As Trent Richardson escaped the warm embrace of offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao en route to a 26-yard touchdown run, the running back ran straight through eastern end zone, heading straight to the Dawg Pound to acknowledge the fans amidst a chorus of cheers from those who braved the elements on that very day. The guitar riff from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blared, fans slapped gloved hands. The only problem: So did Richardson.
The back who Christened his first NFL touchdown with half-cocked front flip ran towards the Dawg Pound and merely handed out a few high fives before giving way to Phil Dawson and the extra point unit.
Prior to the game, the team announces, one-by-one, members of a given team. Two weeks ago, it was the special teams unit, this past Sunday was the offense with Richardson bringing up the rear, garnering the loudest of cheers. A handful of players then sprint down to the end zone facing the Dawg Pound, take a knee in prayer, and then do their best to rile up the troops. Naturally, this may not be the best time to run full speed and lunge into the beer-holding hands of waiting fans. But after a touchdown? These guys have to do the leap.
The Lakefront Leap.
It’s a working title; an obvious play off of the famed Lambeau Leap in Green Bay, it’s no different than the Mile High Mount enjoyed several times on Sunday night, twice by wide receiver Eric Decker. The only rule exists in flow — how easily does it roll off the tongue? Alliteration obviously helps, hence the two aforementioned celebrations.
The Dawg Pound Dive? The Browns Bounce? The Haslam Hurdle? Victory Vault?
Call it what you want, it needs to happen. This team is finally showing signs of having life on the offensive end, progressing from 32nd in total offense in 2009, to 29th in 2010 and 2011, currently ranking 20th despite having to play their latest game in a what was the onset of the northeastern apocalypse. Richardson — along with Brandon Weeden, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Greg Little — provides Cleveland with what appears to be their most talented group of young offensive playmakers to simultaneously take the field since the team’s return in 1999. If the future is indeed bright, traditions are in order.
After seemingly endless seasons rife with 50-yard field goals, the touchdown count is starting to inch up1. With Randy Lerner handing the keys to Jimmy Haslam III, changes are on the horizon. Why not make this one of them?
Once instilled, the Lakefront Leap will be something encouraged and celebrated. For the next several years, while Trent Richardson is breaking opponents’ ankles, leaving them as a pile of flesh and plastic as he sprints toward another six points, he’ll need that extra 10 yards of a head start as the arms of an Orange and Brown-clad fan await. The subsequent cheers will be even louder. The opponents, that much more defeated.
(John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)
- The Browns managed a mere 20 offensive touchdowns through all of 2011; this season, they have 15 through the course of eight weeks [↩]