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Thoughts and Jots: From white helmets to the XFL to Baker Mayfield

Things on the mind

Atlanta Falcons v Cleveland Browns
Clay Matthews
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

1 So the NFL decided that their member clubs could use a secondary color helmet beginning this year. In years past, only one color was approved but a team could decorate as they wished as long as the league gave approval. This meant mostly it was a throwback version indicative of a once-long ago uniform. But each time, the shell color was the same. The lone variant version was approval of a brown helmet to emulate a standard-issue leather helmet. The Packers were the ones which mainly utilized this look with their blue and yellow unies with a solid brown plastic helmet.

The Bengals use a standard orange helmet and could have chosen either black or white as their new hat design, and chose the latter. I don’t like it. White lid, white jersey, white pants, white socks – I don’t get it. Black on black would have been very cool similar to the Eagles black-out paired with the midnight green helmets. White is so mundane, and it appears that Cincy is dead set on a solid white ensemble.

The helmet design is new as well, but really they aren’t. Back when Paul Brown started the franchise in 1967 as an expansion team in the old American Football League, he had about a half dozen helmet designs one of which was an orange lid with horizontal black stripes. That design, is this new design. Exactly. The pic above was taken in 1967.

Their actual helmet design has random squiggly tiger stripes whereas the old-now-new is simply one stripe laid across the helmet from side-to-side and is basically lines that taper off at the ends.

The reason Coach Brown did not choose this design way back in 1967 was because he knew his new club was going to be horrible for a good number of years. He reasoned he didn’t think it was prudent to play bad and look like a circus act while doing it.

2 Le’Veon Bell is foregoing this NFL season so that he can, what? Be a boxer? It’s true. And when you hear him talk he appears all-in on this boxing thingy. Maybe no NFL offers came forward and he didn’t see the USFL or the XFL or the ASFL or MLFB as a viable option. I don’t know how he is going to do in the ring, but when he suited up for the Steelers he was a menace for the Browns. I remember when he played you could go ahead and fit him for a gold jacket, then the contract dispute surfaced and now he is more like a journeyman player than a superstar. And his first boxing match on July 30 in Las Vegas? Against Adrian Peterson. Weird - 10 Pro Bowls between the two. Isn’t Bell the same dude that two years ago pursued a rap career?

3 DBN’s Thomas Moore did a really nice article on the retirement of former Browns’ tackle Mitchell Schwartz. If you did a list of the Top-10 players the Browns wished they had kept, Schwartz’s name would be in the upper third. Super Bowl champion and four time Pro Bowler – all while playing for somebody else (Chiefs). Later he was named to the NFL All-Decade Team. 120 consecutive starts with 7,894 consecutive snaps. Wow. And the Browns let him go? Cleveland took him in the second round so he must have been high value for them.


Started all 16 games as a rookie replacing the aging Tony Pashos and made the NFL All-Rookie Team. In his first four seasons he started every friggin’ game and was listed as the sixth-best offensive tackle (for either side) in the league. After his four-year rookie deal was up, newly-installed GM Sashi Brown did not attempt to sign Schwartz and of course other clubs lined up in front of the Berea offices and down the street to sign him. The Chiefs inked him to a five-year $33 million deal which made him the highest-paid right tackle.

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

So he never missed a snap, named All-Rookie, playing a second round contract for second round money, top-notch pass blocker and named Second Team All-Pro plus was a bookend for Joe Thomas. The thing is, he was then replaced by Austin Pasztor then Shon Coleman then Chris Hubbard. Never understood the move then and certainly not now that he absolutely flourished as time went on. Thanks Sashi.

4 Brett Favre is indirectly involved in a welfare scam. Seems a pair of individuals are included in the largest public corruption case in the State of Mississippi where Favre resides and somehow seems to involve Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. The pair paid Favre $1.1 million for speaking engagements as part of $77 million misappropriated funds. Apparently the pair over-billed the State for Favre’s services to which they paid the former Packer great some of the invoiced amount and kept the remainder. Favre wanted no part of any investigation and has subsequently wrote a check for the $1.1 million and stated he never had any revelation that the funds was welfare department money. There just went all of his Copper Fit endorsement money.

5 Former Browns’ executive and current Minnesota GM Kwesi-Adofo-Mensah has a new bro. Seems Vikings linebacker Brian Asamoah is also of Ghanaian decent and the two have bonded well. Asamoah is a third round pick and when confronted with Adofo-Mensah asked the GM how he was doing in the language of Twi, which is predominant in Ghana. Each is a first-generation American whose parents left the West African nation. Now the pair have a bond and talk like they are family.

Asamoah stated on ESPN: “Every time I see him in the hall, we stop and talk for five minutes to see how life is going for each other. It’s different. When I say we are family, I really feel like it’s like someone in my family has been called into a higher staff, and I’m here to represent him, and obviously make the most of my opportunity.”

Nothing wrong with picking a new friend for the rook. At least he made sure it is the one who controls “The Turk” come cut-down day.

6 The Panthers have stated the quarterback competition is wide-ass open for training camp. Good for Baker. Even though veteran Sam Darnold is the incumbent and played last year in their system, the club is letting both players fight it out for the starting gig. My guess is that opening day it will be Darnold, but by Week 3 expect to see Mayfield in that role going forward. Pencil in Week 1 Browns vs. Panthers as the most talked about game heading up to opening week. Darnold and Baker are both on their final year deal as they were drafted in the same class. Neither has been offered an extension and most likely will play for their current final year pay. I read somewhere that Baker had made more commercials than had actual wins.

7 Did you see the list on ESPN on their Top-10 quarterbacks for this year? Weird to see Dak Prescott in that grouping, and more importantly Deshaun Watson who hasn’t played since when? January 12, 2020 in the Texans 51-31 loss to the Chiefs in the division playoffs. That is the game where Houston had a 24-0 lead on KC then suddenly was losing 28-24 on four Pat Mahomes TD passes in the second quarter.

The point is, Watson is an exceptional talent. We all know this. But he hasn’t played for 18 months and there is no idea where his skills are currently. He seems to be in shape and in football shape. But please, let’s not place him on a pedestal until he has won a game.

8 Major League Football debuts August 9 with four clubs in medium cities, one of which is Canton. The XFL is coming back in eight months. They currently are holding combines for prospective players. Their schedule will be early spring which means they won’t compete with the USFL’s time table who have already announced a second season for 2023. The XFL plans on eight teams including 2020 holdovers St. Louis, Seattle and Washington. The other clubs are to be announced later and the league may forego the larger NFL digs and the huge lease agreements for smaller stadiums such as MLS venues. Makes sense. 12,000 fans in a 78,000 stadium is an embarrassment for the league with their television viewers. They can always upgrade if the fan base increases.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches hired are Bob Stoops, Wade Phillips, Jim Haslett plus former players Terrell Buckley, Reggie Barlow, Anthony Becht and a pair of Steelers: Hines Ward and Rod Woodson. Former Browns DC Gregg Williams is the DC for Barlow’s San Antonio franchise.

The XFL has entered into an agreement with the NFL as a training ground for officials, assistant coaches, executives and trying out rules and variations in actual game situations such as kickoffs.

None of these leagues have offered me a job, but my phone has been acting up so.....

9 What are your thoughts on Lamar Jackson not being signed to a huge mega-deal yet? For one, why is he representing himself? These sports agents are lawyers. I know one thing: anything to do with the law or court you better hire you an attorney. They know stuff that lay people, such as Lamar, do not know. Plus the language itself is evidence enough to hire somebody. He is certainly a $40 million a year talent as we Browns fans all know, but c’mon. What is the reason for not hiring an agent? It is just curious to me. Not that he might get Deshaun-type money, but he should have been signed already. Why go into a season with this still an issue? Concentrate on the game and not his compensation efforts. Agents have not only the legalese experience, but are adapt at negotiating these types of things.

Lamar’s issue with not signing an agent appear to be his desire to avoid an agent fee, and all the while there has been zero movement on his new deal.

Cleveland Browns v San Francisco 49ers
Jim Ray Smith #84 and Len Ford #80 of the Browns talk on the sidelines
Set Number: X4022

10 Will this be the year that LB Clay Matthews finally gets inducted into the Hall of Fame? More than any other former Brown, Matthews should have gotten in years ago. 17 Browns are already in. Others who should be seriously considered in my opinion are WR Gary Collins, DE Bill Glass, OT Dick Schafrath and DE Jim Ray Smith.

11 Former Browns Anthony Griggs and Travis Tucker have teamed-up to host a youth football camp August 6 at Central Catholic High School in Cleveland. Click the link below for information and sign up. Marcus Donald of “The Mister Deacon Experience” Browns podcast is also involved.


12 One of the Bengals’ best players, safety Jessie Bates, failed to reach an agreement with the club on a long-term deal with Friday’s deadline for franchise-tagged players. Now he will make $12.9 million this year. Cincy had offered a contract that would have guaranteed Bates $4 million more over the life of a 5-year deal instead of dealing with more tags. For Bates, if he is unhappy he now is only locked into a one-year situation instead of the five his team wanted - unless he is tagged again.

His play has shown he is capable of being the highest-paid safety in the game. But don’t start thinking after this year the Browns will come calling. Analytics say to pay the safety position more in the line of $4-$5 million. Bates is a special player which we all know having to play against him twice a year.