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Another abysmal season in Cleveland

Browns have been full of empty promises since 1999

December 31, 2012
B.J. LISKO - Salem News Sports Editor ( , Salem News

If in 1999 you would've told Browns fans their team would average five wins a year over the next 14 seasons they might have thought twice about having them come back.

One playoff appearance. Five head coaches. 19 different starting quarterbacks.

This season the futility continued. Former team president Mike Holmgren brought with him an attitude of change two seasons ago. The only thing that changed were the faces. The team was still inept - a phantom of what a true Super Bowl contender actually is, and we were reminded of it every time the Browns played guys named Manning, Brady and Ben.

The Browns drafted a 29-year-old rookie quarterback who never quite settled in at any point, partly because of his "youth" as a starter, but even more so that the team has failed to have a standout wide receiver arguably since coming back into the league.

Cleveland has gone 72-147 since 1999.

Every so often the club would "play hard" or be a "tough opponent," but rarely did it ever translate to wins.

This isn't Pop Warner, it's is the NFL. Win. That's all that matters.

Their only playoff appearance and loss in the last 14 years came in 2002, and ranks among the most frustrating and aggravating losses Browns fans ever witnessed. You may remember a one Kelly Holcomb at quarterback becoming only the third QB in the history of the league to throw from more than 400 yards in a 36-33 loss in Pittsburgh. I won't recall the entire game here, because I'd have to step away from the computer.

Now that the Pat Shurmur era is over, we'll likely get all the same promises from new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner we've had so many times before.

"It's our job to bring stability," Haslam said. "Our goal is to find the right person."

Good luck with that.

Cleveland is where aging journeyman quarterbacks and promising new coaches go to die.

The team's MVP remains its kicker Phil Dawson, who thankfully was finally vindicated with a Pro Bowl selection this season - a lone bright spot on another stained year.

Trying to erase the stigma of generations worth of failure is next to impossible. The Browns will always be at a disadvantage in luring free agents because of their history.

And garnering top prospects through the draft has been a joke. I dare anyone to find a team that has drafted worse than the Browns since 1999.

Remember Courtney Brown, Tim Couch, William Green, Kellen Winslow II, Braylon Edwards, Jeff Faine or Cameron Wimbley? If you do it's for drug related offenses, ridiculous rants to the press, crying in the locker room or dropping passes. Failing that they didn't do anything memorable on the field, or if they did it got lost in losing seasons.

There's no more optimistic with the Browns. Not even cautiously.

At this point, it's show us what you can do. We're not hoping anymore.

This isn't "Shawshank Redemption" where as Andy Dufresne said "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things," after escaping the prison.

No, in Cleveland, Red got it right.

"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside."

Stuck in the prison that's Cleveland football, that sounds about right.

Happy New Year Browns fans. Next year has arrived already. Here we go again.



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