Five amazingly stupid myths about the Cleveland Browns

Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and strong safety Chuck Clark (36) defend during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) runs for a touchdown as Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and strong safety Chuck Clark (36) defend during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns Myth No. 4: Odell Beckham, Jr. is a locker room cancer.

Odell Beckham, Jr. is a team leader, well-liked by his teammates. Jarvis Landry, his teammate from college is one of his best friends. Baker Mayfield loves him. He is respected by the coaching staff. He has a burning desire to win.

He is also flamboyant, charismatic, opinionated, speaks his mind and has a pretty good idea of who he is. He complains when the team loses, and he when he thinks it is headed in the wrong direction. He was not happy with 6-10 in 2019 (were you?). He did not think that Freddie Kitchens was a good coach and nor did he believe in the Todd Monken offense (did you?). He offered constructive criticism and always supported Baker Mayfield.

Amazingly enough, the rumor that OBJ hates Cleveland and wants out has also been promoted by Colin Cowherd and his secret sources. Does anyone detect a pattern here?

This report about the Vikings, however, totally lacks credibility because in 2020, the Vikings were way overspent on their salary cap and had to jettison veterans like Everson Griffen, Trae Waynes, Linval Joseph and others. Moreoer, they did not sign a free agent wide receiver that offseason.

Good try, Mr. Cowherd, but my non-secret sources say that whoever your secret sources is, he or she is completely, utterly ignorant of the reality of salary cap math. Period. The Vikings were simply incapable of putting together a deal of OBJ.

Now, as for us Browns fans, the awful decision we must come to terms with is whether we are prepared to deal with star wide receivers or not. We were spoiled by players like Dante Lavelli, Paul Warfield and Dave Logan, who were solid citizens as well as sensational football players. But these fellows are not the norm.

If you want to read about the psychological profile of star wide receivers, for some light reading check out the PhD Dissertation of Sheryl Faith Packman, Relationship between psychological characteristics and performance in professional football. Fordham University, 2008. If that is too deep, try Cris Carter and Jeffri Chadiha, Going Deep: How Wide Receivers Became the Most Compelling Figures in Pro Sports, Hachette Books, July 30, 2013.

But my favorite story that typifies the eccentricity of a star wide receiver is Michael Irvin’s story on himself, sneaking out of a team meeting at halftime of the Super Bowl, because he wanted to watch Michael Jackson perform. Did you really do that, Michael? “Oh, ab-so-LUTE-ly!”

Now coach Jimmy Johnson was about as stern a disciplinarian as there ever was, and quarterback Troy Aikman was about the most serious and businesslike of quarterbacks you will ever want to see. But in the most important game of his life, Michael Irvin is sneaking out of the team meeting to go watch the halftime show. Unbelieveable! But wide receivers tend to do stuff like that.

Irvin, like many star receivers, had a few screws loose, and if you told him that he would probably agree and laugh about it today. But all three of those Cowboys made the Hall of Fame, and they won that Super Bowl, didn’t they? I cannot explain why wide receivers have this unique tendency to act like looney toons at times, but they do, and yet you can win with them.

It’s very easy to imagine that OBJ might get involved in that sort of mischief and some of the fan base might go crazy on him. For example, one of the nuttiest things OBJ has done was to hand out hundred dollar bills mixed with play money in the end zone when his alma mater, Louisiana State University, won the National Championship, causing complete chaos.

If an offensive lineman did that, he should be fired on the spot. With a wide receiver, temporary insanity is an acceptable plea.

We are familiar and perhaps all too comfortable with less colorful personalities like Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt — players who just made us close our eyes but who did not really attract much attention. That’s not what I want. I’ll detail with insane wide receivers if they can catch enough footballs.

That’s not to say that OBJ’s as good as Michael Irvin and Cris Carter. He’s not. In fact, it’s been pointed out that many of Mayfield’s INTs are intended for OBJ. There are two reasons for this. One is that OBJ needs to run better patterns and get open sooner. Many observers point out that Mayfield locks on to OBJ and holds the ball too long.

Maybe it’s because he is not sure where OBJ is going. They need to clean up those routes and get on the same page. The second issue is that OBJ is great at going up and making one handed catches, and in fact he is the best of all time at that particular skill. But maybe that is not where Mayfield needs to be throwing the ball.

Alex Van Pelt and Kevin Stefanski are asking Mayfield to throw a lot of balls about an inch above the turf where only a Browns receiver can catch the ball. The high passes are very exciting, but they are not high percentage passes, and something can go wrong.

A healthy OBJ who improves his patterns might accumulate 90 catches for 1,400 yards and return to the Pro Bowl.