From True/Slant on November 17, 2009:
Browns Fans Checking for a Pulse.
Has a professional football team ever performed worse than the Cleveland Browns did against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football?
For as dull as the game was, it was likewise strangely compelling. I couldn’t turn away, completely fascinated by the Browns’ ineptitude. It was like watching the living dead play football and I had to think that George Romero would be a more appropriate coach than Eric Mangini.
Certainly, other teams have had more turnovers or more grossly mismanaged the clock, been flagged for more penalties or had heinous special teams shanks and misfires, but not one team has ever been the festival of ineptitude witnessed by the Monday Night audience. Hello, Cleveland!
If dirt or grass were eligible receivers, Brady Quinn would be a Hall of Fame bound quarterback.
If wide outs were paid to run apathetic routes with their hands in their pants, the Browns would be all world in the receiving department.
If coaches were judged on their ability to mismanage personnel and devise tepid, timid gameplans, the Mangini braintrust would be in a class of their own. Heck, Rob Ryan and Eric Mangini couldn’t even get 11 guys on the field to defend against what turned out to be Baltimore’s only offensive touchdown of the night. Christ, send Derek Anderson out there. He’s not busy.
Flat out, these Cleveland Browns are positively inert, which accounts for the primetime appearance of the Grumpy Browns Face ™ on the shores of Lake Erie. Though they share some things in common, like an abject, utter despair, the Grumpy Browns Face ™ is distinctly, decidedly different from the Sad Buffalo Face, despite the proximity of the cities and the heart-breaking history of each respective franchise. A quick stroll through the valley of pain, Cleveland Browns style:
Red Right 88.
The Chris Palmer era. Five and Twenty-Seven, baby!
Super Bowl XXXV.
And general post-expansion malaise.
That’s without even getting into Art Modell high-tailing it to Charm City with the beloved franchise, so it goes without saying that Browns fans have plenty to be grumpy about.
Unlike the Sad Buffalo Face, the Grumpy Browns Face is specific to the Browns franchise and not the entire city of Cleveland. (In fact, Cavs fans look more anxious and Indians fans just look drunk.)
But Browns fans wear generations of frustration and heart-break right on their kissers. The Grumpy Browns Face is the physiognomical correlative of a lover scorned and jilted. More than that, even: it is the kind of unique, searing pain experienced by a woman (or man) who is repeatedly tossed aside, left at the altar, stood up, and cheated on. This is the expression of a person who regularly wonders what he or she did in a former life to deserve such pain and torment in this one. It is most definitely the look of a person intimately familiar with betrayal.
It’s the face of Job tweaking on crystal meth and drunk on Nattie Light.
Since the Browns came back into existence after aforementioned Modell hijacking (speaking of betrayal), the Browns have played precisely one playoff game. ONE. Which they lost. Meanwhile, the hated division rival Steelers have won two Super Bowls, and the even more loathed Ravens won one. Even Bengals fans are hopeful.
In 2003, the Bengals drafted Carson Palmer. A year later, the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger. In 2008, the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco. Legitiimate, NFL Franchise QB’s, each one of them. Roethlisberger has two rings already. Palmer and Flacco are each certainly capable of leading his team to the promised land, assuming all the other myriad factors fall into place.
Since that Palmer draft, the Browns have drafted Luke McCown, Charlie Frye, and Brady Quinn, and started a veritable murderer’s row at QB: Kelly Holcomb (9-15 record), Jeff Garcia (76.7 QB rating – the second worst of his career), Trent Dilfer (11 TD’s, 12 INT’s and 7 lost fumbles), former Zip Charlie Frye (2007 QB rating of 10; and I thought QB ratings were like the SAT’s where guys got 20 points or so for just lacing their cleats), Derek Anderson (with a QB rating of 35.5 for 2009 ) and Brady Quinn, who seems congenitally unable to throw the ball further than six yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Currently, the Browns offense ranks dead last in points scored and are minus 17 in the turnover department, also good for dead last in the NFL. If you were a Browns fan, you’d be P.O.’ed, too. The Grumpy Browns Face was on full display on Monday night for all the world to see. It wasn’t pretty.
Careful, Browns fans, if you do that long enough, your faces may just stick like that.