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May 18, 2012 - Mike McLain
YOUNGSTOWN -- You don't often see a NFL head coach making the rounds on the regional circuit to drum up support, but that's exactly what Browns coach Pat Shurmur has been doing.
Shurmur appeared Friday at a luncehon at the Maronite Center to meet with media representatives and a full house of fans. During his speech he said that the fans might have noticed his cheerful demeanor. He went on to explain that he's a positive person, and he sees reason for optimism after the recent NFL draft.
There is a buzz surrounding the organization after landing two certain starters in running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden. It's possible the Browns could get four or perhaps five starters out of the draft, including offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz, either John Hughes or Billy Winn at defensive tackle and possibly Brad Smelley at tight end/fullback.
The buzz will wear off quickly if the Browns don't do something in a hurry to change their image as a perennial loser. Fans are tired of rebuilding projects every other year. They see stability and winning franchises in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and they want a piece of the pie.
The stop in the Mahoning Valley was one of several such events the Browns have participated in since the draft in late April. The plan might be to meet the public and put a face on the organization for fans, but it's also to spark excitement and sell a few season tickets along the way.
The message from Shrumur was that these stops are a good thing and something to be repeated in future seasons. Truth is, if the Browns start to win consistently, they probably won't have to meet the public to generate support, and if they don't start winning another head coach will be making the rounds the next time.
Shurmur probably shouldn't have been asked to make all the stops. As the coach he has precious little down time during the offseason. The next time the Browns hit the road, they should put the true face of the team front and center -- president Mike Holmgren.
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