COMMENTARY | You don't quit.
That unwritten rule is one of the first things we are taught at a young age whenever we begin playing organized sports. It doesn't matter how badly our team is trailing on the scoreboard or how frustrated we get. You play until the final whistle, until the clock strikes zero, until the final out is recorded. Every team loses now and again. Quitting, however, is never an option.
Analysts and sports talk radio personalities defending the deal that saw the Cleveland Browns trade former first round pick running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round selection aren't giving long-suffering fans of the franchise enough credit. You don't have to tell those who have followed the Browns for decades, let alone since 1999, about the importance of a NFL offense having a franchise quarterback. The last time Cleveland had one was the 1980s, and even that guy, Bernie Kosar, won't be entering Canton without a ticket anytime soon.
By trading Richardson on September 18, the Browns quit after eight quarters of regular season football. They punted from their own 20-yard line on first down. They went back into the clubhouse after being down several runs before the fifth inning. You get the idea.
Calling a season a lost cause before the official start of fall is ludicrous for any team. I, as well as every diehard fan who watched the team's first two games of the 2013 regular season, am well aware of how bad Cleveland's offense is. That offense will now have a third-string quarterback, Brian Hoyer, starting for at least one week, one legitimate wide receiver in Josh Gordon, and an o-line that might be the worst I've seen this month.
It's no secret in Cleveland or in NFL circles that Browns general manager Mike Lombardi has been a fan of Hoyer for years. Wouldn't it have been nice to see the 27-year old who has thrown fewer than 100 total regular season passes get a chance to play with Cleveland's top offensive weapons - Richardson, Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron - against a Minnesota defense that is, newsflash, not all that good? The Richardson deal didn't have to be done before Week 3, and anybody within the Browns who says otherwise is trying to sell a story.
Cleveland's new administration undoing all of the perceived mistakes made by the previous front office is understandable. Those resets happen all the time in professional sports. This process should have begun last spring, before the 2013 NFL Draft and when it was crystal clear that those running the Browns didn't believe that the team had a franchise quarterback in Brandon Weeden. At least in that scenario fans could have been made aware of where the team is now, and where it hopefully will be sooner than later.
Instead, fans were sold lies, tales of an offense that was going to air it out and take more chances in 2013, of a team that had a solid core but was maybe missing a handful of pieces. Perception is reality goes the old saying, and the perception here is that the team did all it could to sell as many tickets and as much merch (i.e. Richardson jerseys) as possible before blowing up the current roster. I've seen and heard some people compare the Richardson trade to when the Colts cut future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in 2012.
That move happened in March. Well before anybody could even conceive of what the Indianapolis offense would look like the following fall season.
The Browns were once one of the proudest and most storied organizations in all of American professional sports. Names like Paul Brown, Lou Groza, Paul Warfield, Leroy Kelly, and Jim Brown are but some of the many historic figures that have been associated with the team. It is the franchise of eight league championships, of the Kardiac Kids, of moments of despair and utter heartbreak such as "The Drive" and "The Fumble." Even when the team was ripped away from the city, fans didn't give up on the Browns. Rather, they fought harder than ever to preserve the team's history and to make sure that pro football was brought back to Cleveland as soon as possible. Even in the darkest of days, Browns fans never quit.
The same now can't be said about the team itself.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo! Sports since 2010
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