It seems that every passing day leading up to the Draft is bringing news to Cleveland Browns fans. The release of veteran tight-end Steve Heiden and the signing of TE Watson from the New England Patriots are just two of the latest moves that the new front office in Brownstown has made.
My son was going through his videos this morning and pulled out an old one that I had picked up at a garage sale a few years back but never actually watched, until a few hours ago. NFL Films’ “The Browns are Back” (1999) is worth a watch for the loyal Browns fan.
The video has a nice introduction from Clevelander Drew Carey and begins with a look back at the rich history of the organization. From the years of Paul Brown and Hall of Fame quarterback, Otto Graham (photo above), to the Jim Brown era, to the Kardiac Kids, to the Bernie Kosar years, the program provides a nostalgic overview of a very proud franchise.
The more interesting part of the video, however, covers the dynamics involved with the transition from Art Modell’s decision to head to Baltimore to the return of the Browns to the NFL in 1999. There are so many ironies that many of us likely forgot and which make the present situation in Brownstown very interesting. For example, remember that Mike Holmgren was a leading candidate for the head coaching position in Cleveland in 1999. Remember that Donovan McNabb was a leading candidate for the number one Draft pick of the Browns in 1999.
The program provides a unique insight into the Draft selection process. Cameras follow Dwight Clark and Chris Palmer as they visit and work out with potential number one Draft picks, including QBs Tim Couch and McNabb and running back Ricky Williams. Because the video was produced in 1999, one watching it now gets the benefit of knowing what has transpired in Cleveland over the last decade. Everyone seems so positive in the video – Palmer, Clark, Carmen Policy, Art Lerner, Bernie Kosar, and so on. Getting crushed by the Steelers in our first home game in our brand new Stadium burst the bubble a little, but being back in the League seemed to overshadow everything else.
One thing that really leaves one scratching his head is the Draft selection of Tim Couch. Palmer and Clark were clearly not impressed in the video after their first personal workout with Couch. They expressed serious concerns about his grip and his arm strength. There was a second workout just prior to the Draft which seems to have caused the front office to take a 180 degree turn.
A very interesting video. I recommend it. I’m glad that my son dusted it off this morning. It gets you pumped for the Draft and training camp. It makes you wonder whether 1999 has something in common with 2010 in the sense that there seems to be more optimism this off-season with the new faces in town. Let us hope that the next ten years are not like the last decade.