We’ve entered no man’s land. There are going to be endless draft analyses, pre-draft reports, and mock drafts (of which I’ll surely take part in a couple, but we’ll burn that bridge when we cross it) in the following months.
The NFL Draft, which is occasionally referred to as the “Cleveland Browns’ Super Bowl,” is just a little more than yours truly can handle right now.
I love the NFL, I love the Cleveland Browns, and I love having a day where I can hope that the Cleveland Browns will become more relevant in the NFL – so I do love draft day. But I’ve been feeling a disconnect over the last couple of years.
One of the most fun days of my life was the Joe Thomas/Brady Quinn/Eric Wright draft of 2007. I was with a group of my best friends for most of the day and the only time I wasn’t with them, I was with my brother and some more good friends to celebrate this gorgeous mix of sure-fire NFL studs that would re-shape the team.
You know how this story unfolds. It’s 2012 and we’re basically in the same position, except the Browns now have a giant running back and a stud left tackle from those three guys. As a result, forgive me if I’m not gung-ho about selling my soul into draft coverage for the next ten weeks.
I think I’ve become a different kind of Browns fan in recent years: I can’t justify throwing all of my heart and energy into a team that eternally disappoints, so I try to detach myself from it. Of course, if it’s a close game in the final seconds, you can bet that I’m standing, pacing, yelling, and making a general fool of myself in front of any number of people who might be near me.
I’m tying a new theory that has thus far quasi-paid off: I’m trying to just trust the guys who spend their lives being paid to know more than me about football. I can write about it, I can watch a ton of it, and I can interpret analysis from all parties who provide their analysis. However, the difference is that A) I’m not being paid six-to-seven figures, and B) my opinion doesn’t matter to anyone who has the authority to make decisions regarding the welfare of the Cleveland Browns.
So the game for me is to simply let them do what they do. From the top of the organization to the bottom, these are professionals. While some have better track records than others, the likelihood of these gentlemen getting to where they are by accident is quite low. They have some semblance of knowing what they’re doing and I have to respect that track record because it’s not going to change. Fans have no real choice other than to let the decision makers make decisions.
I’m sure I’ve touched on this before, but I’m going to just trust Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert, and whoever else is involved in things because it’s what’s going to make me feel okay about it. If they fail, that’s a familiar feeling, so I’m not terrified for that consequence. The only thing I don’t want is to spend all of my time complaining about who is pulling the strings, then have that person lose their job and have someone equally inept come in.
Much has been said about the “winning attitude” that needs to exist with the Browns. A tradition of futility has taken hold over the last 13 years (after a brief tradition of non-existence, as you may recall) and there are theories that parts of it are mental and in-house emotional turmoil. I obviously can’t speak for what goes on behind closed doors, but there is unquestionably a defeatist attitude from the fans after all that we’ve seen and experienced – how could there not be? But if new people are coming in to make decisions – people who have solid track records and no ties to the Browns and their losing ways – then what is there to do other than let them run their course and hope for the best?
So bring it on, Browns staff. Do whatever you feel like doing. I’ll be irritated if you salvage your two first-rounders to move up two spots for the classic quarterback gamble, and I’ll also be a little irritated if you spend a ton of money on a quarterback who is Kevin Kolb 2.0 but with less experience (Why am I not reading more about this? Everyone is still all over Matt Flynn - are people talking about how he’s only played in a couple games over the last few years? If they are, I’m not reading it, though maybe it’s because I avoid ESPN like the plague.). But these irritations will be with a grain of salt. I reserve judgment on anything until at least a year later when it comes to personnel, and quite often it takes much longer than that.
Thankfully I’ll be overwhelmingly busy for the next two months and the draft will be upon us before this writer realizes it. Ignorance is bliss. And it’s probably the best option for Browns fans.