Lost somewhat in all the hoo-haa about who won’t be there, was the announcement that the Browns are finally establishing a Ring of Honor at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The initial class will be made up of the team’s 16 Hall of Famers. Going forward it gets trickier to try and guess who will be eligible or worthy enough to have their names added to the ring.
“I think, going forward, we are going to work on that, team President Mike Holmgren said in published reports. “We haven’t decided yet quite honestly. I know with our Legends program we have a group. My feeling is that if you go into the Ring of Honor for a particular team, there are a lot of great players that have played here first of all. Not every great player gets to be in the Ring of Honor, that should be something very, very, very special. When we do decide criteria or put a group together to decide who should be considered for that, we are not going to rush in to it. We are going to kind of nail that down and as soon as we figure it out, we will let you know.”
The fact that the team is not going to rush into anything is a good sign. One of the problems when they created the Legends Club was trying to include a player from every decade in each year’s class. That’s not the best way to go about something like this, especially with some of the bad teams the Browns have had over the past 40 years. Looking at that list you can see why trying to be all-inclusive isn’t really feasible.
Not having this be an annual event, where you have to honor someone, works to make this truly a way to honor former players.
Having said that, who might the team look to honor in the years ahead?
It’s really a tough call, starting with the non-Hall of Famers in the Legends Club.
Clay Matthews should be a lock. He played in more games (232) than any other player in team history, his 16 seasons in Cleveland are second on the club’s longevity list and he holds the team record for quarterback sacks with 76.5. We’ve even forgiven him for that lateral against Houston.
After Matthews, it’s just gets harder. Fans will certainly want Bernie Kosar, but if you put him in you have to put Brian Sipe in as well. Sipe holds the Browns career passing marks for yards (23,713), touchdowns (154), attempts (3,439) and completions (1,944).
Sipe and Kosar were both good quarterbacks, but are they in Otto Graham’s class? Can the team really include them? Can you honor one and not the other?
Taking a look at the current team, it’s safe to say if his career continues the way it has so far, Joe Thomas will certainly be a ring member. But what about Josh Cribbs? Just like Kosar and Sipe, if Cribbs is found worthy then you’d have to seriously consider Eric Metcalf.
Browns officials have going to have a tough job with this, but that’s probably OK. You want this to be an extremely special, exclusive group.
Probably the only certainty is that, after the initial group is inducted this year, it may be a long time until the team has to host another ceremony.