Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A little of this and a little of that

This is one of those columns formed out of having too many things to talk about and having nothing really worth saying.

I am horrible at picking brackets for the NCAA. I always cheer for the underdog and I pick with my heart instead of my head. Which is why a few years ago I had Kent State in the Elite Eight when no one else did. But since I always have Duke losing early and four or five Cindrellas in the Sweet Sixteen, my bracket is always a mess.

I have religiously dropped whatever I was doing on the first Thursday of the tournament for as long as I can remember. I skipped class when I was in school and when I was teaching I turned a television on in class. But this year, I have to drive to Canton to cover Rocky River. I am not complaining, but there will be no adult beverages this year during the early games.

I understand why last week, the Cavaliers mobbed Damon Jones after his game winning three-pointer against the Raptors. But something disturbed me about that clip as it was shown over and over and over again. I don't know if I want my head coach flailing around like madman on the outside of the pile-up. I mean, uh coach- we just beat Toronto at the buzzer. I like enthusiasm as much as anyone, but as the head man save it for the locker room, go shake the other coach's hand and act like it was exactly the play you drew up. You may point to Jim Valvano or Doug Collins as two high profile coaches who wigged out after a win. But Jimmy V just won a National Championship on a wing and prayer and lets just say Collins was long gone before the Bulls won an NBA title. I have no access to Mike Brown or the inner workings of the Cavaliers, but the coach of LeBron James can't be just one of the guys. Can you imagine Eric Wedge bouncing off his players at home plate if Casey Blake hit a walk-off against Tampa Bay?

I know it is just spring training and I can't watch any of the games yet, but I am liking seeing the Indians have more runs then the other team just about every day. Sure it means nothing, but having more runs than the Yankees at any time of the year just makes me smile.

Since it happened on a Saturday and a Sunday, the Browns's free agent signings were sort of muted. And while you can't judge off-season signings until the season (See Damon Jones and Doynell Marshall) but O MY GOODNESS.

What Phil Savage did was so good in so many ways. First what was been the complaint number about the Browns since 1999. The offensive line. Savage obtained two quality veteran guards last off-season. This year he went out and got a two-time Pro Bowler and a starting left tackle. He also added a veteran wide receiver with Super Bowl experience, a punter who doesn't have a serious case of the shanks and the big huge defensive tackle to plug up the middle that his defense was missing.

And the best part is at the same time, he infused the locker room and the organization with a sense of Cleveland Browns history.

Signing local guys just because they are local would make no sense. But Savage went out and picked up exactly what his team needed on the field and as a bonus-- found three guys who can share with their teammates what this town feels.
LeCharles Bentley, Joe Jurevicius and Dave Zastudil all grew up Browns fans. They know we hate the Steelers and they know that is a special week. Growing up here, they have a true understanding of the fans passion. And that can only help.

" This is it," Cleveland native and St. Ignatius graduate Bentley said. "This is where it all started and hopefully where it's going to end. I can't explain how excited I am right now. It's a dream come true."

"I grew up a Cleveland Browns fan and it is really exciting for me to be able to play for the team I grew up watching and rooting for," Bay High graduate Zastudil said. "I can't wait to get to work and be able to do my part to help the team succeed."

"You know, I think of myself as a big, bad football player, but the first time I play on that field in Cleveland in a Browns uniform, I'm sure the tears are going to flow," Lake Catholic graduate Jurevicius said.

This is the perfect remedy to fix not just what is wrong on the field, but re-establish connection to the fans.

Let the healing begin.