The Browns-Palin Paradox

Sarah Palin, Cleveland BrownsLike it or not, the televised broadcasts within the National Football League are about ratings. The schedule that comes out every summer is one that seeks to maximize viewership, whether it be through pitting legacy-based teams against one another or showcasing a team that has gained respect over the course of the previous season. The ladder obviously refers to the Cleveland Browns, who had been graced with several primetime games this season.

Also in the “like it or not” category is the fact that every fourth year is graced with political advertisements. Approving messages. Putting down the views of the opposing party. Debates. But while this typically involves only the top of the ticket, the national spotlight has had room for many people this year. Being an election year, we have seen plenty of Senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But the landscape changed considerably when Sarah Palin was introduced to America.

And while the ultimate fate of the Browns and Ms. Palin remains to be seen, it is tough to argue against the fact that we have seen eerily similar paths to where we are today.


The Unexpected Introduction

A few weeks back when Senator John McCain was to name his running mate that would accompany him at the Republican National Convention, the pundits had several names on the would-be list. Guiliani, Romney, and even Lieberman. No one outside of the tight-knit circle saw the name Sarah Palin as a possible member of the Republican ticket for 2008. But it happened. She caught the world by storm; a female, from Alaska, that has little known history in the confines of Washington D.C. We quickly learned of her family, experience within energy, and the rest was yet to come.

After being decimated at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, many wondered if this team would even win a game. The starting quarterback in Charlie Frye was pulled without even completing a game; the team was in disarray. When discussing the potential playoff teams for the year, the Browns were not even a consideration. But the following 15 weeks would see Cleveland rattle off 10 wins. They did not make the post season, but they set the stage what would be plenty of hype for the 2008 season.

The Hype Train

Palin took the stage at the convention and began to give the nation sound bytes for the next several weeks. What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Sure, you know the punch line by now, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. She brought the new face that would rival that of Senator Barack Obama. A great compliment for the well-aged top of the ticket in McCain. Just what the doctor ordered to get the Republican half of the election in the spot light and set the tone for the rest of the season.

Though not making the playoffs, the Browns took to the summer with a laundry list of things to do. Without having a draft choice, they had no choice but to shake things up via the trade market. On a team that was severely lacking defense, Phil Savage added his version of complimentary names in Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. For good measure, the Browns added Terry Cousin in the secondary and Donte Stallworth on offense. Resigning Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis was just icing on the proverbial cake to get the Browns to the post season and beyond. So we thought…

The Step-back

Fresh off of the convention stage, Palin took to the interview circuit. That’s when the floor started to fall out from underneath – whether it was the ABC interview with Charlie Gibson that is infamous for the discussion of the Bush Doctrine, or the multiple-part interview with Katie Couric that brought these quotes:

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”


“Well, let’s see. There’s — of course — in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings.”

Not the best of moments, to say the least. But coupling the wonders of editing with the fact that media is not always fair and balanced, we have the given right to take these moments with a grain of salt.

Coming into the season with an arsenal of weapons, the Browns first pre-season game was abruptly interrupted by torrential downpours. So they took the field against the New York Football Giants. And the Giants proceeded to take to them, sending Derek Anderson and Brodney Pool to the sidelines with concussions, and then went on to score 30 unanswered points in a complete drubbing of the Brown and Orange. But the excuses started to pour out. No Braylon Edwards. No Shaun Rogers. No Josh Cribbs.

Tony Kornheiser could not have repeated the fact that Browns fans had to be at home beside themselves. It was embarrassing to say the least and set the tone for what was the remainder of the preseason.

A Chance for Redemption

When Palin took to the podium for the Vice Presidential debate, many said that the bar was so low after the media blitz that all she had to do was not mess up too much. If she could at least appear to hold her own, even a loss would be okay.

In similar fashion, following the Giants game, we had this wonderful quote from our own head coach.

“I’d like to win the game for one,” said Crennel. “The other thing is, I’d like for us to look decent. It seems that the consensus is that we were decent in the Jets game, even though we lost that one. I’d like to look decent against the Bears and go from there.”

Just look decent, and take it from there. Unfortunately, this team has not looked even the least bit decent. The offense has been inept, and they have practically limped into the bye week with one win. Which leads to this Monday night – Cleveland’s ultimate chance for redemption.

While we may not be able to know if Ms. Palin redeemed herself completely until November, the Browns will be given the chance once again in a national spotlight. But is it enough for the Browns to just “hold their own,” or do they need to win this one to get back the favor of fans? Does being “decent” count any longer? Did it count ever?

Supplant the voting booth with Cleveland Brown Stadium. I’m sure things will be rocking come kickoff – as they always are. The true test will come in the fourth quarter. If you see plenty of orange seats, you know what votes have been cast.

Start the countdown to Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Browns-mocking skit…


(Author’s Note: This post is strictly an observation with a touch of popular culture. In no way does WFNY endorse either political party and their respective candidates.  Thank you for your understanding.)

  • AMC

    Scott – no offense, but stick to the sports.

  • and the floodgates have opened…

  • Well, you know that Browns fans will continue to vote blindly for this team, win or lose, regardless. The NFL is like a dangling medallion of brainwashing in Cleveland. It doesn’t matter how many times the Browns stomp on our souls.

    One nice thing about this game on Monday is that the Browns don’t have to face Osi. They might get to DA anyway, but thank goodness there is no Osi to stalk the ball all game long.

  • Stick to sports? I’m pretty sure this post is about the Browns.

  • MacNip

    Thanx Scott…way to take my one care free part of my life (sports) and mixing it the most frustrating part of my life (politics). Now I have nothing

  • You’ve got your health…

  • S-Dub

    Let’s hope the Browns don’t go down like a sinking ship that is the McCain-Palin ticket

  • kiddicus maximus

    Palin’s basic lack of understanding regarding foreign policy leads me to…

    whoa, wrong site.

    both are doomed come November?

  • The Browns could go either way right about now. If they somehow manage to pull it together against the Giants on Monday night it could set the tone for the rest of the year. Maybe they run off 10 wins in a row. Then again, it could go the opposite way too.

    Last year the NY Giants lost the first two out of the gate and then ripped off 6 in a row on their way to the SuperBowl. How did anybody think about Eli Manning last season? It wasn’t the way we think about him now.

  • If Romeo Crennel winks at the camera every time there is a close up…I will change the channel.

  • bridgecrosser

    Palin loves her husband Todd. The Browns love Todd Philcox.
    Palin likes to say Joe Six Pack. To watch the Browns you need a six pack.
    Palin liked the Bridge to Nowhere. The Browns have the defense to nowhere.
    Palin says no to waving the white flag. Romeo doesn’t know about the red flag.
    Both will be forgotten come December….

  • The day that Tiny Fey does a Browns impression is the day I jump off a bridge onto the Beltway.

    Also I knew right away that picture was fake – no way a Browns QB would be smiling.

  • B-bo

    Look, I know the Browns have been terrible, but comparing them to Palin? That’s just cruel.

  • I think the Browns have to beat the Giants. I mean, look at all the electoral votes NY has. Oh wait, the Giants are in NJ. Well, they can still beat Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and take Pennsylvania.

    And that picture is hilarious.

  • Marshall

    Is there such a thing as a conservative sports blogger? Between this post, Deadspin becoming a DNC talking points blog that occasionally mentions sports, and the boys @ KSK, Im not sure how much more I can take.

  • Marshall- there is at least one on staff here…I didn’t mind the post because Scott didn’t endorse his candidate, or really slam another. It was more of an attack on the Browns…

  • Swig

    Ummm, Marshall… You can’t be mad at KSK if you’re conservative and still read their site.

  • MacNip

    He is comparing Palin and the Browns…if he is slamming the Browns then he is slamming Palin

  • MacNip… sometimes, I wonder if you’re baiting me

  • MacNip

    Now come on, I would never bait anyone.

  • Marshall – don’t worry, SI has a big article about the recessing economy and the average joe sports fan. More merging of sports and politics.

    Hopefully Sarah Palin shows up to drop the puck in the first NHL game. She does know all about hockey.

    Both sides have been getting after the NASCAR vote, which is just wonderful.

    Most importantly, could MacNip be a master baiter?

  • benj

    is there nowhere i can go to escape this woman?? she seems perfect for the republicelebrity party though… she and reagans ghost and the kindergarten cop should all go to alaska and secede into a marvelous oil-slicked doublethink-tank, and let the rest of us live our lives in relative peace.. after dubya, really, is this all you got, rnc? a team of “mavericks”?

    theres always election fraud, right?

    i was really afraid you were going to say she’s a browns fan…. there is some grace left on earth….

  • Wow I guess I know where most of the readers of this site lean in their political thoughts. As the one Alaskan in the group I guess I need to defend my girl. I have said for two years now I have America’s hottest governor, but that doesn’t mean much in the political spectrum. She has looked a little overmatched recently, just like the Browns on both sides of the ball. Honestly I was surprised she accepted the ticket. She should have waited four more years and then have six years as governor and then you couldn’t hype the unexperienced card. She has done some good things here, but it is early. She has taken on the oil companies who have been pretty much raping Alaska for years. We have so much oil and natural gas, she is the one person we have had who could probably get that viewed postively on a national stage.

    But yes, her ticket is a sinking ship. I don’t think that is her fault. McCain is the weakest GOP candidate I can remember, except maybe Dole. For all you Obama supporters, all I can say is careful what you wish for. At least I will get my hot Governor back.

    And for the record, I am not a Republican nor a Democrat, so you can’t try and rip me for being some party honk. But I am a Browns fan despite all the heartache and at least we can all have that in common.

  • with trying to win now and picking Palin too early, McCain may have hurt her long term politcal prospects…

    with trying to win now and not trading DA for picks, Phil Savage may have hurt the Browns longterm prospects…

  • That picture is killing me! Nice work.

  • Matt from Lyndhurst

    Scott, you got to photoshop a #10 jersey on that picture since Brady Quinn just spoke at the McCain/Palin rally in Strongsville….

  • bridgecrosser

    As a Browns fan I can admit the Browns are weak, pathetic and aren’t even in the same class as the Steelers…. Very tough to do but being realistic…

    But ask most Republicans to admit economy is weak, the Iraq deal was a catastrophe and the rampant abuses of power – and they won’t do it… Now many Democats might be the same way..

    But a very odd difference between sports and politcs…

    Also – read the Time article on her misguided strongarm attempts with the natural gas pipeline. A very good window into her management style (for better AND worse). Sometimes your team takes a hit. Her largest USA infrastructure project is a mess. Sorry, but it is…

  • Bridgecrosser I am not sure where you get your information, but perhaps you should stick to talking sports. Do you even know any Republicans? Most of my family is, and they all readily admit the economy blows (which you wouild have to be an idiot not to admit), the Iraq deal is now a no win situation where we are dumping money, and that Bush totally misused power. However there are many things, including the economy, that can rest at the feet of the Democrat led Congress as well as Bush’s feet. The sad truth is both parties have failed the people and there is no real alternative to them.

    Of course Time magizine is going to portray Palin and her policies in a negative light with half truths. She is a good looking woman, who is anti abortion, doesn’t do drugs, isn’t sleeping around on her husband, goes to church; all things which the editors of Time magazine view as stupid and not “tolerant, politically correct, socially aware” or whatever other lame description one could come up with. Time and Newsweek are as reliable to tell the truth about a Republican as Rush Limbaugh is about anything from the Democrat side.

    So take off your rose colored goggles and try and look at both sides of things before you make ridiculous statements about an entire group of people, (most republicans won’t admit economy is weak). That is dumb of you, and you are probably smarter than you sounded in that comment.

    I am not sure the writer of this article on the site was expecting a big political discussion. It seemed more of an article about the similarity in how hype can derail not only a football team, but also a political campaign.

  • bridgecrosser

    @Jeff – I was making a point about people being way more defensive about their parties…

    let’s not get into grammatical absolutism… if you’re going to fire at me about making generalizations then don’t make them yourself hypocrite… last time I looked OH voted for W two times, so of course I’ve never met a Republican, have them in my family, or even vote for both parties on various

    Way to kill the thread Mr. Sensitive

  • bridgecrosser

    @ Everybody – sorry if I killed the thread… I guess it was inevitable given the topic, sorry I had to be the one…

  • bridgecrosser

    To a new point – the always interesting John Hollinger PER came out – LBJ #2, Mo #59, Z #80 in NBA – the next CAV is mildly surprsing…

  • “I am not sure the writer of this article on the site was expecting a big political discussion. It seemed more of an article about the similarity in how hype can derail not only a football team, but also a political campaign.”


  • So is it too late for the “lipstick on a pig” analogy to the Browns defense?


  • Seth M

    I guess Palins head can now be photoshopped on our #10 quarterback:

  • JJ

    As an Alaska resident and a Browns fan, things are not looking bright for Palin or the Browns. Republicans have been known for “stealing” elections, so hopefully the Browns can “steal” a playoff spot from a hopeful wild card candidate that can share a similiar paradox to Obama and Biden.

  • JJ I didn’t know there was another Alaska resident on this board. Nice to hear from another one. Yeah things are not bright for our Governor, but at least we can get her back next month and get her working on getting the natural gas pipeline started finally.

    As far as the Browns, lets hope we at least put up a fight this week. The Giants have been awesome so far and will probably pound the Browns, but if we can at least be competitive, I would feel much better.

  • JJ

    Finally is an understatement. Thing’s been long over due. A Browns win against a quality opponent is long over due as well. Bound to get one, as the schedule is full of them. I’m just hoping the Browns take some big steps starting Monday. The AFC North is still WIIIIIDE open.

  • Wow it looks like Alaska might be rivaling DC as the home of displaced Cleveland fans.

  • JJ

    You should see the amount of fans we get to show up for an Ohio State game at the local sports bar in Anchorage. We got a fan club and everything. The Alaskan Buckeyes. A lot of alumni in the state.

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  • Cpl Yuk

    Go Obama!!!!!!!!!!!

    Im drunk and dumb, thats the best thing I could come up with.

    And JESUS Bridgecrosser… “grammatical absolutism” What the hell are you trying to prove with that. Drop a swear word in there somewhere so I can understand what you are speaking about. 🙂