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When Feel-Good Stories Die

After the Browns released LeCharles Bentley earlier this pre-season, they still had one potential feel-good story remaining in Gary Baxter.  Baxter blew out both his knees on one play two years ago, and was making an attempt at an unprecedented comeback to the playing field.  Today, that comeback attempt is on hold, if not over completely as the Browns terminated Gary Baxter’s contract.  Last week it was announced that Baxter had arthroscopic knee surgery to remove some cartilage.

“Last year we were able to hold a roster spot open for Gary as he attempted to make a monumental comeback,” said Browns General Manager Phil Savage. “After he underwent a knee scope last week, we are unfortunately not in a position to hold a roster spot this year. We are releasing Gary today in hopes he will be able to continue his rehab and get back into the NFL, either with another team, or possibly with the Browns. Gary has made tremendous strides thus far, and we believe he can play professional football again in the future.”

In this statement it seems like Phil Savage is covering his behind in order to avoid criticism that the Browns just dumped a guy when he was hurt.  I really do believe that the Browns acted ethically in this situation, though.  They did as much as any NFL franchise would do to keep a player around even when he wasn’t able to help the team.  This season with a serious lack of depth in the defensive backfield, the Browns were just not in a position to keep the Baxter dream alive.

And no, I don’t believe that Phil Savage and company actually think Baxter will ever be back in a Cleveland Browns uniform.  It was just a really upbeat, encouraging thing for him to say.

Gary Baxter is carted off after his career-threatening injury

Terry Glenn Waived

For all the Browns fans that were panicking about the injury to Browns third receiver Joe Jurevicius, the time for worry is over.  Sure, it would be great if Joe J was suited up and ready to go for training camp, but the bottom line is this.  The Browns have two good receivers in Braylon Edwards and Donte Stallworth.  Consider that last season the Browns were able to claw their way out of the basement of the NFL with Edwards, Jurevicius and Tim Carter playing wide receiver.  So now the Browns have Edwards, Stallworth, Jurevicius whenever he gets back from injury, and some younger guys like Travis Wilson, and Joshua Cribbs.

The Browns are deep right now and the options are only going to grow.  They have Kevin Kasper in camp competing for a WR job.  Eric Parker just got cut by the San Diego Chargers this week.  And now Terry Glenn has been waived by the Dallas Cowboys.  Glenn has had injury problems over the last few years, but he might be a very viable option for the Browns at third wide receiver.

I only point this out because this is the same thing that is going to happen with the cornerback position.  The Browns seem understaffed at that position now, but I am not concerned yet.  They have young guys in camp showing what they can do and if they fail, the Browns will have plenty of options from veterans who end up getting cut in favor of rookies who come into camp and shine.  Remember that the NFL is a salary-cap driven game.  If an NFL team can move a middle aged journeyman making decent money off the roster in favor of a third-round draft choice, the dollars dictate that they do so.

More on Shaun Rogers

Apparently we had it mostly right concerning Leigh Bodden being part of the deal for Shaun Rogers.  We assumed that because he was traded that Phil Savage thought Bodden had lost a step.  Turns out that that part might be true.  The thinking could be that Bodden, who has been prone to high ankle sprains in the past three years, might never have consistent health again.

The other part that I didn’t think of at first is that they were probably expecting Bodden to hold out with two years left on his deal.  Bodden (and his agent) would certainly consider him to be more valuable than the $2.5 – 3 million that he has coming per year over the next two years.  To the Browns’ credit, tather than paying all that money for a DB who might have already hit his career peak, it appears Savage wants to bet Romeo Crennel can get Shaun Rogers to perform for a full season.

I have been critical of Romeo in every phase of the game, but the guys on the message boards brought me around on the fact that he has the support of the players and is very good at being a player’s coach.

Let’s hope that Romeo can continue to develop Shaun Rogers’ character and work ethic now that he has joined the Cleveland Browns.  If he can get Rogers to play consistently and take his conditioning seriously, there is no telling how much impact he can make on the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line.  Maybe he can make enough impact that whoever takes over for Bodden will be able to carry the load in the defensive backfield.

Cleveland Fans for Sonics Fans

I am writing this as a result of the apparent move by the new owner of the Seattle Supersonics to hijack that team and move it to Oklahoma City. I am amazed that I don’t hear more outrage from Cleveland fans regarding this situation. I know we are all very happy here right now in the NBA with LeBron James and the blockbuster deal that Danny Ferry just pulled off to rid this town of Larry Hughes. I know that our noses are buried deep in the newspaper watching the moves that Phil Savage pulls off to rebuild the defense and rise above a surprising 10-win season. But Cleveland fans should be screaming almost as loudly as Seattle fans as cross-country advocates for a city that appears to be about to lose its team.

It is a situation that is so familiar to Clevelanders. We lost the Browns because Art Modell wanted to hold the city at gunpoint over a new stadium. Sure there was some bad political play in there as well, but the bottom line is that Cleveland lost their football team and it never should have happened. Well, Seattle shouldn’t lose their basketball team either just because some guy has tons and tons of money. He could afford the team, but to put his desires and wishes above all those basketball fans who have been following the Sonics for 40+ years is ridiculous.

Just like what happened in Cleveland, there are a lot of people to blame in Seattle. I am not going to go into the blame game except one place. Just like Paul Tagliabue never should have allowed Art Modell to move the Browns out of Cleveland, David Stern should not allow the Sonics to be moved out of Seattle. You shouldn’t allow that to happen to a fan base in a city that has traditionally supported the team. Even if the Sonics have lost money over the last few years, the NBA as a business has not. It is a franchise agreement and it is up to the NBA to wade through the details of making every one of their clubs profitable. It is hard for me to believe that Stern would allow this long-standing franchise with a good track record to be swiped from a traditional NBA city. It is bad business to bring harm to your fan base.

Anyway, I don’t really care about the issues in this case. All I care about is a fan base is about to lose their team. That is where I identify with Seattle today. I support their plight to save their team and I hope that they are at least as successful as the Cleveland fans were in keeping their team identity even as all the players, ownership and staff left to become the Baltimore Ravens. I would hope that other Cleveland fans would at least speak up in support of the Seattle Sonics fans. If anyone out in this world of professional sports fans can understand the horrible suffering they are facing, it is all the rabid Browns fans in Cleveland.

Browns Trade for Corey Williams

According the the Plain Dealer, Corey Williams is the newest member of the Cleveland Browns. Williams will be joining the Browns in exchange for a second round draft choice, contingent on the Browns’ signing of Williams to a multi-year deal.

When a team’s run defense consistently ranks anywhere in the high twenties and thirties in the entire league for multiple years in a row, it is time to do something to change the look of the defense. Bringing in a 6 foot 4 inch 320 pound monster of a defensive end who is known for his “speed” in getting to the QB, you are headed in the right direction.

The Browns traded their second round pick, which was the only pick they had left in the first two rounds because of the trade they made with Dallas last year to get Brady Quinn. What this tells me is that Phil Savage is expecting to pick up a first and third round draft pick when someone signs Derek Anderson.

This is good news all the way around. Derek Anderson might go on to do great things, but then again he might fall flat. Obviously, Phil Savage feels like DA was a product of the system that Rob Chudzinski installed for the Browns’ offense this season. All Browns fans can do is hope that he is right. There will be no QB controversy this year. Brady Quinn is your new starting QB. He will do battle with one of the best offensive lines, and hopefully a defense that can compete more consistently than the one that was on the field last year.

LZ Granderson Uses Brady Quinn Unfairly for Gay Agenda

LZ Granderson is a sports writer for ESPN’s Page 2. He wrote a long article filled with misdirection, emotional manipulation and speculation about Brady Quinn and how he wants a longer investigation into an alleged incident involving the word “faggot” outside of a bar in Columbus on New Year’s eve.

To start the article, Granderson talks about a scary situation from the NBA’s All-Star weekend where he was gay bashed and physically assaulted.

As I walked by the group of men — on my way to the Playboy party, no less — one of them called me a faggot. Then another joined in. They followed me for a while, continuing to hurl names at me. I tried to ignore it but eventually the “Detroit” came out of me and I turned around and said some things I probably shouldn’t have. Next thing I know I’m surrounded and wondering if I’m going to see the dawn and if not for a pair of New Orleans policemen who saw trouble brewing and yelled at the group to break it up, I might not have.

Now, I know that situation sounds scary. I would be terrified in that situation too. There is no reason why anyone should have to put up with the kind of bigotry described in that paragraph. But look at how it reads. Granderson blatantly calls out the word he was called and yet refers to the things he said as “things I probably shouldn’t have.” Now, I have no reason not to believe Granderson’s story, but the fact is that it is a one-sided account which leaves out any details of the things that might have been hateful that spewed out of Granderson’s mouth. What were those “things” he probably shouldn’t have said?

Now, I wouldn’t have a problem with this story normally because columnists write their one-sided opinions all the time. It is their job as a columnist to do so. They are looking to make you think about the stuff that they are saying and usually they want you to agree with them. The problem I have is that Granderson goes on to use this story to talk about why he thinks the Brady Quinn situation should be investigated further.

I will remind you that the Brady Quinn situation involved some people in a shared parking lot between a restaurant and a gay bar. According to the reports from that, a man called 9-1-1 saying that Brady Quinn was part of a group that was yelling gay slurs at him and other people.

The story of Quinn and his alleged night of gay bashing is filled with sketchy details at best.

  • The incident happened on New Years and the story didn’t come out until February 13th.
  • Some guy named Harris calls 9-1-1 to report the incident, but Quinn was fighting with a dude named Thompson.
  • When the cops showed Quinn was cooperative.
  • Thompson was arrested for refusing police orders.
  • Harris was contacted later and said that Quinn “wasn’t as involved as” others.
  • Harris also told the press later of Quinn, “He was standing back and letting his friends do most of it.”

And those are all the details on the case. That is what was uncovered by the press, and the police. Don’t you think if there was something more substantial there that it might have come out?

But apparently this amount of information isn’t good enough for LZ Granderson on ESPN’s Page 2. He goes on to talk about Brady Quinn and Mathew Shepard in the same paragraph. Let’s take this down a notch, please. We have a guy who might or might not have said anything at all in a verbal altercation (Quinn) in a parking lot and that is being contrasted with the most brutal hate-fueled gay bashing murder in the history of the United States. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think that is a tad bit unfair.

And don’t think for a second that I am some knuckle-dragging, anti-gay, blogger with the opposite agenda of Granderson. I do support gay rights and think that bigotry should be handled appropriately. Speaking of which, Granderson also talks about Tim Hardaway’s incident from last year where Hardaway ranted about not liking gay people on the radio. Does Granderson forget that Tim Hardaway was excused from all NBA activities that he had been invited to take part in? Does Granderson forget that Tim Hardaway was also fired from his job with the CBA’s Indiana Alley Cats.

This isn’t to say that this nation is where it needs to be in terms of acceptance of gay people, but I think Tim Hardaway is a good example of the kinds of reactions that we should expect to see when someone proves themselves to be a bigot.

And maybe Brady Quinn has a problem with bigotry too. I don’t know. I wasn’t at the scene of this alleged incident. I can’t see inside Brady Quinn’s heart to know how he feels. What I do know is that he issued a flat denial of the incident. I know that there is a sketchy account on 9-1-1. I know that the other party involved in the alleged fight was the one who got arrested. I know that Quinn cooperated and was not arrested. I know that it took a long time for this article to come out, which usually means someone was digging for something bigger and didn’t find anything.

What we are left with is a legitimate agenda being pushed forward in a dishonest manner at the expense of an athlete with no prior record of wrong-doing. That seems almost as unfair as being attacked in the street for no apparent reason. I don’t even have a problem with Granderson wanting further investigation into Quinn’s activities, but does he have to use evidence like the attack he received over the weekend and Mathew Shepard as evidence to do it? It seems highly overstated to me when we are talking about a he-said he-said incident on one of the drunkest nights of the year and little, to no substantial evidence to prove one way or another what happened that night.

Josh Booty Tased in Cali

Now that the Browns have a couple of semi-legit (we hope) options at QB, it is easier to laugh at a story of Josh Booty getting tased after being pulled over during an uncooperative drunk driving arrest.  Booty lost his proverbial shit, had to be subdued with “less than lethal” force.  That is funny enough, but he then fell to the ground, cracked his head open and had to be taken to the hospital.  The mugshot is priceless.

(From TMZ)
Josh Booty Looking like a sack of crap

I am so glad that the Browns don’t have to count on a guy like Josh Booty anymore.  In fact it is nice to know that the Browns will never have to rely on Booty, Spergon Wynn, Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Doug Pederson, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, or Charlie Frye ever again.

(Please don’t let karma put one of these guys back on the Browns’ roster because of this post.  Please please please.)

Could Pro Bowl Hurt Derek Anderson?

Apparently the game doesn’t mean much to the rest of the world. Still after the stinker of a performance that Derek Anderson put together yesterday in Hawaii in place of Tom Brady, I have to wonder if it will hurt his restricted free agency status. Anderson completed 10 out of 26 passes for 103 yards, one interception and he got stripped once. On top of that, Anderson probably had every reason to feel comfortable with three teammates on the field with him at all times. Joe Thomas was blocking in front of him, and he had Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow running routes for him. And still, in a game where defensive backs are not allowed to play press coverage, Derek Anderson couldn’t get anything going. Compared to his peers in the game, Anderson was dismal.

Peyton Manning was 11 out of 16 for 147 yards

Ben Roethlisberger was 5 out of 9 for 42 yards

Jeff Garcia was 8 out of 10 for 117 yards

Tony Romo was 9 out of 16 for 87 yards

Matt Hasselbeck was 7 out of 9 for 78 yards

In Anderson’s defense, it has been a while since he last played because the Browns didn’t make the playoffs. Then again, NOT to Anderson’s defense the Browns didn’t MAKE THE PLAYOFFS.

Anyway, this might all just be a waste of my typing if the Pro Bowl truly doesn’t mean a thing. But it just seems to me that a guy who is out there scoffing at the Browns offers and reportedly looking for Tony Romo money, an exhibition that is set up for QB’s to perform really really well should probably work in your favor. And if for some reason it doesn’t, I should expect the likes of the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins (teams that need quarterbacks) to take notice.

But, maybe not.

Sargeant Winslow Wants a New Deal

Kellen Winslow had an amazing season, amassing over 1000 yards in receiving. Now he wants to get some of that “new” money, as he called it in an interview on Sirius radio this week. Winslow is one of the most talented tight ends in the league, to be sure, but based on Winslow’s history, this should be very interesting. Steve Trautman: Knowledge Transfer Plan has done tons of damage to his body in his career, but the most damage stemmed from his off-field escapades on a crotch rocket that he crashed over a curb in a parking lot and into some bushes. As a result, Winslow plays with tons of pain. He is unable to practice a lot of weeks. He saves it all up and leaves it all out on the field on Sunday. The sad thing is that Winslow probably won’t ever be able to play the game of football pain free ever again.

And that is where the difficulty comes in. While the Browns love their superstar tight end, there is definitely a business risk posed by allocating any more money from the salary cap to a player who battles through so many injuries during the season. They have to sit by every off-season as Winslow gets more and more surgeries to clean things up in that knee. They have to sit there and hope that Winslow will be able to recover one more time to lay it all out again on the field.

Due to the fact that Winslow’s motorcycle accident was off the field and apparently in opposition to some clauses in his contract, the Browns renegotiated him after he had the accident. They had payed him all kinds of bonuses in signing his original deal and rather than asking for money back, they gave him a deal that was more heavily weighted to incentives. Now, apparently, that kind of a deal isn’t good enough for a tight end who has had two solid seasons in a row.

I don’t totally disagree. I am sure there is a happy medium somewhere. Winslow probably deserves a bit more guaranteed money with his health issues. He really does risk a ton every time he steps onto the field and he should be compensated for that. At the same time, it is a huge business risk for the Browns because Winslow has so many miles on that body of his. So, if Winslow is looking to be the highest paid tight end in the league, he can keep dreaming. At the same time, he should be able to get a few more guaranteed dollars out of the Browns in return for the huge risks he takes in getting on the field week in and week out.

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