On Saturday night, after a pretty funny conversation I won't go into detail about, my boss asked me if I was a glutton for punishment. Upon further review, the ruling in the office stands and yes, I am a glutton. How do I know this? I looked in my closet and saw the wide array of clothes with Cleveland Browns logos on them.
I, like many of you, have stuck with this team through thick and thin. Through good and bad (obviously more bad than good) and even through the days of nonexistence. And like many of you, I always think the next season is going to be different. Wow, I'm a glutton and a fool.
This year, I thought, was really the year. I wasn't completely on board with the decision to keep Derek Anderson in favor of letting Brady Quinn earn his stripes, but I dealt with it. I figured, "Hey, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel are smart men who surround themselves with smart people who have been around the game a lot longer than I have. They must know what they are doing."
I believe that statement less and less each Sunday.
But I reached my limit on Sunday. No more can I go around making excuses for "my team." What was it about Sunday that made me want to throw in the towel? I'll tell you in three words: the Atlanta Falcons.
Say what you want about the Browns and their string of bad luck, it is nothing compared to what the Falcons have had to endure in the past few years. Michael Vick really never turned into the franchise quarterback they thought he would. After his one shining year in 2004, Vick drove away coach Jim Mora and then drove himself to federal prison on illegal dog fighting charges in 2007.
On top of the Vick saga, there was the incident with Bobby Petrino. You remember, right? The offensive-minded coach from Louisville brought in especially to cater to Vick's running style? Yeah, well he lasted about as long a Britney Spears marriage and after 13 games, went running back to the college ranks.
To any outsider, one would think this season would be a rebuilding year. They are relying on first-round draft pick Matt Ryan to lead the huddle. While he's not tearing up the statistics, (20th in QB rating and 22nd in passing yards), he's also not messing up. He's thrown just five interceptions and has been sacked just nine times.
As for the running game, Michael Turner is currently third in rushing yards but he's not yet a recognizable name. What I mean is is he's not a LaDainian Tomlinson or an Adrian Peterson.
The Falcons have no big names with big contracts. Yet, they are a respectable 5-3 with a rookie quarterback, a better-than-average running back and a first-year coach in Mike Smith. While they may win the Super Bowl this year, owner Arthur Blank and general manager Rich McKay have to be going to sleep every night with smiles on their faces.
And then there are the Browns, who are 3-5 after Sunday's collapse against Baltimore. Their supposed franchise quarterback Quinn riding the pine so much that he has left a permanent indentation on the bench. While he is probably wondering why he wanted to become a Brown in the first place, Anderson is still trying to scramble with his size 50 feet. Anderson has only thrown for 13 more yards than Ryan, and has thrown seven picks.
But every once in a while, Anderson does throw a good pass, and it's usually to Braylon Edwards, who I don't think can catch a cold right now, let alone a ball.
Then there is running back Jamal Lewis, who is starting to get up there in age. He might have some 100-yard games left in him, but those can only happen if you average more than 3.6 yards a carry.
Finally, there is Kellen Winslow Jr,. who can't stay healthy long enough to get in a groove with Anderson or the team. But he isn't the only one bitten by the injury bug. The Browns seem to lead the league in injuries, and of course, staph infections.
There is no one player to blame, as everyone has had their share of problems this season. But the Browns' problems are nothing compared to your star player being put in federal prison and your coach disappearing on you in the middle of the night.
I think the solution needs to come from the top, starting with owner Randy Lerner, Savage and coach Romeo Crennel. And I don't want to hear any more excuses about why, yet again, the Browns are underachieving. You don't hear the Falcons, who are supposedly in a rebuilding year, making excuses.
Oh, wait. Why should they? They have a winning record.