Even now, the 0-16 season for the Cleveland Browns is inexcusable
Most people would rather forget about the dim, distant days of 2017 when the Cleveland Browns managed to go 0-16. However, this fan has never gotten over it, and probably never will.
Maybe all the losing made 0-16 seems acceptable in some way. It was dumbfounding to hear other fans rationalize that, gosh, maybe it was not coach Hue Jackson’s fault. Or maybe general manager Sashi Brown had been given a raw deal (you will recall he did not make it to the end of the season when John Dorsey was hired in the wake of a scandal involving a failure to trade away the team for coach Hue Jackson’s next superstar quarterback, A. J. McCarron).
No, no, no, no. This is a competitive sport and going winless should be treated as a catastrophe. After all, this is the team of Otto Graham, Bill Willis, Marion Motley, Jim Brown, Bernie Kosar, Kevin Mack, and Earnest Byner. A computer or an auditor might take the view that 0-16 is not much worse than 1-5, but that would be wrong.
A record-setting losing season produces an indelible mark on the team, just as winning a Super Bowl is forever part of the team. A case in point: the New York Mets in baseball are famous for winning the 1969 World Series. The second most famous team is the one that lost 120 games in 1962.
It is an unbelievable embarrassment. In fact, if fans are not embarrassed, they should be embarrassed about not being embarrassed. You have to at least acknowledge that you were humiliated.
But the worst part, the most maddening part about 0-16 was that the team was not really afraid to go 0-16. Coach Hue Jackson was actually expecting a third season and more, and Sashi Brown was left feeling like he got a raw deal, like he should have been allowed to continue. They should have had zero doubt that it was impossible to retain either one of them if the team goes winless.
In this fan’s opinion, ownership — not just the Browns, but any NFL owner — has to make it clear, that a winless season is the automatic death penalty for the general manager, the coach, and anyone else who pisses off the owner. Put it this way, team mascot SJ the bullmastiff had better not make a mess indoors because he is not safe either.
Dee and Jimmy should have made it one thousand percent clear, “You embarrass this city, embarrass this team, embarrass our family, and you guys are gone. We will fire the GM. We will also fire the head coach. Do not even think of trying to blame it on the other guy because you are both gone. We will also fire anyone else on staff that we feel the need to remove. You cannot go 0-16 under any circumstances.”
It does not mean that anyone needs to hate Brown or Jackson, who did their best in the hardest game in the world, and they both did some good things in addition to a few minor cosmic cataclysms of bad judgment. However, 0-16 does mean that it is time to allow others to have a chance to try to see whether they can get it done. This is sports. Winners are rewarded, and losers have to step aside to let someone else have a chance. It should be as simple as that.