Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

From the editor’s notebook …

davone bess troubleIt was quite the week for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Davone Bess, one where every time you thought you’d heard it all something new would come out.

Things started when Bess was arrested on Friday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and charged with simple assault on an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence. It then escalated on Saturday when Bess posted a naked photo of himself on Twitter; later in the day Coral Springs police officers came to the hotel where Bess was staying at on Saturday for what police are calling a medical call.

Then there is the fact that this isn’t the first time that Bess has had a problem. In March, it took six Broward County sheriff’s deputies to restrain Bess at his home. According to police reports, Bess was allegedly screaming, “Hide the guns!” “Where is my weed?” and “I want to get in the end zone; throw me the football!” That incident did not come to light until Friday afternoon, which will be an important point to remember in a moment.

There are three takeaways from the ongoing situation with Bess, the first dealing with Bess himself.

We can’t even begin to imagine what Bess is going through. From growing up poor in a single-family home to, at age 10, seeing his uncle murdered, Bess has had to overcome so much more than anyone should to get where he is. But it is clear that he still has many demons that he is struggling with, and all we can do is hope he gets the help he clearly needs.

The second takeaway is to question how much homework the Browns did before trading for Bess in April. On this point, we’re willing to cut the Browns a small amount of slack.

It would seem reasonable to expect that the Dolphins knew about the incident at Bess’ house, but a person’s medical record is protected by the U.S Department of Healthy and Human Services. So even if the Dolphins knew Bess was having problems, they could not legally say anything. And it’s not like Bess had a physical injury that would be revealed by a post-trade doctor’s physical.

But what about the Browns?

According to The Miami Herald, it only took someone from the newspaper two hours to acquire the police report after asking for it. If The Herald could find out, there’s no reason that the Browns could not have found out – if only they had looked.

We don’t know if a check of police records is standard operating procedure for the Browns when they are looking to trade for, draft or sign a player as a free agent, but if it is not, then someone in Berea better make sure it is from now on. 

Is it possible that the Browns knew about the incident and ignored it? No one outside of the team knows, obviously, but we found this quote from general manager Mike Lombardi interesting.

“It wasn’t a question of looking at it any deeper than he could make plays against people we have to play against and he’s been very productive,” Lombardi told the team’s website after making the trade.

Bess was a productive player with the Dolphins, no need to look at anything beyond that.

That brings us to our final takeaway.

Even if we give the Browns the benefit of the doubt that they had no way of knowing about Bess’ problems, that still doesn’t explain why they were in such a rush to give him a three-year contract extension the day after they traded for him. Bess was under contract already for 2013, yet the Browns rewarded him with a new contract before he had ever taken a snap in a Cleveland uniform. Yet they needed players like Alex Mack and T.J. Ward to “prove” that they are worthy of still wearing the Orange and Brown and both Mack and Ward are now Pro Bowlers who are scheduled to become free agents in March.

It’s important to remember that the same people who made those decisions are also the ones who will be deciding how to spend the Browns cap space and how to use all those draft picks that owner Jimmy Haslam is touting as a selling point to prospective head coaches and a disgruntled fan base.

That’s a reality that doesn’t fill us with a lot of confidence right now.

Liverpool drops points they can’t afford

suarez dive aston villaPretty much nothing went right on Saturday for Liverpool, which let Aston Villa of all teams walk out of Anfield with a point following the 2-2 draw.

The Reds were actually lucky to walk away with a point as they were outplayed by Villa and only equalized thanks to a, shall we say, dubious penalty on Brad Guzan that led to a Steven Gerrard goal on a penalty kick.

“Probably across the board we were not very good, myself included,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian in a bit of an understatement. “I felt we could be aggressive and our front two would really give them a problem, but we never got control of midfield and we couldn’t build the game from behind.”

The loss drops Liverpool eight points behind league-leaders Arsenal and, more importantly, means that if Everton wins on Monday, Liverpool will fall out of the top four – at least until the face Everton on Jan. 28.

“We are still in the (title race) because every team can lose points,” defender Kolo Toure told The Daily Mail. “For us, we just need to think about the next game 100 percent, try to win and try to be positive. Other teams will make errors. We just need to maintain our focus and believe in ourselves. In 16 games a lot can happen.”

We like Toure’s optimism, but the title may be a bit out of reach for Liverpool. The schedule does them a bit of a favor as they still have home matches with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and the aforementioned Everton. Of course, out of that group they have only beaten Spurs this season, so home or away it is going to be a rough road.

The return to health of Daniel Sturridge certainly helps the cause, and a reinforcement may be on the way as Rodgers has reportedly been given permission to go after Egyptian international Mohamed Salah, who currently plays for FC Basel, in the current transfer window. Of course, Salah is in demand from other clubs, so who knows if Liverpool owner John Henry will loosen the purse strings enough to help Rodgers close the deal.

Not bad, Cavs, not bad

Nice work by the Cleveland Cavaliers on their recent five-game road trip.

Normally going 3-2 on the trip would not be cause for celebration – especially considering the 44-point loss to Sacramento – but seeing as how the Cavs started the trip with just two road wins on the season, picking up three wins was a nice accomplishment.

The Cavs open a five-game homestand on Monday where they will face just two teams that currently have winning records – Dallas and Phoenix. With Cleveland just two games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, this could a be chance for the Cavs to get something going.

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images and Reuters)

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