The Cleveland Browns have a stigma attached to them in the media. The laughter over the QB jersey with all the names on it. The Mike Polk Jr. skit. The regular transition from coach to coach and GM to GM, and sometimes to CEO/President types. All of those things have led the Browns to be a national punch line.
Yet today’s release of an ESPN.com poll to over 100 anonymous players reveals that NFL players also don’t see a lot of positives in the Browns. The Browns ranked as the 3rd least desirable team to play for in the NFL. ESPN gathered this information based on how players answered this question:
“The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”
A pretty good question to get an idea of who players don’t want to play for indeed. The Browns got 16 percent of the vote, trailing only the Raiders (23%) and the Bills (19%). Jacksonville followed with 9 percent and Green Bay rounded out the top 5 at 6%. While it doesn’t impact the Browns directly on the field it does create some concern in their ability to bring in free agents on appropriate deals. Will the Browns always have to overpay to acquire talent on the free agent market?
The top 4 teams have one thing in common: constant losing. The Raiders, Bills, Browns and Jaguars are perennial Top 5, 10 pickers in the NFL Draft. The Packers on the other hand have been constant winners over the past 2 decades and still find themselves in the Top 5. Along with the Browns and the Bills, the Packers have the problem of playing in cold weather, smaller cities that don’t interest players as much.
What does this say about the Browns? They need to win and have stability for this number to change. Yet, as the Packers show, even if they start to win many players will have no interest in playing in a cold weather city. Could a unique star like Johnny Manziel, if/when he takes over as a starter, change some of that perception? Sure but there will always be players who choose Miami over Cleveland for the weather, everything else being the same.
Does this poll surprise you?