July 31, 2014

“Road Tested” still entertaining, still giving hope

Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner were Photoshopped into the 2012 Cleveland Browns team photo at his direction. Not only is that a true statement, but Haslam chronicled it on the new documentary TV show, “Road Tested,” about the Cleveland Browns.

Last night’s episode handled the Browns’ losses to the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos. The losing isn’t what’s important about this show; losing is the only thing that matters on Sundays, but by Tuesday night this show really breaks up the pity party and adds a dimension to the team once again. It’s helping to make the Browns a good kind of entertaining distraction instead of the thing that ruins an entire week with online arguments and bitter talk radio. With that realization, it seems all the more fitting that Haslam is Photoshopping himself into the team photo.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: With regard to Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner and my glowing remarks so far, this is the easy stuff. These guys have made all the right decisions at this point, but they’ve yet to make any of the really difficult choices. And no, firing people isn’t a difficult choice, especially with the leeway of installing a new corporate structure and culture. It’s the part where you choose replacements that is far more difficult and important. Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner haven’t even gotten into the deep end of the pool. Still, they are navigating the shallow waters with the ease and grace that we should be able to expect from every NFL organization. Browns fans know better than anyone not to take the little things for granted.

Take the final scene from last night’s show where Jimmy Haslam and his wife hosted the entire organization for a Christmas party (presumably at their house in Brahtenahl). They entertained the players, their wives and girlfriends as well as what appeared to be the rest of the employees in the organization. As I watched everyone socialize and smile amidst the Christmas decorations and plentiful hors d’oeuvres, I was left wondering what the players are thinking of the contrast between Haslam/Banner and those who were replaced in the photo, presumably Randy Lerner and Mike Holmgren.

You wonder if even those who might not be back next season aren’t thinking that it figures the Browns finally get a guy who knows how to do things just as they’re not going to have any of the benefit of suffering the leadership vacuum prior. Maybe that’s me projecting things that fans think about on players who don’t really think like that at all, but I still have to wonder.

Again, this is the easy stuff and I already wrote it once about the P.R. upgrade provided by the TV show, but after watching every week, it bears repeating. These guys are jumping over the low bars really well so far. They don’t seem to fear doing so with such style as to cause fans to raise those bars either. It’s just a TV show and it’s chronicling a team that only has five wins. Of course it takes more than slick video production to turn a moribund franchise into a winner. Still, I’ll be damned if this thing doesn’t feel hopeful for the first time in a very long time.

  • humboldt

    This show is totally vacuous and corporate…but I can’t look away. Actually, have missed the last two episodes; does anyone know if full episodes are archived online somewhere? I can only find clips on the Travel Channel site.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I know exactly what you mean… I wouldn’t even tune in to see this show if it wasn’t about the Browns, but since it is about the Cleveland Browns I watch it every week and make noises that indicate something like “oh, that is interesting”.