CLEVELAND — Tales of Cleveland Browns dysfunction are the football equivalent of Stephen King novels.
Too many to count. Beyond scary.
And most fall neatly under the title “Misery.”
In the latest, from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, GM John Dorsey and owner Jimmy Haslam tell Hue Jackson he’s fired.
Jackson asks why.
Dorsey tells him he’s lost the team.
“Get the (expletive) out of my office,” Jackson is quoted saying.
No doubt after failing to find his challenge flag.
In Jackson’s defense, the Browns played four overtime games in the first half of the season. Quitting wasn't the issue with that 2-5-1 team.
It was worse than that. Jackson and his team were actually trying to win for three seasons.
In Dorsey’s defense, he might have been caught totally off guard that a 3-36-1 coach needed to ask why he was being fired.
- However Jackson’s dismissal happened, the turnaround in the second half of the season helped give Dorsey additional clout with ownership.
His draft picks mostly excelled. Baker Mayfield, the quarterback he coveted for months before the draft, changed outcomes and attitudes.
Freddie Kitchens, a front office favorite, proved himself the biggest upgrade of the Jackson-Todd Haley purge.
Was it telling that this time only the GM and the head coach sat on the dais during Kitchens introductory press conference and that Haslam didn’t speak?
It would seem to support another anecdote from the ESPN story — the part where Dorsey tells an associate that he “flexed my muscles and got what I wanted.”
So things are looking up.
Maybe, just maybe, signifying the end of a 20-year stretch that has seen the Browns become a page-turner for all the wrong reasons.
- There are a thousand Browns stories of tragic comedy and ineptitude from 1999 to present.
And if life is fair they should all be told with the theme from Benny Hill as background music.
- Wickersham also quotes Dorsey not long after his arrival telling someone he didn’t need “nerds” (we assume like Paul DePodesta) to help him pick football players.
The anecdote makes it clear Dorsey has since “warmed” to the Ivy Leaguers and analytics buffs on staff.
Let's call it the Athletes vs. Mathletes argument.
Can we agree it's all relative?
DePodesta played baseball and football at Harvard, after all.
At class reunions he’s the one the nerds call “that jock over there.”
- If DePodesta ever feels like he just can’t fit in with Dorsey and Kitchens, may we make a fashion suggestion:
- From the Senior Bowl, Dorsey told media that offensive lineman Austin Corbett and defensive end Chad Thomas still have bright futures despite their splinter-collecting rookie seasons.
And if you were the one who drafted them, you’d say exactly the same thing.
- One sidebar in the ESPN story that Haslam hired Jackson over the wishes of a front office that preferred Sean McDermott is believable.
It’s also made more interesting when we recall Haslam engineered a grand reception for Jackson with Browns employees welcoming the new coach as if he had just been delivered via shuttle splashdown and Times Square parade.
But apparently, we now know, not all Browns employees.
- After reading the dysfunction story, does anyone still believe Sashi Brown accidentally filed the papers late on a deal that would’ve sent two high draft picks to Cincinnati for A.J. McCarron?
- Hug a nerd today in thanks.
- The NFL reduced Baker Mayfield’s $10,000 fine to $1,700 on appeal.
The league fined the Browns quarterback for a sideline gesture he made while celebrating a touchdown with Kitchens.
“He came over and he simply said, ‘Great play call,'’’ Kitchens joked. “That’s something in our room that’s an inside deal in our room that’s going to stay in our room. It’s not a big deal.’’
Actually it’s an inside deal in the room that didn’t stay in the room. But the league agreed it wasn’t a big deal by reducing the fine.
And when has the NFL ever had to clarify anything referee related?
- By rule, the Cavs couldn’t trade Kevin Love for six months after signing him to a new contract.
Those six months have expired, meaning dealing the injured Love has gone from impossible to near impossible.
- The NFL might now consider reviews of pass interference calls in the aftermath of the Rams-Saints debacle.
And while that sounds like progress, something tells me the way the league operates we will still be left with the non-review of the non-call.
- I’m sure NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will clear this up any month now.
- By not addressing the debacle and outlining a solution, Goodell almost assures the Saints getting ripped off will become an even bigger part of Super Bowl week.
Especially the part where the commissioner delivers his state of the union a couple days before the big game.
Apparently, if owners expect Goodell to be pro-active, they’re going to have to pay him more than $40 million.
- A Saints fan is foolishly spending thousands of dollars on billboards in Atlanta during the Super Bowl as reminders that the Saints, not the Rams, should be facing the New England Patriots.
The Patriots, of course, have no preference. They’re perfectly capable of surreptitiously taping the practices of either team.
- I’d apologize to Pats fans for that comment. But I’m on to the next item.
- Kentucky Fried Chicken is selling limited edition candles that smell like gravy.
And still atheists are sticking to their story.
- Headline: “Road trip weary Cavs drop four in a row.”
Yeah. That’s the reason.
And I’m 20 pounds too heavy because of water weight.
- Sports Illustrated asks if Tony Romo is the best NFL analyst ever?
Seems like an overreaction to his spot-on work in the AFC title game broadcast in which he predicted Patriots plays based on the Chiefs’ defensive alignments.
Like, you know, a quarterback might.
- Rams head coach Sean McVay is 33. Bill Belichick is 66. One of them needs to be led around so he doesn’t bang into anything. The other is a five-time Super Bowl winner.
- Rams strength and performance coach Ted Rath is charged with keeping McVay out of the refs way along the sideline during games. The dynamic sometimes resembles a ball room dance. In this case, Rath's partner acts like he's not even there. Reminds me of my high school prom.
- Andy Reid is being criticized for not calling a timeout in OT to give his retreating defense a breather against the Patriots.
I mention that only because it gives me a reason to use this video from Reid's Punt, Pass and Kick appearance as a 13-year-old kid.
- James Harden is on a blistering streak in which he’s averaging 40 points in the past 20-plus games. He tied Kobe Bryant’s record for a visiting player by scoring 61 at Madison Square Garden.
To be fair, though, the Knicks play there.
- The most remarkable thing to emerge from crunching Harden’s recent numbers is that he has scored at least one basket in each game while not traveling or pushing off.
- Have a good weekend, nerds.