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It won't be easy turning down the volume on this Cleveland Browns season -- Bud Shaw's Sports Spin

Freddie Kitchens says his team will handle the outside noise, but the self-created distractions are the real challenge for NFL head coaches.
Credit: Matt Florjancic
Coach Freddie Kitchens talks with the defense during a drill at Cleveland Browns training camp in Berea on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

CLEVELAND — Freddie Kitchens has issued a noise ordinance, his ears perked toward media outlets that in some ways only had the audacity to share the thoughts of Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr.

“I’m not worried about our team,’’ Kitchens told reporters this week. “Our team is going to block out the noise and whoever creates the noise. It does not matter. Seriously, if you guys create the noise, they are going to block it out. 

“If GQ creates the noise, they are going to block it out. If Sports Illustrated [creates the noise], they are going to block it out. I have total confidence that they will block out the noise.’’

What if Mayfield creates the noise? Or Beckham? After all, they had a part in doing so this time around, and, well, creating noise has been part of who they are.

The timing of Mayfield’s Daniel Jones quote made it more understandable for sure, but he has already told us numerous times he won’t change and will speak his mind.

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Beckham was surely hurt by the Giants trade. No doubt about that. But when he said the Giants sent him to Cleveland “to die” it wasn’t exactly the first time he’s drawn attention to himself or portrayed himself as a misunderstood victim.

“I don’t think anybody knows what it’s like to be me than me and what I go through on a daily basis,’’ Beckham said in Junes. “Every single thing I have to deal with [is] something that nobody else I feel like has to deal with.”

Kitchens must deal with things that flare up from inside his team as well as outside. He says he will if he feels it’s necessary.

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Right now he's in denial about one of them.

  • The Browns can’t feel good about their kicking situation. Kitchens first camp ended with Greg Joseph missing a 49-yard field goal.

You can call that symbolic. It’s just not the word you'll scream from your seat  if it happens in the opener against Tennessee.

  • Fifth-round pick Austin Siebert wasn’t any more consistent than Joseph in this Browns camp. 

The only consolation is that Siebert, chosen with the pick the Patriots sent to the Browns for Josh Gordon, was one spot away from being a sixth-rounder.

I didn’t say it was a big consolation.

  • The Bears brought in nine kickers to minicamp and had many of them try field goals from 43 yards. Not that they’re at all obsessed with the 43-yarder Cody Parker clanged  in the playoffs last year.

Just a coincidence.

  • Several of the kickers brought in for auditions told Sports Illustrated the Bears have brought a negative vibe to finding Parkey’s replacement, that kickers flourish in situations where they feel supported not singled out for deficiencies all players at every position display.
  • Clearly, the Bears should just bring in Todd Haley as a life coach.
  • What passed for adversity in Browns camp was the disruption of routine when the Browns packed up and staged two joint practices in Indianapolis.

“Adversity can be either very small or very big depending on what it is and depending on where you are as an individual and collectively as a team at that present time,” said Professor Kitchens. “Being in pads every day is an adversity for a lot of guys.”

That’s true, I guess. But compared to the last 20 years of Browns football, two days of practices in Indy isn’t adversity.

 It’s a field trip.

  • Brad Hand has blown three of his last four saves.

That’s a killer for sure.

Just know there’s something more soul crushing for a team than a blown save. 

It’s a missed kick at the buzzer.

Feel better, Cleveland Fan?

  • Jets running back Le’Veon Bell, who hasn’t played a game in 19 months and is being held out of exhibition games as a precaution, is encouraging teammates to hit him in practice to help him get physically ready for the opener against Buffalo.

If at any point he holds out in New York the way he did in Pittsburgh, he won’t have to ask.

  • Speaking of guys who make Bell’s decision to sit out an entire season look reasonable, Antonio Brown has filed a grievance against the league. Brown wants to be able to wear the helmet of his choosing.

He filed the grievance a few days after GM Mike Mayock told reporters the team had exhausted the process and that it was time for Brown to be “all in or all out.”

I think he meant exhausted by the process.

  • The Raiders have so much invested in Brown as a lifeline for Derek Carr, Mayock’s comments fell short of an ultimatum. 

Brown can either be all in or all out or somewhere in between and there’s not much the Raiders can do about it.

He could even show up tomorrow with frostbite of the feet suffered in a cryogenics chamber.

If he hadn’t already done that.

  • A few days after saying “Zeke who?” to Cowboys reporters, Dallas owner Jerry Jones says he “earned the right” to joke with estranged running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Proving Jones doesn’t know the meaning of “with.”

  • Elliott wasn’t amused for obvious reasons. Just as Duke Johnson didn’t consider it a throw-away line when John Dorsey — asked if trading Johnson was a possibility after the acquisition of Kareem Hunt — said, “Not yet.”

If you are of the school that says players should have thicker skins, look in the mirror.

Chances are you see a guy who thinks his boss doesn’t understand how far a “nice job” would go in the work place.

  • It’s Jones prerogative to be dismissive. It’s just not possible to have earned the right.
  • And this is the last time Duke Johnson and Zeke Elliott will be mentioned in the same sentence.
  • Conor McGregor has apologized, saying he shouldn’t have hit a man in a bar.

Forget the details.

More significant is this: if McGregor can apologize, this might be the start of something big.

Who’s next?


As they say in the radio biz, I’ll hang up and listen.

  • Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is said to be “re-evaluating his kicking situation” after a bad performance from Giorgio Tavecchio, who it turns out is not a clothes designer.

So the Browns are hardly alone.

In fact, kicking concerns in the NFL are pretty much the fashion.

  • Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton left Thursday’s game in a walking boot after getting sacked and spraining his ankle, increasing the sale of bubble wrap around the NFL.
  • Justin Verlander directed security to keep a Detroit Free Press reporter of his non-liking out of the Astros locker room after Wednesday’s game.

Verlander’s explanation:

“I declined to speak with the @freep rep last night because of his unethical behavior in the past," Verlander said via Twitter. "I reached out to the @freep multiple times before the game to notify them why and to give them an opportunity to have someone else there. Ironically they didn’t answer.”

More ironically, Verlander isn’t in charge of which credentialed Baseball Writers Association of America member gains access to a clubhouse.

He can refuse to answer that reporter’s questions. He can refuse to answer any questions if that reporter's presence bothers him enough.

He doesn’t get to play gate keeper.

He later Tweeted this:

“Although I tried to avoid this situation altogether, I’ve still reached out to @freep multiple times today with no response. They’re still not interested in my side of the story.”

Not sure whether they are or they aren’t.

 But there’s no side of the story that allows him to be a sports department assignment editor.

  • Enough about self created noise.
  • Have a weekend.