Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Apparently, the Browns had a monster draft

We were very happy with what the Browns did on draft weekend a few weeks back.

Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Greg Little, and the rest were all solid picks, filling holes along the roster.

But if their former coaches are to be believed, our enthusiasm was unnecessarily muted.

Little’s receivers coach at North Carolina is convinced that his former star can make an impact as a rookie – and beyond.

“Greg made it his mission to the get the NFL, and now that he’s there, he’s going to have to continue to work at it,” Charlie Williams, Little’s coach at UNC, told The Plain Dealer. “How hard he works during the off-season and season will determine how long he stays in the league.

“If Greg had played his senior year, he would’ve had big numbers. I don’t know where he would’ve stacked up with (A.J. Green and Julio Jones), but I truly believe if Greg had played his senior year, he would’ve had a chance to be a first-rounder.”

And the Browns final pick, safety Erig Hagg, was the “steal of the draft” according to his position coach at Nebraska, Carl Pelini.

”Truthfully, as we look at our personnel for next year, trying to replace Eric is probably our most difficult task because he was such a versatile player,” Pelini told the Beacon Journal. ”He’s a long safety who was physical in run support, and yet he was as good a cover guy as any of our corners.

”In my mind, Eric was probably our defensive MVP for the last two years. You can use him in so many different ways and in so many different roles. Guys like him don’t come along very often.”

It bears mentioning that Hagg played on a defense that featured Prince Amukamara and Ndamukong Suh, both first-round draft picks, and six other Cornhuskers who were drafted this year.

Now it’s true that the coaches are probably over-selling the players a bit, but right now they know them better than anyone else. And it’s good to know the Browns selected players that come so highly recommended.

Let’s hope we have a chance to see them on the field this fall.

***

How much would not having the Browns play this season hurt Northeast Ohio?

No one’s really sure, but it won’t be pretty. Estimates on how much the Browns mean to the local economy range from $34.6 million to $63 million, according to The Plain Dealer.

However, that number may be a bit inflated.

“Browns weekends are very good weekends downtown, there’s no doubt about it,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. “But the economic impact from sports teams and sporting events is driven by out-of-town visitors, people who come in from out of market and spend their money in market. The vast majority of fans at games are locals. So, from that standpoint, I’d say [a lockout] hurts, but is not devastating.”

There’s no question, though, that Berea will take a big hit if the lockout wipes out or shortens training camp.

Restaurants, gas stations and coffee shops, among others, will feel a bite if the 10,000 or more fans who visit training camp each year don’t have anything to watch.

The Browns are Berea’s biggest income-tax contributor, providing more than a quarter of the city’s income-tax base – that was $2.49 million in 2010.

It’s going to be bad enough if there is no football to watch. The economic impact will just make it worse.

***

How amazing has Liverpool’s run been since Kenny Dalglish took over as manager?

The Reds made it 13 goals in their last three games and Maxi Rodriguez completed his second hat-trick over the same period, as Liverpool rolled over Fulham, 5-2, on Tuesday and tightened the noose around Tottenham Hotspur.

This from a club that was sitting in 12th place when King Kenny took the helm in January. Since then, Liverpool has taken 33 points from a possible 48 to overtake Spurs for fifth place.

Tottenham Hotspur has a game in hand, which comes Tuesday when they take on Manchester City. Lose, and Spurs are two points back of Liverpool with two games to play.

And they face the prospect of heading to Anfield on Sunday with the winner almost certain to grab the all-important fifth spot and a place in Europe next year.

Should be one heck of a game.

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