Jul 30, 2015; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine and owner Jimmy Haslam during training camp at the Cleveland Browns practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns are stuck in what feels like a perpetual rebuild. We’ve seen the team under the leadership of three different owners, seven different General Managers, and eight different coaches including interim head coach Terry Robiskie. Yet the results are the same. How many more losing seasons can Browns fans take? When will we see a team built to succeed?
A few years ago, I finally got around to reading the book False Start, by Cleveland Plain Dealer Sports columnist Terry Pluto. In the book, Pluto highlights and details the many errors made by the NFL, former owner Al Lerner, and team president Carman Policy that led the Browns unspectacular return to the NFL in 1999. It was sad to read how the NFL and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue pushed the Browns organization towards its return with reckless abandon.
They didn’t give Lerner and Policy a lot of time to build a proper front-office staff, then in turn, that front office didn’t get a lot of time to assemble a proper group of scouts, and head coaches.
By the time the Browns were allowed to start operations, they were behind the eight-ball. Teams had already re-signed their free-agents, hired general managers, brought in Head Coaches, and scouted their college prospects. The NFL didn’t give the Browns much of a chance to succeed.
Lerner and Policy plead with the NFL to push the team’s return back a season, but the NFL refused. They pushed the Browns to return in 1999, and as Pluto subtitled his book, the new Browns were “Built to Fail.”
Flash forward to the 2015 and the Cleveland Browns have been losers in all but two of their 17 seasons since being re-born in 1999. The excuse of the franchise’s forced return should be a moot point. There’s been enough time for the organization to build a solid scouting department, a solid front office, hire a stellar coaching staff, and build a roster of players that can compete on any given Sunday.
However, in 2015, and 16 seasons later that’s not the case. Some can argue, and I’m going to, that the Cleveland Browns are in no better position 16 years later than they were when they first returned to the field in 1999.
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