“Camp Colt,” apparently concludes today. Currently locked out, various Browns players joined quarterback Colt McCoy at the University of Texas for a week of voluntary practice. This means we’re talking about practice man, practice.
The merits of such rare, unsupervised team activities can be debated. I personally don’t think it can hurt, unless of course someone gets hurt.
But the real issue here is how emphatically the Browns are touting Colt McCoy as the practice organizer, i.e. the team leader. I mean the guy who persuades you to go to work without pay must have some pull right?
Maybe on the surface it’s a nice little a PR story to keep fans listening in a time of uncertainty, but along with that, the Browns are really setting up Colt to be the face of their franchise.
And they need it. They need to find that face, that new identity… and the fans need it too. We needed it like, yesterday, when a very famous athlete apologized for giving up on us (I’ll give you a hint, his name rhymes with LeJohn Flames). We didn’t take that too well, and we’ve realized we’re still in recovery.
And understandably so, that’s a cut that runs deep. 100 different Clevelanders would probably give you 100 different reasons why they are still so angry. I’ve got 100 reasons all by myself, and I now think one of them is: The Cavaliers identity, what they were, what they represented to us and what we loved, is suddenly gone, and there is anger stemming from this emptiness we now feel.
This is the era of Cleveland sports in flux. All three of our major sports teams are redefining themselves, and the fans are grasping for something to hold on to.
We are struggling to fill the void as things change, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Most of the 2007 Indians’ recognizable faces are gone, but the 2011 version is rounding into form all of the sudden. It might be a slow process, but they are winning, and we are starting to see their personality: A Major League style band of overachievers, too young to know they aren’t supposed to be winning and too hungry to care.
Maybe as we discover their identity, we remember that’s the best part––Getting to know a team and bonding with them; finding pieces of ourselves in them.
If there is anything to love about sports, it’s that.
Think about how fun this would be if the Browns could finally figure it out. I mean, we are all going to the games anyway. But if they gave us something else, a team instead of just football, this town would truly be changed.
The Browns have failed epically at this identity thing ever since the move. The last season of success we tasted was in 2007, but was that really a team Cleveland identified with? Did we really see Derek Anderson as the face of our team? Did we really identity with Jamal Lewis, or Kellen Winslow, or Braylon Edwards?
Wait, I got it, we all identified with Ryan Pontbriand, how silly of me…
We’ve never known what the Browns are. We’ve seen them go from an expansion team, to a defensive team that never stopped the run, to a deep strike team with a brainless quarterback, to a team with a Tecmo Bowl offense of 4 running plays. What’s next? It’s the West Coast Rodeo Offense with Billy The Kid out front.
That sounds like a fun team I can get behind, but will it work? Will this Camp Colt idea the Browns are selling us stick?
I hope so, because it’s too late to go back. They’ve already started printing their Colt McCoy for President posters, and that’s the part that makes me nervous.
What happens to a team that is told to step in line behind an anointed leader, who fails? The coaches and front office look like idiots, the players start to doubt the team, the locker room becomes divided, the foundation of the team collapses, all the bad stuff.
So this is a gamble. Colt McCoy definitely talks the talk, but he has yet to walk the walk. If they get this one wrong it means they’ll be redefining the structure of the team to their players, and repackaging yet another identity for the fans.
But if they somehow got this one right, they’d really be on to something. All the pieces are there: Joe Haden in full Cavs gear, Peyton Hillis voted to the cover of Madden, Josh Cribbs still the people’s champ. They just need Colt to tie it all together.
All players humble, young, tough, and proud to be in Cleveland. Now I’m on to something, that would be the perfect identity for us.
A wise man named John J. Rambo once said: “I want, what they want, and every other guy who came over here and spilled his guts and gave everything he had, wants! For our Browns to love us as much as we love them!”
Anyway, go Browns.