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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “ESPN”

ESPN turns its 30 for 30 focus on Cleveland sports fans

ESPN-30-for-30ESPN has decided that Cleveland sports are ready for a closeup with the announcement that the network is making a 30 for 30 film about Cleveland sports fans.

Well this is certainly going to be fun.

All kidding aside, this has the potential to be interesting – we can’t really say entertaining, now can we? – and there is little doubt it will be well produced. We haven’t watched all of the films so far in the series, some of the subject matter just wasn’t that interesting, but the ones we have seen have all been very well done. According to ESPN’s website, the documentary series is “similar to feature-length films in that each piece represents a specific point of view of the filmmaker and is a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style.”

Read more…

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Comings and goings at Browns camp

The Browns suffered their first “Cleveland” injury of training camp this week, losing punter Reggie Hodges for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

“He just reached up, and the snap was about head high,” coach Pat Shurmur said in published reports. “He did something he’s done a million times.”

Welcome to Cleveland, coach.

The team placed Hodges on injured reserve Wednesday and will now have to find someone to replace the talented punter.

While some may say, “it’s only a punter,” Hodges was a major asset to the team last season, with a gross average of 43.9 yards on 78 punts. His net of 39.0 was ninth in the league and his 29 punts inside the 20 were tied for eighth. He ranked third in the NFL with 15 punts downed inside the 10-yard line.

And we won’t soon forget his 68-yard run on a fake punt against New Orleans last season.

Those are all key numbers for a Browns team that is transitioning to the West Coast offense and a 4-3 defense. Playing the field position game is going to be important for this team as it figures things out in the first season under Shurmur.

Now that weapon is gone, at least for now.

“We’re gonna look for the best possible replacement that we can, and we’re gonna quickly address that,” Shurmur said in published reports. “We’ll have some guys in (today and) get a tryout going. We’ll have some guys in (today) and try to find the best possible guy that we can find at this time and keep hunting and searching for the guy that’s gonna be our punter.”

Turns out, that person is Richmond McGee, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent. McGee has spent training camps with the Eagles (2008) and the Bears (2009-10). Last season, he had a brief stint on the Bears’ practice squad.

***

In happier news, first-round pick Phil Taylor finally came to terms on a four-year contract and will be at practice when the Browns take the field Thursday afternoon.

“We’re very happy that we were able to sign Phil and now have all eight draft picks under contract,” said GM Tom Heckert in a statement. “It was important to get him in here when we did, and I want to thank (agent) Peter Schaffer for all of his help in getting this deal done. It’s apparent that Phil kept himself in excellent shape since we drafted him and he told us he can’t wait to get started. ”

The team also signed former Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson as they try to build some depth in the secondary.

Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, who coached the secondary in Philadelphia last season, and cornerback Sheldon Brown, a former Eagle, are familiar with Patterson. Bringing him in is no different than former coach Eric Mangini bringing in every ex-Jet short of Wahoo McDaniel the past two years.

Patterson has his detractors, with one writer at ESPN’s Grantland opining that “Patterson was a last resort at cornerback forced into action by injuries; teams avoided Asante Samuel and spent the second half throwing at the guy who the Philadelphia Inquirer politely noted ” … is better suited to special teams.”

If Patterson has to take on a starting role, the Browns are in trouble. But if he contributes on special teams and works his way onto the field as a dime back, things will probably be OK.

***

We’ve been wondering when and how the Browns planned to spend their available cap space, which at the start of the week stood at $30.4 million.

But it turns out, thankfully, they don’t have to be in a rush to throw money around, as the much talked about salary floor – requiring teams to spend at least 89 percent of the salary cap in cash on an annual basis – doesn’t kick in until 2013.

This season and next the league as whole must spend 99 percent of the salary cap in cash, with the league paying the difference if the 99 percent figure isn’t reached.

So don’t expert Heckert to loosen the purse strings much more this year.

***

Finally, here’s a depressing article about how the NFL Network is slowly killing NFL Films.

Be warned, though, the layout of the article is one of the most painful ones we’ve seen in a long time. But it’s worth the effort.

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

More Pondering on Preseason Predictions

As we near the start of the 2010 NFL season, the national media is starting to roll out predictions, with two of the biggest, Sports Illustrated and ESPN, predictably picking the Browns to finish last again in the AFC North.

It’s probably not an unreasonable prediction, and it’s certainly a safe one as the Browns have pretty much owned the division’s basement since returning in 1999. Plus, Las Vegas has put the over/under on Browns wins at 5.5 this season, which is just enticing enough that you could talk yourself into going either way on that one.

Sports Illustrated takes a pretty straight-forward approach with the Browns, highlighting the offensive line as the team’s strength:

It probably takes all of one finger to count the positions on the Cleveland depth chart that inspire true envy around the league: That would be offensive line. After years of floundering around in free agency and in the draft, wasting dollars and picks, the Browns have built a pretty good wall up front on offense, which is led by All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. Entering his fourth NFL season, Thomas is close to becoming the standard by which offensive left tackles are measured these days.

But the Browns also have a talented young center in Alex Mack and a valuable veteran left guard in Eric Steinbach, putting them light years ahead of some of the lines Cleveland has run out there since returning to the league in 1999. While the Browns quarterbacking was truly horrendous last season, the team’s rushing game really kicked into high gear in the season’s final month, running for 900 yards during the course of Cleveland’s season-ending four-game winning streak. Running back Jerome Harrison’s heroics notwithstanding, the Browns offensive line paved the way for that eye-popping production.

It’s nice that SI at least acknowledges the improvement in the passing game:

(Jake) Delhomme has looked sharp this preseason, but it’s hard to forget he did throw 18 interceptions in his 11 games in Carolina last season, and that’s one more than (Brady) Quinn and (Derek) Anderson combined for all year. Mere competency will go a long way in Cleveland, and if Delhomme can afford to rely upon the Browns strong running game and not put his defense into a hole, progress will inevitably be made through the air.

SI takes the bait and predicts a 6-10 finish for the Browns.

ESPN has pretty much the same conclusion, but they brought up one important point:

Cleveland was the only AFC North team all three entities agreed on. From everything I’ve seen, the Browns are too short on talent to be a contender. I think the Browns are scrappy and have potential to play smart football, especially if Jake Delhomme has a bounce-back season at quarterback. But I’d be surprised if Cleveland wins more than a game or two in the AFC North this season. If you can’t win in the division, you probably won’t have a successful season.

The Bengals proved last year that you can be a mediocre team (4-6 outside the division) and still make the playoffs if you can play well inside your division (6-0 last year).

Playing within the division has absolutely killed the Browns over the years. Since 2002, the team is 13-35 vs. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati, and has never been better than 3-3 in the division.

Until the Browns can reverse that trend, it’s going to be hard to see them accomplishing much on the field, no matter how much they seem to be improved.

Running on Empty?

You have to run the ball to win in the NFL, yes?

Well, maybe not, according to Tuesday Morning Quarterback’s AFC preview column on ESPN.com. According to the column:

“The National Football League is all about running the ball, right? That’s what you hear. Yet for two consecutive seasons, the last-ranked rushing team made the Super Bowl — Arizona in 2008 and Indianapolis in 2009 reached the ultimate game despite having the league’s worst rushing offense those seasons. True, both lost, but 30 of the 32 NFL franchises gladly would have traded places with the team that lost the Super Bowl. And last season, the AFC’s two best teams, winning the first-round byes — San Diego and Indianapolis — were 31st and 32nd overall, respectively, in rushing.

“Thus you don’t have to run the ball well to win at football. … In 2008, only seven NFL teams rushed more often than they passed. In 2009, the number fell to just four — Carolina, Cincinnati, Jersey/B and Tennessee. Maybe this is because, as the Football Outsiders website long has contended, establishing the pass has more tactical value (because of more yards gained per attempt) than establishing the run.

First off, we have to point out that last year the Browns ran the ball 498 times and passed it 443. So it was actually more than four teams in 2009.

Plus, in the Browns season-ending four game win streak, they ran the ball 181 times compared to just 65 pass attempts. That late-season surge helped the team finish eighth in the NFL in rushing – and only 19 yards behind Super Bowl champion New Orleans.

So while running the ball may not be a guaranteed path to victory, it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with a solid ground attack. It seems likely that the positives of a top-notch running game – keeps the ball away from the other team, limits the possibility for mistakes by the QB, helps immensely in cold/bad weather – outweigh any perceived negatives.

But having NFL-caliber play at the quarterback position certainly can’t hurt. Mike Holmgren has gone on record as saying the Browns can’t consistenly win the way they did at the end of last season. Which is why the team worked hard in the off-season to fix last year’s mess – Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn – and upgrade to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.

TMQ’s preview column missed the point on those moves as well, writing:

“What is it that new Browns president Mike Holmgren saw on tape of Jake Delhomme that no one else sees? Holmgren traded away Brady Quinn, passed on Tim Tebow and Jimmy Clausen in the draft, and handed the Cleveland starting quarterback’s job — plus $7 million guaranteed in 2010 — to Delhomme, who has thrown 35 interceptions over the past two seasons. Carolina immediately got better when Delhomme was benched in 2009. And the $7 million guarantee, it’s nice that Holmgren is generous, but he wasn’t bidding against anyone: Delhomme might have signed for the veteran minimum.

“Cleveland has been the trade capital of the NFL in recent seasons. Eric Mangini conducted a series of trades with his old team, the Jets, netting Cleveland several decent players but surrendering Mark Sanchez, who would look mighty good in Tootsie Rolls colors along about now. Holmgren has continued the yard-sale ethos. The net is that Cleveland has surrendered two recent first-round choices (Quinn and defensive end Kamerion Wimbley), plus fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round draft choices, for Sheldon Brown, Peyton Hillis, Chris Gocong, Seneca Wallace, third- and sixth-round choices and a conditional pick from Denver in 2012. That’s an awful lot of roster turbulence.”

Yes, by all means, let’s not have any “roster turbulence” on a team that has only won more than six games once in the past seven years.

TMQ does make a valid point about the Browns possibly overpaying for Delhomme, but it’s really not that bad. Plus, Quinn hasn’t really shown much in Denver so far in the preseason, so lamenting his loss is a bit much.

Since 2002, the Browns have only run the ball more than they’ve passed in two seasons – last year and 2004 – and we haven’t been swamped with any victory parades through downtown.

Maybe bucking the trend and going with an old school philosophy is the way to go for what could be an up-and-coming team this season.

The Changing of Sports Entertainment

LeBron James’ recent party at Tao in Las Vegas has taken on epic proportions, not just because of the nude women in the bathtub, but because ESPN originally posted an article about the party and then took it down off its website.

The full article was captured in a screen grab and posted on Deadspin, The site also posted ESPN’s explanation for pulling the article:

“The story should have never been published,” an ESPN source told Deadspin. “The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter.”

Now comes word, via Waiting For Next Year, that Sportscenter was going to discuss the LeBron in Vegas story but, during a commercial break, something happened and suddenly the anchors were no longer interested.

It’s not surprising that a higher-up at ESPN would spike an article or a TV report that portrayed an athlete they are developing a relationship with in a negative light. It wouldn’t be the first time.

ESPN wants to promote itself as the worldwide leader in sports, the place sports fans go to for all their sports news and entertainment. But day by day, ESPN is moving farther away from being able to present itself as a news organization.

Now, if you tune in and there isn’t a game on, you find yourself being yelled at by know-it-all personalities, have to deal with studio hosts bleating non-sensical phrases over and over again (boo yah!), or an over-abundance of promotional spots (Budweiser Hot Seat, etc.)

The network still does some things right – most notably the on-going 30 for 30 film series, which is phenomenal – but more often than not they are trying to be both a sports network and an entertainment network.

And by trying to be both at once, the network ends up not doing either one very well.

Pondering Preseason Prognostications

With training camp just around the corner, the media is starting to compile its list of preseason “favorites,” working on “power rankings” and telling us what will happen this year in the National Football League.

All without the benefit of a single practice, preseason game or training camp injury.

OK, that’s a little harsh. Just like all of us they have space that needs to be filled, and since I’m actually reading what they are writing, I’m part of the problem, not the solution.

However.

Every year it seems as if 31 teams have a chance, have made progress in the off-season, picked up some significant players and are looking at a solid year. One team – Cleveland – is perpetually cited as the one and only team in the league that is absolutely void of all hope.

Consider ESPN’s power rankings, which put the Browns 28, which is somehow three spots lower than where they finished last year, saying “The first year of the Mike Holmgren era could be rough. This team lacks talent across the board.”

No one is realistically expecting the Browns to post an 11-5 record this year, not after what’s gone on here the past few years. But to actually drop?

The best one is SI’s Peter King, who in his Monday Morning Quarterback column writes that there are 28 teams that could make the playoffs, with the Browns, of course, one of the four that have no chance.

Somehow Detroit and Kansas City, in King’s eyes, have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs, but not Cleveland.

Let’s think about this a minute: the Lions were 2-14 last season, 26th in offense and 32nd in defense, but they can make the playoffs this year. Of course, one of their wins was against the Browns, but that was due more to coaching incompetence than the Lions having better talent.

Whatever you say Peter.

I know it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s still frustrating. The Browns can’t get this turned around over night, but with the addition of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert to run the front office, another year in the system of Eric Mangini and Rob Ryan, and a powerhouse running attack (8th in the NFL last year!) to keep the heat off Jake Delhomme and the defense off the field, things are slowly moving in the right direction.

And no matter what happens, just by simply not having Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn around makes the team better.

I’m just glad things are about to start for real.

***

More good news from Brownstown, as Montario Hardesty and TJ Ward have both reportedly agreed to contracts to they will be in camp when the veterans report this weekend.

Now the team just needs to work out a deal with Joe Haden and they will be set.

Sept. 12 can’t get here soon enough.

Why Do We Watch?

In today’s The Way We Live Now column of The New York Times Magazine, author Walter Kirn asks why people are more interested in the backstory and behind-the-scenes machinations rather than in the actual movie or sport they are watching.

Kirn calls this fascination “procedural voyeurism,” which he describes as:

“a redirection of mass attention from the spectacle of the game itself to the circus of the game behind the game, as when LeBron James … commandeered the TV sets of upteen thousands of sports bars, not to mention the better part of the Web’s bandwidth, to tell us … that he was moving from Cleveland to Miami … “

Yep, he made this about LeBron; and you were wondering how this would tie into Cleveland sports.

It’s an interesting question; one certainly worth pondering. There was enough palace intrigue breathlessly reported in the weeks leading up to LeBron leaving Cleveland: all the “sources” who knew what he was going to do, the work of Wes Wesley behind the scenes to deliver LeBron and John Calipari as a package deal, Maverick Carter going to a basketball game with David Geffen. At times it felt like it would never stop.

But that’s not why I watched: I watched because LeBron’s decision had an impact on me as a Cavs fan. But if it was Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant or any other NBA player making an announcement, would I have tuned in? Not really. I would have just checked the Internet or the ESPN crawl after I knew the announcement had been made, but I would have no reason to watch it live.

It could be that we’re not really interested in the backstage shenanigans, but rather we absorb them because that’s what the endless media news cycle pushes down our throats. Think of how many hours ESPN devoted during the hours leading up to LeBron’s announcement. People watched because it was just … there. Watching TV is a passive activity, I think ESPN was counting on the fact that if they said it was a big deal, then people would believe it was a big deal.

On one level it worked, as LeBron’s decision gave the network its second-highest ranking of the year, but it left ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer questioning the network:

“Some found ESPN guilty of violating a key ethical journalistic tenet — paying for news. Others disdained the network’s perceived pandering to a superstar, a trait causing them to ponder the network’s biases. Still others decried a simple announcement being manufactured into the suspense of a “second coming.” The monstrous hype that led up to the special was a calculated and constructed spotlight that media far beyond ESPN helped feed. To many, the aggregate was an affront to humility, loyalty, moderation … and instead became a celebration of greed, ego and excess.”

And the media who criticized it actually helped feed the spectacle, as Kirn wrote:

“Not long after James appeared on television … media critics and sports writers weighed in to debate the business ethics of the broadcast itself. One observer wondered whether the show would usher in a crass new age of unpaid advertisements for brand-name athletes whose egos have grown larger than the leagues they play in. He needn’t have wondered this, though. He knew the answer. Of course it was a sign of worse to come and partly because he helped define that worse thing by publicly criticizing it.”

Kirn concludes by saying that, by being invested in the behind-the-scenes work, viewers feel a sense of control, as if by watching we can influence the outcome:

“procedural voyeurism grants us an illusion of control over realities that we secretly fear we have no power over… (and) symbolic participation in games-within-games that are way above our heads and occur within heavily guarded inner circles that we can peek into but never truly penetrate.”

As Cavs fans, we knew we had no control over what LeBron did, whether we watched his decision or not. And the fear was not one of a loss of power, but the fear of life without the two-time MVP on our side.

The last few months have left me seriously burnt out. I watch sports because they are entertaining. I follow the business side because I find it interesting and, with so many player decisions made solely on the basis of money (see, Indians, Cleveland) you must have a working knowledge of that side as a fan.

But the rest of it leaves me cold. And the next time I hear an anchor or reporter start off with “sources say” I’m more than likely to tune them out.

Because that’s not why I watch.

I Heard it through the Grapevine

People say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear – Marvin Gaye

Those words are true when applied to all the hot air that has been spewed over the past few weeks concerning LeBron James and free agency. The latest in a long line of nonsense comes from Chris Broussard at ESPN:

“A modified version of the ballyhooed free-agent summit that was initially suggested and then downplayed by Dwyane Wade has indeed taken place, ESPN.com has learned.

“Sources close to the situation said Monday night that three of the biggest names in basketvball – Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James – met over the weekend in Miami to seriously discuss their futures, with a focus on the increasingly plausible possibility of those three teaming up with Wade’s Heat.”

Ooh, I bet you’re wondering how I knew about your plans to make me blue.

Wow, a plausible possibility. Pretty strong stuff. Of course, who could this mystery source be? The barber at the corner shop? The waiter who delivered room service to the summit? We don’t know.

But, we do know who the source is not: Chicago-based agent Henry Thomas, who represents both Wade and Bosh.

“Dwyane was here in Chicago over the weekend and did not meet with LeBron and Chris in Miami,” Thomas said in published reports. “Have these guys talked about their futures with one another? Absolutely, and I am sure they will talk again. However, this report of a summit over the weekend in Miami involving Dwyane is untrue. He was here in Chicago with his kids and when he left town on Sunday, he was not headed back to Miami.”

So the big free-agent summit that the mainstream media wants to occur so badly, like LeBron’s “Summer of Me Tour,” is all a myth.

ESPN also reported that unless Miami trades away former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley to a team with salary-cap space, so it can avoid taking salary back, the Heat can’t offer the estimated 2010-11 maximum salary of $16.5 million to all three Team USA stars.

Broussard, of course, doesn’t want to let the facts get in the way of his story. He went on air today to explain that, to make the deal work, one of three will have to take less money to sign with the Heat, especially since Wade has gone on the record as saying he won’t take a penny less than the max. He concluded that LeBron will take less money since he makes more in endorsements than Bosh and Wade combined.

I can’t help bein’ confused, if it’s true please tell me dear

Let’s think about that for a moment: no top-flight free agent has switched teams since Shaq left Orlando for Los Angeles. No free agent has ever left money on the table.

But somehow, LeBron, the two-time MVP and the most sought-after, talked-about free agent in sports history will be willing to do both so he can go play with Bosh and Wade?

Why isn’t it just as plausible that James and Bosh have agreed to work out a deal for Bosh to join James in Cleveland? Because the mainstream media, led by Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN, doesn’t want LeBron in Cleveland and shudder at the thought of all their predictions and “confirmations” of James leaving town turning out to be false.

Here are a few more thoughts on the subject, from Cleveland Frowns and Waiting For Next Year.

Only 27 hours to go until the start of free agency.

Did Someone Really Say That?

In theory, anonymous sources are a last resort. Reporters are challenged to get people to speak on the record, but sometimes that’s just not possible. If the source remains unnamed, it must be a trade-off for candor and quality of information. Of course, there are times when information a source ardently believes to be true … turns out to be false. That’s why independent corroboration by a reporter is key. Bad sourcing or lax oversight can result in the equivalent of a journalistic drive-by shooting, aided and abetted by information cloaked in a shroud of anonymity.

This comes from Don Ohlmeyer, the ombudsman at ESPN, in his latest column about the use of anonymous sources. So using an anonymous source is a “last resort?” So we’re led to believe that ESPN exhausted all avenues with their recent reporting on LeBron James, yes? Let’s take a quick look:

This is from a May 21 article on ESPN.com:

  • Before Cuban’s entry, the most prevalent rumor had William Wesley, better known as “Worldwide Wes,” offering James and Calipari as a package deal to teams around the league. A person close to Wesley, who is a friend and advisor to James, denied the reports to ESPN’s Andy Katz earlier this week.

A person close to Wesley? His mom? His barber? Who? Seems like something the reader would want to know.

The following are all from the same ESPN story on May 18 by Andy Katz:

  • A source with direct knowledge of the Chicago Bulls front office’s plans says the team believes it has the right players in place — namely, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng — to surround LeBron James when it makes its case with the free agent-to-be on July 1. But the source said there has been no discussion of bringing Kentucky coach John Calipari in with James as part of a package deal.

  • Another league source told the Chicago Tribune that another person, described as an “unknown Calipari connection,” contacted the Bulls over the weekend.
  • However, ESPN The Magazine‘s Chris Broussard reported Monday on “SportsCenter” that according to his sources, James is not demanding Calipari coach him on whichever team he plays for next season.
  • And a source close to Wesley told ESPN.com that Wesley had not contacted the Bulls or any other team about a James/Calipari package deal.
  • A source with knowledge of the Los Angeles Clippers’ thinking denied there had been any contact with Wesley or any other inquiries about Calipari. The source called the report linking Wesley to the Clippers “inaccurate.”
  • Another Western Conference front-office executive questioned the validity of the story, telling ESPNLosAngeles.com via text message, “Nobody’s buying that.”
  • But a source close to Wesley said it was “insulting” to assume that Calipari could get an NBA coaching job only with James’ help.
  • Multiple sources close to Calipari have also recently said it would take at least $5 million a year to bring him back to the NBA.
  • The Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill., reported Sunday that according to league sources, James has contacted Rose to express interest in playing with him.
  • But the source close to Wesley said James has not made a decision and that leaving Ohio won’t be easy.

Wow, not a single piece of “news” is actually attributed to anyone in the article. But Andy did find someone to go on the record: Josh Cribbs of the Browns, who said Cleveland “wouldn’t be the same” without James.

That’s some mighty fine reporting.

Chad Ford has this game on May 13:

  • Within minutes of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ elimination at the hands of the Celtics, the speculation about LeBron James’ next destination resumed in full force. In the space of five minutes I heard from three NBA GMs via text, e-mail and phone. All three said that based on the information they have, they believe LeBron will leave the Cavs.

Three GMs, huh? Of course, Chad conveniently didn’t provide any names so we’re left to wonder if these GMs are real or not.

And let’s not forget the infamous free agent “summit” that is coming up:

  • A source told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that the Toronto Raptor’s Chris Bosh also will join Wade, James and Johnson when they discuss free agency.

It just goes on, and on and on.

Anonymous sources have a role in journalism, for example when dealing with government officials making decisions that impact millions of people.

But passing on rumors about athletes without proper attribution just comes off as lazy and ridiculous.

Just another sunny day in the Summer of LeBron.

The Right Move

Eleven years ago the Browns had an opportunity to draft Donovan McNabb. They passed, selecting Tim Couch instead which turned out to be the wrong move. I know, I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know.

With McNabb being traded over the weekend to Washington for a second-round pick and either a third- or a fourth-round pick, we’re left to wonder if the Browns had made a move would they have landed the QB that could have been the face of the franchise for the past decade? They could have easily matched Washington’s offer and the allure of sending McNabb out of the division may have sealed the deal for the Eagles. But if they were in talks for a McNabb trade, not pulling the trigger was the right call, just as much as not drafting him was the wrong one.

While McNabb certainly would be an improvement over Jake Delhomme for the next few years, he still would not be the long-term solution to the QB position. By holding on to their remaining picks – they have five in the top 100 (spots 7, 38, 71, 85 & 92) the Browns can fill a hole either in the secondary or offensive line with the first pick and then still make a move in the second round (or trade up to the late first round) to grab the potential QB of the future.

We may never know if the Browns were tempted, but in the end the Holmgren/Heckert brain trust made the right call.

In other news, nice work at Cleveland Frowns on ESPN New York’s love affair with LeBron.

And Waiting for Next Year checks in with an additional take on what the McNabb trade could mean for the Browns draft plans.

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