no good place to have the Browns. The proposed Northland site is run down. There are plenty of Division III schools down here, but they are run down, except maybe Otterbein.

    “I would love to have the Browns down here, but that would be selfish. In this era of star-loving and placation, I think it is best for the players to be comfortable. The less stress on them, the better they may perform.”

    Well put.

    Time to put this rumor to sleep for good.

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  3. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Perkins, Hoffman Sign Deals

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By Browns Press Release
    Date: Jul 8, 2005

    The Browns have signed two of their 2005 draft choices, DB/KR Antonio Perkins (pictured) and DL Andrew Hoffman. Contract details, per usual, are not yet available.
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    The Cleveland Browns today signed 2005 fourth-round draft choice DB Antonio Perkins and sixth-round pick DL Andrew Hoffman to four-year contracts, respectively. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

    Perkins (5-11, 188, Oklahoma) was selected in the fourth round (103rd overall). An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection as a senior, Perkins excelled in the Sooners defensive backfield as well as on special teams. He totaled 33 tackles (22 solo) and an interception on defense to go along with 17 punt returns for 156 yards and a score in 2004. During his four-year career at Oklahoma, Perkins set school records with 113 punt returns for 1,441 yards (12.8 avg.) and eight TDs.

    Hoffman (6-4, 296, Virginia), who was a three-year starter at nose guard for the Cavaliers, was the second (203rd overall) of the Browns two selections in the sixth round (pick acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade for QB Luke McCown). As a senior in 2004, Hoffman totaled 52 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 11 tackles for loss for Virginia.

    The Browns are scheduled to open training camp at their practice facility in Berea, Ohio on Friday, July 29. A complete training camp schedule will be released soon.


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  4. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Owl: Something to Cling To

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By The Owl
    Date: Jul 14, 2005

    The fans have shown their loyalty to the Browns, writes the all-knowing and fully-feathered Owl. Now, it's time for that loyalty to be returned...
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    It has been so long since we've seen quality football from the Browns that the three years they were gone seem short in comparison.

    To think that the Browns have won just one playoff game since 1989, and to think Cleveland Browns Stadium is packed every Sunday anyway, says a lot about the loyalty of their fans. Of course, being forced to buy a PSL for the right to sit in the stadium makes the decision to give up season tickets difficult, but the fact is there is a waiting list to buy PSLs.

    Well, it's time for Browns management to pay the fans for their loyalty by producing a winner. No one is expecting a Super Bowl champion immediately, but throw us a bone, and not from the Dawg Pound.

    It has been almost a generation since Bernie Kosar made football magical again in Cleveland by taking the Browns to three AFC championship games in four years. Yes, the Browns lost all three, all to the Denver Broncos, but fans did not feel cheated - disappointed, sure, but not cheated. It was almost like a badge of honor to have been so close and lost, like being a Red Sox fan from 1919-2003.

    Randy Lerner wants to win as soon as possible, but it is important for him to trust Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel. Wisely, they did not spend gobs of money for one player in free agency, Ty Law for example, but instead spread the money around to improve the offensive line, defensive line, linebackers and the secondary. They improved running back and quarterback through trades.

    I applaud Savage for not taking shortcuts to make a big splash this season, but the fact remains it is time to deliver. Show us something. Show us the path you're taking fans down, and even if the victories don't come this season, at least show enough so fans can say, 'Yeah, I see where they're going.'

    Last September ESPN commentator Sean Salisbury said the Browns are the new Bengals of the NFL. That's a scary thought. The Bengals have not had a winning season since 1990, yet they finished 8-8 each of the last two seasons and now are better than the Browns. That's because team owner Mike Brown has faith in coach/general manager Marvin Lewis.

    Salisbury backed off after the Browns beat the Ravens in the season opener, but as we all know, he could have retracted his retraction.

    One of Savage's first comments the day he was hired was about asking fans to trust him, while at the same time pointing out that he would not have been hired in the first place if problems did not exist.

    As The Owl has pointed out before, Browns fans are among the most knowledgeable in the league. They can see when things are going to work, and they can see when they have no chance. Most fans were down on Tim Couch - rightfully so it turned out, since he cannot get a job. Only the most loyal fans were blind to Jeff Garcia's deficiencies.

    More football games are lost than won, meaning winning teams don't jump offsides or get whistled for illegal procedure penalties, throw interceptions with the game on the line as Kelly Holcomb did last season in Cincinnati, fumble or drop passes in critical situations.

    If the Browns go 6-10 and show they are a disciplined team, and if there are no embarrassing off-the-field stories, such as police raids, charges of rape, assault or DUI arrests, I believe fans will acknowledge Savage and Crennel have the team heading in the right direction.

    Put another way, there was nothing to build on after the 2003 or 2004 seasons. Nothing. That's why 2004 was such a disaster, and that's why there was such a major shakeup after last season.

    Just give the fans something to cling to, Romeo and Phil. That would be more than they've had since the fluke playoff season of 2002.


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  5. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Scout: Training Camp Objectives

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By NFL Scout
    Date: Jul 17, 2005

    Scout.com provides some thoughts on what they feel the Browns will need to pursue during the team's upcoming training camp. Plus: some Browns updates from the past week in Berea...
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    Here is what the Browns hope to accomplish in training camp:

    1. Find a starting running back.

    The Browns have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 1985. Even including the three-year hiatus from 1996-98 when they did not exist, that's a long time, but now with Reuben Droughns, Lee Suggs and William Green they have three backs capable of reaching that barrier.

    Coach Romeo Crennel will have to settle on one of the three, but just as each has potential, each comes with a question. Droughns rushed for 1,240 yards with the Broncos last year. Can he do it again? He rushed for a combined 97 yards in three previous seasons.

    Lee Suggs rushed for 100 yards in each of his last three games. The question is whether he can remain healthy. He missed nine games with a shoulder injury as a rookie and then three on two separate occasions last year - first with a neck injury and then with a toe injury. For Green, the question is how dedicated will he be if he does not start. He worked hard in the offseason and Crennel believes in him.


    2. Gain chemistry on the offensive line.

    No segment of the Browns has drawn as much criticism in the last six years as the offensive line has. General Manager Phil Savage's first signing in free agency was Joe Andruzzi, a left guard from the New England Patriots, and about a week later he had a new right guard in Cosey Coleman, the former Buccaneer. Andruzzi played on three Super Bowl champions and Coleman on one.

    Six-year veteran L.J. Shelton is in his first year with the Browns. He was signed to play left tackle. Put it all together and it means no one will be lining up next to the player he lined up next to last year.

    Andruzzi and Coleman were with the Browns through most of the offseason conditioning program, plus passing camp and minicamp. Shelton missed all that activity because he was with Arizona.

    Because so many players have never been together before, the starters might see more action in training camp and preseason than they normally might. That will help from the chemistry angle, but it also means more wear and tear on the starters and less playing time for the backups.


    3. Settle on two safeties.

    Safety is the world of the unknown for the Browns. Brodney Pool, the second-round draft choice from Oklahoma, is a rookie and Sean Jones is just like a rookie; the second-round draft choice from 2004 missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery performed in June, 2004.

    Pool impressed coaches during quarterback school and minicamp. He, Jones and Brian Russell, acquired in free agency from the Vikings, will contend for two starting spots. Chris Crocker will not go quietly, but he was a Butch Davis draft choice (as was Jones), so Crocker should not expect any favoritism from Crennel.

    Crennel's 3-4 defense puts more pressure on the safeties than the 4-3 does. The first-year coach wants good tacklers, which is why Robert Griffith and Earl Little are gone. Russell earned a tag for being soft as a tackler last year with the Vikings. Jones was a bit of a head-hunter at Georgia, but it has been 18 months since he tackled anyone.


    Updates:

    • TE Kellen Winslow Jr. has agreed to plead no contest to a charge of failure to control his motorcycle during a May 1 accident. His fine is $150 and two points on his license, but the accident was costlier than that for him because he will miss the entire 2005 season with a torn right ACL.
    • K Phil Dawson was signed to a five-year contract extension. Financial terms were not disclosed. Dawson is the team's career leader with an 82 percent field goal conversion rate and has six game-winning kicks in six years.
    • The Browns were among teams watching LB Peter Boulware workout in Tallahassee last week. They want him to be an every down linebacker and are undecided whether to offer him a contract.
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  6. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Passan: Q-and-A Time

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By Rich Passan
    Date: Jul 20, 2005

    In this installment of his weekly rants, Rich asks himself tough questions and gives himself tough answers. Pondering tough football questions is what we're all about. Well, that, and beer. Pondering tough football questions and beer are the two things were all about, plus ripping off Monty Python skits. Drat! OK, pondering tough football questions, beer, ripping off Monty Python, are the three things...
    </TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=3>
    Questions that need to be asked and answers that need to be given . . .


    Q – Why is it taking so long for Peter Boulware to sign a free-agent contract with some team?


    A – It’s been said that answering a question with another question is not wise. But what the hell.

    Could it be he’s not the linebacker/pass-rushing specialist he was just a couple of years ago? You might not like the Baltimore Ravens (massive understatement), but you’ve got to believe they knew what they were doing when they cut Boulware.

    If he were physically fit – he’s coming off major knee and toe injuries (yes, turf toe is major; it ended Jack Lambert’s career) – then we wouldn’t be talking about him. He’d still be a dreaded Raven.

    He has to convince four teams – the Browns, Seahawks, Texans and Steelers (how did they sneak in there?) – before money and contract terms are discussed. After watching him work out last Thursday at Florida State, those teams went behind closed doors to discuss strategy.

    Browns General Manager Phil Savage knows what’s at stake. He also knows the man and what he can do. And there’s a chance he might take a pass on Boulware.

    Sure, it would be nice to see him in Seal Brown and Orange. Sure, it would be nice to see him crushing opposing quarterbacks (most notably Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Kyle Boller). And sure, it would be nice to solidify an otherwise suspect defense.

    If the Browns decline to get into a bidding contest and Boulware signs with, say, Pittsburgh and surprises everyone with a great season, do you blame Savage? Does he reside between that boulder and the proverbial hard place?

    You bet he does. It’s decisions such as this that make or break reputations. It’s no different than if he took a chance on Boulware, only to see him fail miserably. There’s a fine line between genius and doofus. Just ask Dwight Clark, P.H. Davis and Pete Garcia.


    Q – Why did the Browns sign Phil Dawson to a five-year contract?


    A – Because he’s as consistent a kicker as there is in the National Football League. Granted, he doesn’t get many field-goal opportunities – he averaged less than two a game last season – but he doesn’t miss many. Besides, it’s the one department that has been consistent the last six seasons.

    But I believe Dawson this season will observe from the sidelines when the Browns kick off. The Browns recently signed Tyler Jones after the Bears cut him. The kid can kick. Usually gets a lot of depth on his kickoffs. Two negatives: He sometimes line-drives the ball and the fact he comes from Boise State might raise the possibility that Boise’s high altitude might add several yards to his kicks.

    Coaches love their defenses to start drives inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. And with the Browns’ defense a tad shy on talent, more drives begun there would be prudent. That means a kicker who drives the ball deep. And Jones drives the ball deep.


    Q – How worried should you be regarding the Browns’ defensive line?


    A – Very worried. Even though the linebackers are the key elements in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 scheme, the defensive line plays a critical role by tying up offensive linemen so they can’t get to the second level.

    In other words, one of their main functions is to keep their linebackers clean to make plays. How do you think guys like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher wind up on highlight reels and SportsCenter? They get clean shots at their targets because they don’t have to worry about some offensive lineman getting in their way.

    That’s why I’m worried. Beyond Orpheus Roye and Alvin McKinley, the Browns are bankrupt along the defensive line. Jason Fisk? He couldn’t start as San Diego. Beyond that, you have a bunch of names unless a Nick Eason, a Simon Fraser, an Ellery Moore or a Drew Hoffman pop out and surprise everyone.


    Q – And who’s going to start at linebacker?


    A – Andra Davis is the only certainty. The dept chart right now says Chaun Thompson and Matt Stewart on the outside and Ben Taylor next to Davis inside. But Taylor can’t stay healthy, Thompson is a better inside backer and Stewart’s resume doesn’t mention solid tackling.

    If the coaches keep Thompson outside, Brant Boyer should get a shot inside. He’s fresh. Didn’t play last season. He’s due to have an injury-free season.

    And if Boulware isn’t here, Kenard Lang has a chance to unseat Stewart. Depends how well he has progressed since being switched from the defensive line several months ago. Training camp will unlock the mystery.


    Q – The Browns have signed three draft picks so far. What are the odds they will have all eight under contract by the time the whole squad reports to training camp July 29?


    A – Too high to discuss. Ain’t gonna happen. If so, even Paul Tagliabue will be stunned.


    Q – What are Gene Hickerson’s chances of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

    A – Unfortunately, they are slim unless the Veterans Committee chooses to hear his case. Even then, they still might be slim because there most likely are players from other teams just as deserving and who suffered the same fate as Hickerson.

    The campaign on this Web site to get Hickerson elected is admirable. But so is the campaign to get the late Mel Harder of the Indians elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Despite pressure from some prominent people, it hasn’t happened yet.

    It’s an injustice to keep Hickerson out of the Hall when guys like John Hannah, Gene Upshaw, Tom Mack and Larry Little reside there. Hickerson was John Hannah before John Hannah. He was Larry Little before Larry Little. I saw him play and can vouch he’s the best pulling guard I’ve ever seen. He was the quintessential pulling guard of his era.

    But this isn’t like the City of Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere on this planet bringing the NFL to its knees in 1995. Fighting this cause is commendable, but futile.


    Q – Is this Q & A ever going to end?

    A – Yes.

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  7. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Davis Wants to Return to Sideline

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By Grant Hall
    Date: Jul 22, 2005

    It's a question seen frequently on the forums: What is Butch Davis up to? Grant Hall, of Scout.com affiliate HawgsIllustrated.com, gives us an update as the one-time Razorback player returned to Arkansas and talked to the local media. Another Scout.com exclusive!
    </TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=3>
    SPRINGDALE -- Butch Davis is enjoying life as a family man these days, but yes, he would like to get back into coaching.

    Davis, a former University of Arkansas football player who coached both the University of Miami (Fla.) and the Cleveland Browns, was at Springdale Country Club on Thursday to watch his 12-year-old son, Drew, play in the Jack Karnes Memorial junior golf tournament.

    Butch Davis grew up in Springdale, where his father, Paul, still has a home snugged against No. 18 at SCC.

    "I'm enjoying being a fan," Davis said. "Drew likes to play golf, and he's played several tournaments this year."

    Davis will also be a fan of both pro football and college football this fall, as he plans to attend quite a few games, including some college weekends with his family.

    "I would be open to coaching either in pro football or in college," Davis said. "I'm going to do some TV analysis for the NFL Network starting in August, and also go to maybe four or five college games."

    Davis will tape two shows per week for the NFL Network, beginning Aug. 18.

    "We'll do a retrospective on the previous week's games, to air on Saturdays, and then a preview of the games coming up, to air on Sundays," Davis said. "The shows will run all the way to the Super Bowl."

    Davis added, "It will be a way for me to stay involved and stay current with the game -- see how people do things. It's my understanding that the NFL Network may actually televise some games in the future."

    Davis plans to attend several pro teams' practices on Monday and Tuesday, then take his family to some college campuses on Friday and Saturday.

    "I've never had a chance to be a fan," Davis said. "It will be fun to be with my family and get a fan's perspective. I'm planning to come to Arkansas one weekend, and I want to see the Army-Navy game."

    Davis has continued to live in Cleveland, Ohio, where he still has his home.

    "There was no point in making a move until there was a reason to," Davis explained. "It would affect Drew the most. He's going into the seventh grade this fall."

    Davis is still receiving compensation from the Browns, and any new job he might take could affect his contractual situation with Cleveland.

    Meanwhile, he's enjoying some quality family time in Springdale.

    "I didn't get to play the Chick-A-Tee tournament here the last few years," Davis said. "There was usually a quarterback camp, or some other conflict."

    Gary Karnes, the founder and organizer of the Jack Karnes tourney, asked Davis to speak to the junior golfers before today's round.

    "That will be kind of nice," Davis said. "I'll probably just talk for four or five minutes."

    Davis didn't attend the Top Gun QB1 Challenge in Springdale on Wednesday night, but did see some taped highlights on television.

    "That's a great thing for these kids," Davis said. "Another thing that has really helped is all the 7-on-7 games. They were all the rage on the West Coast for years, even back when I was an assistant at Oklahoma State, and now they've caught on everywhere."

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  8. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD colSpan=3>Passan: Deaf to the Spin

    </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top bgColor=#ffffff>[​IMG]


    </TD><TD noWrap width=3></TD><TD vAlign=top>By Rich Passan
    Date: Jul 26, 2005

    As interest in the Browns cranks back up, guess who shows up on local television? Yep, it's good ol' Uncle Artie, posturing before a fawning TV anchorman. While Art Modell might have had a chance to offer up some free spin on the local airwaves, Rich Passan reports that he (and most Browns fans, apparently) aren't buying it...
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    Art Modell turned 80 recently. Ill health might prevent him from making it to 81. Thus, a soul-cleansing is in order.

    That and one last-gasp shot at being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame while he’s alive.

    How else could one explain WEWS Channel 5’s “exclusive” on Modell that ran on the Cleveland television station last week.

    Why now? Why dredge up all the ugliness, all the venom, all the raw emotion that engulfed Cleveland when Modell announced in November of 1995 that he was moving the Browns to Baltimore?

    Why?

    Ratings? Of course. No doubt Channel 5’s numbers rose dramatically as a result of anchor Ted Henry’s multi-part series on Modell, who finally broke his silence with the Cleveland media after all these years.

    But why now? And why Henry?

    The enmity most fans still feel toward Modell had to be a large contributing factor. A lot of bridges needed to be repaired. Spin mode was ramped up.

    What better way to get his version of the story to the most Cleveland fans after all these years than through a television interview that was hyped ad nauseam. It is a medium with which Modell feels the most comfortable.

    He said he wanted to set the record straight. He wanted to let the fans know why he moved the team.

    But he needed someone who was obsequious and harmless to use as a sounding board. A veteran news anchor whose sports knowledge would not quite fill a thimble. Someone who lives on the periphery of the sports world and doesn’t quite understand it.

    Henry was the perfect choice.

    With a few exceptions, most of what Modell said was nothing more than regurgitated news: How he got shafted by local politicians; how he had not been given a fair shake by people in a position to extend him that fair shake; how he had no choice. (Yes he did. He could have publicly threatened to move the team. He could have sold the team.)

    The only revelation in the otherwise fawning interview was Modell’s assertion that a week before his announcement, he was advised by two “high-ranking” persons to move his team. One was on the Ohio state political level; the other held a high-ranking position in sports. He declined to name names. Said he would take them to his grave.

    One is thought to be Ohio Senator George Voinovich, who was governor of the state in 1995. Modell was a significant contributor to the Republican party in Ohio and a known Voinovich supporter.

    Speculation on the other person centers on NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. But it would not be surprising if the second person turns out to be New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, a member of the old guard like Modell. Mara and Modell were very tight.

    Now it might or might not be any of the aforementioned, but the fact Modell mentioned them obliquely unfairly casts aspersions on them.

    Modell also said he was about to go bankrupt when he took the advice of the two people and announced the move. Imagine that. Going bankrupt while receiving large sums of money from television revenue, NFL Properties, Stadium parking, ticket sales and local radio. All this with an 80,000-seat facility.

    His fellow owners thrived. Why didn’t he?

    He built up a debt service to the NFL that was so high (some reported it as high as $50 million), it would have taken him half a lifetime to repay the league.

    Why was Modell in debt up to his eyeballs? He was a terrible businessman. Forming the Stadium Corp., which turned into a money-draining venture, was a disaster. And losing his major tenant at the Stadium, the Indians, sent him reeling.

    Throw in free agency in the NFL and payrolls began their spiral upward. Modell couldn’t keep up and had to borrow money.

    All the while, the city of Cleveland helped finance new facilities for the Indians and Cavaliers in addition to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center. Modell was jealous. He felt left out.

    He originally was approached by the Gateway Corp. to be part of a multi-purpose facility that would seat around 72,000 and house the Indians and Browns. He wanted to be the landlord. Indians owner Dick Jacobs, who had lived for several years under Modell, the Stadium landlord, said no. So did Modell to Gateway.

    Major League Baseball said “build the Indians a facility or lose the team”. The threat worked. Jacobs Field was built.

    Modell said he was told by city officials that he would be taken care of. He told Henry that he waited and waited and never heard back from them. He said threatening to move the Browns was not considered. Mentioned something about not wanting to hurt the steel-mill worker in Youngstown. Weak.

    Channel 5 conducted an online survey in conjunction with the interviews. “Has your opinion of Art Modell changed based on Ted Henry’s exclusive interview with him?” elicited around 3,000 responses with 81% responding no.

    Henry, moving farther away from the above-mentioned periphery, expressed surprise that the vote was so lopsided. He couldn’t understand. Naturally.

    Modell told Henry that it was “torturous” moving to Baltimore. He said it was “fueled by the media, who love nothing more than to tear people apart, if they can.”

    That’s right, it was the media’s fault the Browns moved to Baltimore.

    Henry asked Modell if he would ever consider coming back to Cleveland. "I'd have to have a clear-cut awareness and knowledge that I was wanted back, not by a handful of people,” Modell said, “not by a social let's-get-together-for-dinner thing. I'd have to get a feeling that it's pervasive all over town that they want the Modells back. Even if it's only temporary."

    Henry then suggested that perhaps induction into the Hall of Fame could lure Modell back to northern Ohio. "I think the Hall of Fame would serve as a closure for part of my life, an episode that comes to an end,” Modell said. “I would like to come back to Cleveland, not to live perhaps, but to stay for a while. Visit often."

    Fat chance.

    Too bad because at one time, Art Modell was Cleveland’s most well known figure outside of the mayor.

    He was young (36) and a bachelor when he took over the Browns in 1961. He was a likable, wise-cracking, joke-telling, back-slapping, savvy New Yorker. He knew how to schmooze.

    Some fans worried when he fired legendary coach Paul Brown in 1962. They feared he was a carpetbagger who would take their team away in bad times. Bad times came, but Modell proved resolute.

    He high-profiled his way to the top of Cleveland social circles. He was a man about town, involving himself in just about everything. At one point, he served as foreman of the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury.

    He was a philanthropist of sorts. He was generous to a fault – to his players, to his friends, to many charities. Even though he spoke with that decided Brooklyn accent, he was Cleveland.

    Modell was a people person. He liked people. People liked him. Even when his team went through tough times, his popularity remained high.

    He was not afraid to take chances. He created the exhibition doubleheader at the Stadium, a highly successful venture for several years. He volunteered to host the first Monday Night Football game in 1970. He also volunteered to move the Browns to the American Football Conference when the NFL and American Football League merged. Of course, he collected $3 million for doing so.

    But in becoming a popular figure, he forgot one important thing. The fans made him what he was. The fans put money in his pocket. The fans worshipped at the shrine of the Cleveland Browns. The fans were at the core of the team’s extreme popularity.

    Modell lost sight of that and wandered into a world of make believe. He thought he was the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland slowly left the equation. The Browns weren’t Modell’s team. They were Cleveland’s team.

    And then he made his mind-numbing, unconscionable move, one that wiped out all he had accomplished. It will haunt him the rest of his days.

    Modell told Henry the most important thing to him, outside of his family, is loyalty. He treasures loyalty and called it a two-way street, rewarding people loyal to him.

    But where was Modell’s loyalty to the group of people blindly loyal to him for 35 years? Where was that loyalty to the fans of the Cleveland Browns?

    Guess that didn’t count.

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
     
  9. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Never Forget 31-0

    Ray of Light In Cleveland

    BEREA, Ohio -- As it turns out, it's not a bright, new day in Cleveland after all. Not yet at least. Touching down at Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport early Wednesday morning, the skies were slate gray, with a steady drizzle and cooler than normal temperatures for late July. A complete wash-out of a storm rolled through northeast Ohio on Tuesday night, rendering everything in its path a sloppy mess.

    All in all, the scene was a perfect summation of the Browns' dreary football fortunes for most of the past six seasons.

    Ah, but there are a few rays of hope appearing on the Cleveland horizon. And they come in the person of head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage, the Browns new management tandem -- their third coaching regime in six years (four if you count interim Terry Robiskie) -- assigned the task of resurrecting this once-proud franchise.

    "These fans already have had their hearts broken twice,'' said Savage on Wednesday, as the Browns rookies and about 20 veterans went through their third day of training camp, with the full squad scheduled to report on Friday. "They're just looking to grasp on to something positive about the Browns. Hopefully we're going to give it to them in due time, because we really got nowhere to go but up.''

    So true. If you think about it, despite the debacle that Browns football has been since Cleveland's 1999 re-entry into the league, Crennel and Savage are in one of the more enviable positions league-wide. Yep, we said enviable. For the Browns, losers of 66 of their 96 games in the past six seasons, the bar is set so low that you have to step over it. Things were so bad last year at the end of the Butch Davis era that progress is the only option.

    "We've tried from the outset to show there's a step-by-step process to all of this,'' Savage said of the Browns' latest building project. "If you're in a swimming pool and the water's over your head, you're reaching with your toes to find bottom before you can push yourself up to the surface. I think at this juncture, we feel like we've certainly found bottom and now everything's in front of us.''

    Despite the positive vibe created by Crennel and Savage, expectations remain modest for this season. A 6-10 campaign will be real improvement. Let the Browns go 7-9 or 8-8 and Crennel will be getting coach of the year votes. Anything better than that, well, best contact city hall and apply for the parade permits and pick out a spot for the statue right now.

    "We don't anticipate this is going to be an overnight thing,'' Crennel said Wednesday, looking relaxed and ready for his first camp as an NFL head coach. "We don't think we're going to be in the Super Bowl next year. Now, we'll take if it happens. But it's a process we have to go through, and it starts with changing the mentality of the team and the organization.''

    For the Browns, '04 was a process as well, albeit kind of like the Bataan Death March. The Browns were 4-12 last year, including a nine-game losing streak. The nadir of the season came on Nov. 30, when Davis resigned under pressure two days after a 58-48 shootout loss at Cincinnati. The Browns turned things over to Robiskie for the final five games.

    It wasn't just everyday ugly on the shores of Lake Erie. It was downright hideous -- as close to a train wreck as it gets in the any-given-Sunday world of the NFL. In December alone, the Browns were outscored 110-29, mailing in one dreadful performance after another for Robiskie.

    "It was terrible last year,'' third-year center Jeff Faine said. "It was a job last year. It wasn't a game. It was coming to work. But this whole offseason, everybody has been excited. It's become a game again; it's become fun again.''

    For the Browns, the offseason was about regaining the trust and confidence of their rabid but failure-weary fans. Trust that a competent, experienced two-headed leadership team is now heading the football operations. Trust that there is finally a coherent plan in place, and the days of no accountability and Davis as a power-hungry (and slightly paranoid) football czar are over.

    But before Crennel and Savage could begin selling the community on the revamped Browns, the two had to restore the faith in Cleveland's locker room, which had almost a complete distrust of Davis by last season.

    With Romeo and Phil, it was instant credibility,'' Faine said. "Things have been questioned in the past, decisions that were made, but there wasn't any of that. Romeo has five (Super Bowl) rings. And Phil's track record with the draft and in team management has just been unbelievable. So it has been instant credibility and no questioning of their moves.

    "When someone asks me on the street how good are we going to be this year, I just tell them we're headed in the right direction. And I truly believe that. It's not going to happen overnight, but I think we're finally moving in the right direction.''

    In many ways, Savage and Crennel were uniquely qualified for this reclamation job, one of the larger challenges in the NFL. Both worked in Cleveland before and know the terrain and the passion the city has for its most beloved civic treasure. Both men have impressive credentials that warranted them getting their first shot at running their own program, and were integral parts in proven, winning systems -- Crennel in New York and New England, with his five Super Bowl rings, and Savage in Baltimore, as a personnel chief for the perennially talent-rich Ravens.

    Now all they have to do is prove that a little bit of that Patriots and Ravens magic fairy dust made the trip with them to Cleveland.

    "No matter who the new coach is, the fans are going to start out optimistic,'' Crennel said. "Because a new coach equals new hope. But with the moves you make, you either reinforce that hope or extinguish that hope. To this point, with the moves we've made, we think we've given them reason to hope.''

    I like the moves, understated as they may be, that Crennel and Savage have made so far. Without going for the big splashy, look-at-us headlines, the Browns made a number of solid pickups in free agency, the kind that help lay the foundation for a turnaround situation.

    Crennel coaxed former Patriots guard Joe Andruzzi aboard in free agency, anchoring what was an injury-decimated offensive line in '04. Savage did the same with one of his former Ravens, inducing cornerback Gary Baxter to spurn Baltimore's best offer for a last-second change of heart in Cleveland's favor. Trades brought in veteran quarterback Trent Dilfer for the starting role that Jeff Garcia flopped in, and running back Reuben Droughns, who figures to be right there in the three-man battle (with Lee Suggs and William Green) for the No. 1 rusher role.

    Add in less publicized acquisitions such as defensive tackle Jason Fisk (from San Diego), safety Brian Russell (Minnesota), linebacker Matt Stewart (Atlanta), and offensive linemen Cosey Coleman (Tampa Bay), and the Browns, simply put, have more real pros to lean on than they did at any time late in the ill-conceived Davis era.

    And then there's Braylon Edwards, the play-making former Michigan receiver who many considered the draft's finest overall talent, second-round safety Brodney Pool, and Charlie Frye, the potential quarterback of the future, who came in the third round from nearby Akron.

    "I really believe the guys we've added are going to be solid, do-your-job pros, who know how to play the game,'' Crennel said. "A guy like Joe Andruzzi, I know exactly what I'm getting from Joe Andruzzi. He's going to go out there and lay it on the line for you every week. Those are the kind of guys we're trying to acquire. That's how we build our team.''

    In Cleveland, where the eras and the errors have been far too plentiful these past six years, those are the kind of guys who have been in short supply.

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