Last week, WFNY selected our all-time favorite Cleveland Browns as thoughts of good players past and present were recollected. Being a fan of the Browns though is rarely as easy as having players such as Eric Turner and Joe Thomas. More often than not, the player we thought could join that elite class falls short. Oftentimes, the fall happens in spectacular fashion. Those players deserve their time as well, so this week WFNY gives them the spotlight.
The rules are simple. Choose your favorite all-time Browns player who broke your heart for not being as good as you thought he’d be. If someone has already selected that player, then choose your second favorite (or third if second also picked, etc.). Give a brief explanation why you chose the play and it is highly recommended to add an appropriate image or GIF.
Here we go.
Players who broke our heart for not being stars for the Browns
Joe: Josh Gordon
He gave us just a glimpse of his immense talent in 2012 and 2013. That small stretch of games was incredible. He was the best receiver in the league and he was playing for the Browns. His size, speed and ball skills were elite for a receiver. But, his constant drug and character problems derailed what could have been a Hall of Fame career. For the past couple of years, he has broken the hearts of Browns fans with the hope of possibly returning to the field just to stumble and not be able to come back to the team. Talent wasted.
Corey: William Green
In 2002 the Browns spent the sixteenth overall pick on a troubled Boston College running back named William Green. As a rookie, Green motored for 887 rushing yards and 113 receiving yards for a perfect 1,000 along with six touchdowns. He helped push Cleveland to a playoff berth and hopes were high that he could be a franchise back for some time. Unfortunately, inexcusable drunk driving and drug possession led to suspensions that curtailed his 2003 season after only seven games. In 2004 he returned to the field. He could not match his rookie numbers, and after a tussle with Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was ejected before the Pittsburgh game even began. Green gained only 78 yards in 2005, and his career ended shortly after. While sad that his career did not pan out, his contributions to the 2002 team can still be appreciated. Jimmy Donovan said it best, “Run William Run!”
Pat: Lee Suggs
It may come as no surprise to the WFNY regulars that I’m a huge Virginia Tech football fan. Virginia Tech is not Ohio State or Alabama.1 There are typically only one or two Hokies drafted each year who have staying power in the NFL, so I was beyond excited when I heard that the Browns had spent a 2003 NFL Draft pick on running back Lee Suggs. He was never the biggest back or the fastest back in college, but I felt like he was an absolute steal in the fourth round. Suggs was one of those running backs who seemingly sees the entire field at any moment in time and always chooses the correct route to take. He shattered the touchdown records for running backs at Virginia Tech for one simple reason: he wanted to be in the end zone more than his opponents wanted to keep him out.
As Browns fans, we got to see a glimpse of what Suggs was truly capable of doing in his rookie season. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns on 56 carries in the 2003 season. However, an ACL injury in college and several injuries early in his NFL career doomed Suggs to being just another failed player in the NFL. I’ll always wonder what he could have been if his knees held up.
Dave: Phil Taylor
Listen guys, I don’t want to hear about the Julio Jones trade right now. I love Phil Taylor. Unfortunately, like many big men, his body couldn’t seem to handle the wear and tear that the NFL subjects it too. He was always engaging with the fans on social media. He always had a good sense of humor and he has two adorable dogs that he loves like they are his kids. On the field he played with fire and aggressiveness. Sometimes too much aggressiveness. But he loved giving high fives to the fans after the games and you could tell he genuinely loved Cleveland. My only indirect interaction with Phil came when I named my fantasy football team the Uncle Phil Taylors and posted a photoshop I made to the browns subreddit. Somehow it got to Phil and he put it up on his instagram. It will always be my crowning achievement.
Bode: LeCharles Bentley
One snap in Training Camp is more than the other player who could have made this list for me, Chris Spielman. Bentley only wins due to the uncertainty of Spielman’s future being known when the Browns selected him in the expansion draft though his No. 54 remains the only jersey hanging in my closet.
Bentley was different. A Clevelander by birth and Buckeye by choice wanted to return to Northeast Ohio after becoming one of the NFL’s most dominant interior lineman during his four years playing for the New Orlean Saints. He was ESPN’s top ranked free agent in 2006, and he signed a big money deal with the Browns. One snap into Training Camp, he crumpled and never played in the NFL again.2 Twisting the knife, Bentley became a well-respected coach with his Bentley OL Performance company demonstrating his elite knowledge for the positions.
Craig: Kellen Winslow Jr
Is this the part where I get to talk about the only Cleveland Browns jersey I’ve ever bought as an adult? Yes. Yes it is. I knew Kellen Winslow was a great player from the moment he was drafted. There’s no record of this opinion, but I can rarely name a drafted player that the Browns have ever selected where I thought the guy would be able to deliver on what he was supposedly good at. Kellen Winslow was that guy.
NFL legacy? Check. Talent? Check. Attitude? Check.
As it turned out, all these things ended up – as so many other things in the history of the Browns – blowing up in everyone’s faces. Kellen Winslow got hurt on the field, and then he really destroyed a huge amount of his ability off of it with his motorcycle crash. He was brilliant at times after that, but he was never the same. He was a player who could no longer practice and still be healthy enough to play.
It’s incredible that even after that rookie year broken leg, and the 2005 motorcycle crash that cost him the entire 2005 season, Kellen Winslow still put up nearly 2,000 yards receiving in two subsequent seasons. When Winslow was finally traded to Tampa, I wasn’t even that sad about it. It was a move that made sense for everyone at that time. That’s a testament to how much water had flown under the bridge with Winslow, the Browns, and me as one of his most sorry fans to know what could have been.
Josh: Charlie Frye
When the Browns selected Charlie Frye in the third round of the 2005 draft, the quarterback had everything going for him. A hometown kid with Northeast Ohio on his side for years, a gunslinger who had the chance to be the team’s franchise quarterback of the future, and even a guy who had plenty of hope and promise.
Whether it was the Frye For Heisman hype train while quarterbacking the University of Akron to MAC greatness or being able to help his city that was starving of a legitimate, contending NFL team, everyone had high hopes for Frye. But, those high hopes quickly crumbled, just like almost every other quarterback who has donned the orange and brown since 1999.
After just three seasons with the Browns and two more years in Seattle and Oakland (one year each), the quarterback’s playing career came to a quick end. But, it’s fun to imagine the what ifs? What if the hometown kid could have been the quarterback of the Browns for years. What if Frye could have been the MAC quarterback that become a legitimate NFL QB in the league instead of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and former Miami Redhawk Ben Roethlisberger. What if, just as a dream, he could have been the guy and led the Browns to a playoff run, let alone a Super Bowl and brought his hometown team what they deserve. What if, Frye would have become the star football player that used the slogan “Just a kid from Akron, Ohio” while holding up the Lombardi Trophy.
Scott: Brian Robiskie
The 2009 NFL Draft was shaping up to be perfect for the Cleveland Browns. Coming off of another woeful season, Eric Mangini and the Cleveland Browns owned the fifth pick in the draft. The Lions were ready to restart their franchise with Georgia’s Matt Stafford, but Mangini knew that the rest of the quarterbacks were wild cards at best. When Aaron Curry was plucked right in front of them, the Browns head coach knew he could get a ransom for that No. 5 pick and did just that. The New York Jets threw Mangini their first-round pick along with a second-rounder. With another round of trade downs, Mangini not only was able to land an eventual All Pro in Alex Mack, but amassed three (three!) second-round picks. This, my friends, is the way to get a franchise rolling in the right direction.
Enter Brian Robiskie. Robiskie was thought to be the most NFL-ready of all the receivers. He came from Chagrin Falls. He attended Ohio State—Browns fans love Buckeyes—and filled a position of need. He was one of us! He played in 31 games, hauling in just 39 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns. Only seven catches were made in his rookie season. Just two-plus years later, Robiskie was waived to sign a running back named Thomas Clayton.
Sure, we could point similar fingers to guys like Mohammed Massaquoi or David Veikune, but those were more the fault of Mangini. Literally no one (outside of Eric Mangini) thought that Veikune pick would pan out, and the fact that LeSean McCoy, Phil Loadholt, William Moore and Paul Kruger all went within the next five picks is all you need to know. With Robiskie, however, it was different. He was supposed to be the man. He was from down the street. We watched him every Saturday. His dad, Terry, was a coach! It would all be for naught, however. Robiskie wouldn’t materialize at any of his other stops, which is oftentimes enough justification for Browns fans, but damn—his inability to produce for the orange and brown was killer. In a draft that would serve to set the Browns back several years, it’s the kid from Cleveland who may have inflicted the most pain.