The NFL has built itself into the country’s No. 1 sport based, in part, on the believe that every team has a chance.
Free agency coupled with a real salary cap, and an equitable common draft, means that teams can’t simply outspend each other the way they do in Major League Baseball. It is a system where if you work harder and smarter than the other guy, and get a little bit of luck, you should find success.
The Cleveland Browns have not been able to check off any of those boxes on a regular basis since their return to the league in 1999. In a league built on the idea of parity, the Browns have consistently found a way to mess things up.
The team’s fortunes began to chance in 2016 with the launch of an actual strategic rebuilding strategy, gained momentum in the second half of last season, and went into over-drive this offseason under general manager John Dorsey.
The Browns are now exciting, relevant and set up to be a winning franchise for several years. It is safe to assume that the league is happy about this, as having a winning team with a rabid fanbase like the Browns is good for business.
Strangely enough, not everyone appears to be on board with what the Browns are building.
It is understandable that fans in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati would be apprehensive about Cleveland’s rise, as the idea of the Browns owning the division for the next decade is not appealing to them.
But what is a bit puzzling is the growing trend in the darker corners of the national media against the Browns.
Yesterday the Cleveland Browns staged the craziest "welcome Odell" press conference I've ever witnessed. We debate. @undisputed. 9:30 AM ET. FS1.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 2, 2019
Bayless did not like what he saw from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. during Monday’s press conference and explained why on his Fox Sports 1 show Undisputed, according to cleveland.com:
“I think [Beckham] thinks it’s all surreal. I don’t think it’s really hit him that he’s in Cleveland, Ohio. It won’t hit him until really September, when he walks on that field. He’s not in New York anymore.”
Whitlock: Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are the football version of Quincy and Monica from ‘Love and Basketball.’ The 2019 Browns are 'Love and Football.' It looks like a love story, but by the end of the year it'll be a dysfunctional reality TV show. @WhitlockJason pic.twitter.com/hEnurLSdLG— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) April 2, 2019
Jason Whitlock piled on in his aptly named Speak for Yourself show, according to cleveland.com:
“The only problem with all of this is football isn’t a movie,” Whitlock continued. “A happy ending isn’t guaranteed. The Browns do have a first time head coach, an undersized quarterback with a boulder on his shoulder, two number-one receivers who both want the ball all the time. Things could get ugly quick in Cleveland.”
"Nobody will be honest about this Cleveland thing. It has a chance to be a complete and utter dumpster fire... Odell didn't want to go here, the owner is a control freak, John Dorsey is a control freak, Freddie Kitchens could be over his head..." — @ColinCowherd pic.twitter.com/Igr7uuhrYn— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) April 5, 2019
Finally, Colin Cowherd went all in on his The Herd with Colin Cowherd show on Friday, according to ohio.com:
“Odell didn’t want to go here. Odell’s not happy. The owner [Jimmy Haslam] is a control freak. [General Manager] John Dorsey is a control freak. [Coach] Freddie Kitchens could be over his head. I’m not even mentioning Baker, who’s a kid. He’s just a baby.”
Baker Mayfield, a frequent target of Cowherd’s, took a moment to answer back on Twitter:
Come to Cleveland and ask O if he actually likes it. Just because you say you have a source doesn’t mean you’re not full of BS.— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) April 5, 2019
And while you’re at it... come see if I’m a baby... #10ToesDown
At the end of the day, none of the outside noise really matters, or if Bayless, Whitlock and Cowherd really believe what they are saying or are just latching onto the Browns in an attempt go get people to notice them.
Because as head coach Freddie Kitchens accurately put it at his introductory press conference in January:
“If you don’t wear brown and orange, you don’t matter.”