It is always silly season when it comes to the Cleveland Browns
By Thomas Moore
Dec 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) talks to team owner Jimmy Haslam (L) prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to the Cleveland Browns, there is never a shortage of silliness surrounding the team. Even when it is not deserved.
The Cleveland Browns have done plenty on their own to make fans question just why they continue to give their time, money and hearts to the franchise.
After all, this is a team that has posted just two winning seasons, one playoff appearance and no post-season wins since 1994.
But it still surprises us – even though it probably shouldn’t by now – when people go out of their way to add to the nonsense, a point that has been driven home on two occasions this week.
The first came on Sunday, when quarterback Johnny Manziel was signing autographs prior to the game against the San Francisco 49ers. Manziel was handed a $100 bill and he signed it. A cute anecdote? Certainly. A fun moment for the fan who received the autograph? Of course. Is this the first time Manziel has been asked to sign what we’ll call a non-traditional item? Highly doubtful.
“This isn’t the first time that I’ve said a lot of one topic and one small fragment of it was made into a headline.” – Head coach Mike Pettine
Of course, Manziel was criticized for the move, most notably by Terry Bradshaw on the Fox NFL Sunday pregame show.
“I wouldn’t even give him this chance. I’ve had a belly full of him,” Bradshaw said. “That guy hasn’t grown up and don’t give me the excuse that’s he’s young. As far as I’m concerned, he just needs to go home. I’m done with him.
“Oh my God. Here’s a guy who’s done nothing and all we all do is show him on TV.”
Manziel has certainly had his share of problems since entering the NFL, but signing an autograph for a fan prior to a game is not one of them. (It’s not as if Manziel was tossing pre-signed $100 bills into the crowd.)
That little bit of nonsense was topped yesterday during head coach Mike Pettine‘s daily press conference with the media.
Pettine was asked if Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is a “Top 10 quarterback,” (a stupid question in its own right and one born from the ongoing need to classify quarterbacks as elite or not) and this is what Pettine said:
"“He has ascended. He plays at a high level. He is very productive and they win. A lot of that I think is a function, too, of him being the perfect quarterback for what they do. To me, it goes both ways. They have also built it around him. Would you put him up there with the guys that can transcend their supporting cast – the (Patriots QB Tom) Bradys, (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers, (Saints QB Drew) Brees, (Steelers QB Ben) Roethlisberger, the ones that you would consider the two, three, four elite guys? No. But he has certainly played himself into that next tier.”"
Pettine gave a solid, straightforward answer to a nonsense question. And he’s right – Wilson does play at a high level, the Seahawks do win, and Wilson is not as accomplished (at this point) as Brady, Rodgers, Brees and Roethlisberger, who have played a combined 61 years and have eight Super Bowl titles among them.
But, again, it’s the Browns so the derp rolled out quickly:
Because, as everyone knows, wins and losses fall solely on the shoulders of the quarterback. (And, apparently, it is OK for Wilson’s own offensive coordinator to question him.)
Because, of course, with everything going on around the Browns, the head coach would go out of his way to “diss” another player.
The national media was quick to take Pettine’s quotes a wee bit out of context:
Pettine: Russell Wilson not an elite-tier QB (NFL.com)
Russell Wilson: Seahawks QB not yet elite (SI.com)
Mike Pettine has some nerve talking recklessly about Russell Wilson (Sporting News)
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Well, you get the point.
Not to be outdone, the dark alley of Browns Twitter jumped into the fray with the ridiculous notion that Pettine’s comment – not the actual comment, but the out-of-context one – would give the Seahawks “bulletin-board material” and added motivation for Sunday’s game.
So let’s try and piece this together: the Seahawks have won four consecutive games, outscored their opponents in those four games by an average of 21 points, and can take a big step toward securing a playoff spot on Sunday, but “bulletin-board material” is what is going to make a difference?
‘Tis the season!