Sometimes it requires a degree in psychology to cover the Cleveland Browns.
From the outside looking in there are times when nothing seems to make sense. When someone from the public relations staff tells the assembled media that the locker room is open for interviews, I expect to see 53 couches for players to lounge on as they open up and release their innermost feelings.
It's been that way since the expansion season of 1999, and for some strange reason the patient never improves. It must have something to do with the id, ego and super-ego being out of line.
Whatever the reasons, the Browns are a difficult group to figure out. They can insult the intelligence of astute football fans and dull the imagination of those that have given up hope of anything good happening in the near future.
Two emotions that I get from fans all the time are anger and the lack of hope (which translates into apathy). I can't remember the number of times in recent years when someone has asked me if I think the Browns will play in the Super Bowl in their lifetimes. I can't answer yes, even to a 5-year-old.
That's the sad reality of what's happened in Cleveland in the last 13 seasons. Except for two winning seasons (2002 and 2007) and one playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only thing good about going to a game has been how quickly the parking lots empty afterwards.
I still think it all started prior to the beginning of the first game in 1999 against the Steelers. After waiting three seasons for the return of football, eager fans foaming at the mouth for their beloved Browns watched comedian Drew Carey run onto the field to lead the introduction of players.
Seriously, a comedian (and one that's not all the funny) welcoming back the Browns. At that time we all should have known that a cruel joke was being played on the fans. They really weren't getting their football team back. Yeah, the players were dressed in uniforms and orange-colored helmets, but there was little else about them that presented the image of a real team.
There had to have been another celebrity that could have led the introductions in the '99 opener. Bob Hope was too elderly. Plus things didn't go all that well when he was on hand for the Cleveland Indians' final game at Cleveland Stadium in 1993.
I'm thinking Paul Newman, who was born in Shaker Heights, would have been a good choice. A talented, serious actor that was well-respected for his professional and charitable works. He would have put a good front on the return of the Browns.
But, no, the best Cleveland could do was a guy who hosts the "Price is Right." Oh, well, what else could you expect from a city that has known primarily nothing but losers with its sports teams for a couple of generations.
It was supposed to be better with the arrival of Mike Holmgren as team president in January of 2010. Once he cleared out Eric Mangini as coach this year and brought in Pat Shurmur everything would start to improve.
Holmgren is now probably wondering if it's true that something is in the water in Cleveland. Only the Browns can acquire and develop Peyton Hillis into one of the league's elite running backs one season and have him develop chronic hamstring problems and become a divisive force in the locker room the next season.
Next season Hillis will be gone; Montario Hardesty will be one injury away from ending his career; Colt McCoy will be backing up Matt Barkley, and Brian Robiskie will be a Pro Bowl receiver in Jacksonville.
Thanks a lot, Drew.