Like it or not, the televised broadcasts within the National Football League are about ratings. The schedule that comes out every summer is one that seeks to maximize viewership, whether it be through pitting legacy-based teams against one another or showcasing a team that has gained respect over the course of the previous season. The ladder obviously refers to the Cleveland Browns, who had been graced with several primetime games this season.
Also in the “like it or not” category is the fact that every fourth year is graced with political advertisements. Approving messages. Putting down the views of the opposing party. Debates. But while this typically involves only the top of the ticket, the national spotlight has had room for many people this year. Being an election year, we have seen plenty of Senators John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But the landscape changed considerably when Sarah Palin was introduced to America.
And while the ultimate fate of the Browns and Ms. Palin remains to be seen, it is tough to argue against the fact that we have seen eerily similar paths to where we are today.
The Unexpected Introduction
A few weeks back when Senator John McCain was to name his running mate that would accompany him at the Republican National Convention, the pundits had several names on the would-be list. Guiliani, Romney, and even Lieberman. No one outside of the tight-knit circle saw the name Sarah Palin as a possible member of the Republican ticket for 2008. But it happened. She caught the world by storm; a female, from Alaska, that has little known history in the confines of Washington D.C. We quickly learned of her family, experience within energy, and the rest was yet to come.
After being decimated at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, many wondered if this team would even win a game. The starting quarterback in Charlie Frye was pulled without even completing a game; the team was in disarray. When discussing the potential playoff teams for the year, the Browns were not even a consideration. But the following 15 weeks would see Cleveland rattle off 10 wins. They did not make the post season, but they set the stage what would be plenty of hype for the 2008 season.
The Hype Train
Palin took the stage at the convention and began to give the nation sound bytes for the next several weeks. What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Sure, you know the punch line by now, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. She brought the new face that would rival that of Senator Barack Obama. A great compliment for the well-aged top of the ticket in McCain. Just what the doctor ordered to get the Republican half of the election in the spot light and set the tone for the rest of the season.
Though not making the playoffs, the Browns took to the summer with a laundry list of things to do. Without having a draft choice, they had no choice but to shake things up via the trade market. On a team that was severely lacking defense, Phil Savage added his version of complimentary names in Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. For good measure, the Browns added Terry Cousin in the secondary and Donte Stallworth on offense. Resigning Derek Anderson and Jamal Lewis was just icing on the proverbial cake to get the Browns to the post season and beyond. So we thought…
Fresh off of the convention stage, Palin took to the interview circuit. That’s when the floor started to fall out from underneath – whether it was the ABC interview with Charlie Gibson that is infamous for the discussion of the Bush Doctrine, or the multiple-part interview with Katie Couric that brought these quotes:
“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”
“Well, let’s see. There’s — of course — in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings.”
Not the best of moments, to say the least. But coupling the wonders of editing with the fact that media is not always fair and balanced, we have the given right to take these moments with a grain of salt.
Coming into the season with an arsenal of weapons, the Browns first pre-season game was abruptly interrupted by torrential downpours. So they took the field against the New York Football Giants. And the Giants proceeded to take to them, sending Derek Anderson and Brodney Pool to the sidelines with concussions, and then went on to score 30 unanswered points in a complete drubbing of the Brown and Orange. But the excuses started to pour out. No Braylon Edwards. No Shaun Rogers. No Josh Cribbs.
Tony Kornheiser could not have repeated the fact that Browns fans had to be at home beside themselves. It was embarrassing to say the least and set the tone for what was the remainder of the preseason.
A Chance for Redemption
When Palin took to the podium for the Vice Presidential debate, many said that the bar was so low after the media blitz that all she had to do was not mess up too much. If she could at least appear to hold her own, even a loss would be okay.
In similar fashion, following the Giants game, we had this wonderful quote from our own head coach.
“I’d like to win the game for one,” said Crennel. “The other thing is, I’d like for us to look decent. It seems that the consensus is that we were decent in the Jets game, even though we lost that one. I’d like to look decent against the Bears and go from there.”
Just look decent, and take it from there. Unfortunately, this team has not looked even the least bit decent. The offense has been inept, and they have practically limped into the bye week with one win. Which leads to this Monday night – Cleveland’s ultimate chance for redemption.
While we may not be able to know if Ms. Palin redeemed herself completely until November, the Browns will be given the chance once again in a national spotlight. But is it enough for the Browns to just “hold their own,” or do they need to win this one to get back the favor of fans? Does being “decent” count any longer? Did it count ever?
Supplant the voting booth with Cleveland Brown Stadium. I’m sure things will be rocking come kickoff – as they always are. The true test will come in the fourth quarter. If you see plenty of orange seats, you know what votes have been cast.
Start the countdown to Tina Fey/Amy Poehler Browns-mocking skit…
(Author’s Note: This post is strictly an observation with a touch of popular culture. In no way does WFNY endorse either political party and their respective candidates. Thank you for your understanding.)