Did you feel more happiness or relief when the Cleveland Browns defeated the San Diego Chargers to avoid the infamy of being a winless team? Either way, Hue Jackson and his charges now can finish out the last game of the season against the Pittsbugh Steelers without that burden.
We hear coaches talk about turning the page, and the Browns can do that figuratively having a win notched. Literally, they can turn the page on their calendars when they embark on Sunday as it will be the first game of 2017. The one thing that we know for sure about 2017 is that the Browns have yet to lose a game in that year.
Outside the painted lines
There have been a bunch of celebrity deaths in 2016. Did any of them affect you and which do you think was the biggest?
Joe: There were a lot of huge losses this year to even pick from the long list. But personally, John Glenn and Muhammad Ali are the top of my list of the biggest losses this year. Both men were bigger than their professions. They changed the world and made it a better place. They are both men who are great examples of living their life to the fullest.
Michael: All people’s time on this world is limited, so I attempt to focus on celebrating the lives that were lived to the fullest. And, few people have lived a fuller life than John Glenn. He was a true American hero in every sense of the word. The New York Times obituary is a must-read. To me, it isn’t sad that he died, but amazing that he lived the life that he did. Here’s hoping that history always remembers John Glenn.
Josh: It’s hard for me to saying exactly who’s was the biggest because all of them were sad, especially for the people around that person. 2016 was a horrible year in terms of well known people passing away. Can we turn the new page yet? That being said, I agree with Dave (below).
Scott: I try to not get impacted by things beyond my control, but I would say Muhammad Ali’s was the biggest of them all. Prince was a big one. Bowie wasn’t far behind. Ali, however, transcended his trade. While this wasn’t a category here, Jose Fernandez’s was easily the most shocking.
Pat: I never really stopped to think about it, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m really surprised at which one affected me the most. I think the death of Prince was the one that hit home. I was never more than a casual fan of his hit songs, but they make up a collection of music that will always have me singing along in my car. The songs “Little Red Corvette”, “Raspberry Beret”, and “When Doves Cry” immediately transport me back to my childhood. I remember a friend and I playing the song “7” over and over again in college. The story that Charlie Murphy tells on Chappelle’s Show about playing basketball against Prince and the Revolution is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I was sad to see an icon pass.
Dave: To be honest, not really. I find it fine to be sad about a celebrity passing, but I am much more affected by deaths in my own family or family members of friends. Thank God I don’t have to attend the funerals of friends.
Jim: So, we have Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman and Prince and David Bowie and Gene Wilder and Florence Henderson and Glenn Frye on the entertainment side, and the big three of Gordie Howe, Arnold Palmer and Muhammed Ali on the sports side, to go along with Jose Fernandez, John Saunders, Craig Sager, Nate Thurmond (who will always be a Cavs legend to me), Pat Summitt, Joe Garagiola, Bud Collins and John Glenn. This was a year in which naming one that was more impactful than another is virtually impossible. I can literally come up with a 500 word piece or more on everyone listed above…so I’ll miss them all in one way or another.
What are your favorite non-Cleveland sports moments of 2016?
Joe: The 2016 Olympics was my favorite non-Cleveland sports moment. Whether it was the dominant performance by the USA women’s gymnastics team or Kyrie Irving earning his first gold medal on the USA men’s basketball team, the 2016 Olympics was a great event. Michael Phelps’ final Olympic performance was also an extraordinary thing to watch. The Olympics had so many great story lines.
Michael: USA Women Gymnastics obliterating the competition at the 2016 Olympics. Not only did they win 9 medals, but Simone Biles and Aly Raisman finished 1-2 in the all-around. Heck, they could have swept the all-around had the Olympic rules not limited how many members a team could send to the finals. The US women also “looked” different. While much of the world appears to still be focused on small, nimble gymnasts, the US Women’s team realized that having girls who were muscular as well as flexible is what would win the modern events.
Josh: Olympics. I know they don’t come around every year, but watching the United States women’s gymnastics team, Michael Phelps, and Katie Ledecky was awesome. Can we have those kinds of things happen every year?
Scott: The Olympics were fascinating, specifically Usain Bolt, the women’s gymnastics team and what Katie Ledecky was able to do to the rest of the world. Honorable mentions to Buddy Hield in the NCAA tournament, and the Hall of Fame inductions of Ken Griffey Jr. and Allen Iverson.
Pat: Katie Ledecky’s domination of the field in each of her swimming events at the 2016 Olympics is the thing that sticks out for me. She absolutely destroyed everyone in her path.
Dave: My English team of choice, Aston Villa hired Steve Bruce as its manager and has improved very very much without adding additional players (and cost). Hopefully they’re on the right track for promotion soon.
Jim: Three moments popped into my head immediately. The first is the most Cleveland of Non-Cleveland moments, and that’s Bartolo Colon’s first home run. Everything about it was wonderful, from watching it go over the wall, to the crowd reaction, to his full-on sprint around the bases (he just can’t run any faster), to the Mets hiding in the dugout. The second is Michael Phelps, and while I could just stop there, and you’d get it, that singular moment in which he stared down South African Chad le Clos in the waiting area prior to the 200M butterfly semifinals. le Clos had beaten Phelps in the 2012 Olympics, giving Phelps one of his only blemishes that year, and was busy shadow boxing in front of the greatest swimmer who every lived. His reaction in the waiting room was miraculous, but in the pool was even better. Phelps beat him in that semifinal heat, then pulled away in the finals, winning the gold, complete with the Dikembe Mutombo finger wave at the fourth place finisher, le Clos. But my favorite moment, without a doubt, was Allen Iverson’s Hall of Fame speech. Iverson has always been straight from the heart, and love him or hate him, there truly has never been a better Hall speech, dare I say, in any sport. If you haven’t seen it, take the next 30 minutes of your time, and thank me later.
What are your favorite non-sport moments of 2016?
Joe: My favorite non-sports moment of 2016 was the rise of Cleveland to national spotlight. Whether it was the Cavaliers championship or the Republican National Convention, Cleveland was thrust into the spotlight of the entire country. It was awesome seeing the national media talking highly of the city and how it was a city deserving of more recognition.
Michael: Let’s focus on the positive. NASA’s Juno took some breathtaking images of Jupiter where we learned a ton about the planet and realized we still are dumb when it comes to the interstellar.
Josh: The election actually being over. This commercial is approved by Josh Poloha
Scott: Rock fans will disagree, but I thought 2016 was a terrific year for album-based music. The hype surrounding, and subsequent releases of The Life of Pablo and Blond were nothing like I’ve experienced as a fan of music. The explosion of visual albums like Lemonade and Endless is an entirely new forway into a business that had been bruised and battered not all that long ago. The ascension of Chance the Rapper was fascinating and uplifting and rewarding. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for 2017 and beyond. Music sales may never be what they once were, but today’s landscape is arguably the biggest meritocracy we’ve seen a in a very long time.
Pat: I really got into the presidential election this year, which is a first for me. I usually have a very pessimistic view towards politicians believing that you can’t really attain the highest position in the country without completely selling your soul to the people who pay for your campaign and keep you in office. So in that regard, it’s difficult for me to find a presidential candidate who I am really excited about backing. However, this year I found that even though I usually don’t care who is in office, I found someone who I really wanted to keep out of office, and that person was Donald J. Trump. To my horror, he won enough electoral college votes to win the presidency, but I really have enjoyed the commentary I’ve read and heard in 2016, and I’ve had some fantastic discussions with people on both sides of the aisle. It’s been a lot of fun.
Dave: The election being over I guess?
Jim: Wait, there are moments outside of sports? I think the world became a better place when I joined WFNY…wait…that probably doesn’t count, because it’s sports related, although that’s sadly debatable. This year was swarmed under by a tidal wave of horrible election coverage. The fact that I live in Pennsylvania and North Carolina has made me numb to incessant ramblings of both sides of the aisle. So, my favorite non-sporting moment wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election (so far from it), but that the election ended. My greatest fear? Election 2020 coverage is likely to start any time now. And on a personal note, without getting too detailed here, my family has found someone that I “lost” from my past. I don’t know where it goes from here for my family, but just the finding was pretty special. I hope at some point, I can write about it.
The Browns won a game to eliminate the possibility of going winless, and they kept the No. 1 overall pick when the San Francisco 49ers won too. With the Steelers potentially resting a bunch of players (locked into the 3 Seed), are you cheering for a winning streak or keeping that pick locked up?
Joe: I will never actively root for a loss, but I am in a huge quandary with this game. I think the No. 1 pick is immensely important because it will net an elite prospect, Myles Garrett, in my opinion. So, while I am not actively rooting for a loss, I want the Browns to keep the No. 1 pick, so you can see where I stand.
Michael: The Browns are playing the Steelers. I shall always root for a Browns win in that game even though I do believe Myles Garrett is the best player in the upcoming draft by a good measure.
Josh: Beating a bunch of Steelers second-stringers doesn’t do much for the future of this team. Do you know what does help this team moving forward? Having the No.1 draft pick. I don’t want to hope for (another) Browns loss, but that would be what’s best for the Browns moving forward.
Scott: I’ll never root for my team to lose, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the current 5.5-point spread didn’t make me feel a bit better about the team’s long-term prospects. It should also be noted that I’m not one of those people who are pretending this is a one-person draft. I’d love Myles Garrett, but to act like this class isn’t littered with players who could improve the Browns heading into next season is foolish.
Pat: I just can’t root for my team to lose. It’s not in me. This is especially true when talking about playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. I absolutely loathe them and I want to see them lose in any scenario, so I suppose that puts me on the side of forfeiting the top draft pick. There’s no way the 49ers win two games in a row, right?
Dave: BEAT THE STEELERS
Jim: The better question is whether or not the first or second pick really matters? OK, OK, OK, I actually believe in my heart of hearts that the Browns need the best pick they can get, and then go out and take the best quarterback on the list, or figure out a way to target a quarterback, and trade down (I feel like I could be beat up for making that statement, but I digress). I’d rather not get into WHO that quarterback is right now, but suffice it to say that the Browns are in an enviable position draft wise whether they have the first or second pick. I hate saying this, but I do believe the Browns should do everything possible to win the football game. It’s the Steelers, and it’s the NFL. Just win the damn game, and draft good players. You don’t need the number one pick to hit a home run in the draft…ask the Steelers.
RG3 helped deliver the Browns only win of the year and cancelled the parade (h/t to those proceeds being donated to charity). When Griffin passes concussion protocol, then should he start or should the Browns get one last look at Cody Kessler?
Joe: I really don’t think it matters who starts. One game will not show anything for either player. We already know that we need to address the quarterback position this offseason. These two are not the answers.
Michael: Hue will start RG3 if he can. It is pretty obvious that he prefers the veteran quarterback, which is why declining his option this offseason will be an important moment for the team (can you tell that I don’t believe in Griffin?). I would love to get one last look at Kessler before entering this offseason.
Josh: Can the RG3 experiment be over yet?
Scott: Robert Griffin III is the team’s starting quarterback and should be treated as such.
Pat: I’m all for one last look at Cody Kessler, at this point. RG3 has been so incredibly bad at throwing the football that I just can’t see a real future for him on the team. I don’t want him in there stealing snaps from guys who need those chances to develop.
Dave: At this point I don’t think RG3 will be here next year and Kessler probably will be. So let RG3 take the pounding.
Jim: Well, they’ll get a good look at Kessler against the Steelers back-ups? Sounds a lot like preseason, to me. Who cares who the quarterback is. Put in RG3 for a set, and Kessler for a set. Put Pryor in there too, and run out a lineman or two just for fun. In the end, I’m not sure you learn anything about Kessler in any sense of the word, that you can’t learn after an offseason more of learning the playbook, followed by preseason stuff. Here’s the thing. They’re going to draft a quarterback in the first round, so what are we really going to learn anyways? In the end, to me, let Hue make the decision, and just be okay with it. I love Hue Jackson, and think he can build a fantastic team over time. Let him make the call, just understand he knows more about football than us, and reasoning be damned. Compare it to Terry Francona’s love for old, washed up relievers. When we get an Andrew Miller at quarterback, all of this won’t matter anyways. Wait, can Andrew Miller play quarterback? Nix that, I don’t want the Browns to ruin everything.
One last week before this season is mercifully over. What was the biggest positive to come about from this season?
Joe: The best thing to come out of this season is the development of the young players given all the playing experience they had this season. Terrelle Pryor, Emmanuel Ogbah, Corey Coleman, Cameron Erving and many other young players received a lot of playing time this year. This allowed them to develop and learn with experience and it allowed the team to evaluate what they have with the young crop of players.
Michael: Jimmy Haslam is still preaching patience. While Meder, Shelton, Kirksey, Ogbah, Coleman, and Pryor (among the young players) have shown some good growth and potential this season, none of it matters if Haslam doesn’t allow HBT and Jackson time to create a system for the team to play within consistently.
Josh: Hue Jacks0n. For the first time in a long time, I actually believe in the head coach this time round.
Scott: I enjoyed the breaking out of Terrelle Pryor in addition to the out-of-nowhere addition of Jamie Collins. I also see a lot of potential in Corey Coleman. Where these three go from here, however, remains as big of a question mark as any.
Pat: Young assets! I think a number of Browns fans have forgot that it really takes a couple of years for rookies to grow into the players they are going to be for the rest of their NFL careers. Corey Coleman can work on his route running and become a better player. Emmanuel Ogbah can work on his pass rush moves and become a better player. Derrick Kindred can work on gap fits and become a better player. Shon Coleman can work on his hand placement and leverage to become a better player. Spencer Drango can add more muscle in the weight room and become a better player. The Browns are littered with youth right now and as these guys get older, several of them are going to get better, and so will the team on the whole. This injection of young talent is the biggest reason for my optimism right now.
Dave: There have been some actual bright spots. Surprisingly, since the bye-week, Cameron Erving has been one of them…who knew?!
Jim: It’s not scientific. It’s not game plan. But Hue Jackson gets it. Like what Michael Bode said up above, I hope to hell Jimmy Haslam lets this regime breathe a bit, and if he blows it up too early, I hope to hell the NFL gets rid of him. Craig…CRAIG…we need to pod on the top ten ways to get rid of Haslam. But as to the biggest positive? This:
“This one’s for you.”
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 24, 2016