August 26, 2014

OJ the Musical plus LeBron James and Kevin Love! – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-25

I had Jeff Rosenberg from OJ the Musical on once before to promote his movie. I’ve been trying to get the Cleveland native back since it’s been released on iTunes and other VOD places. To my benefit this time he brought the movie’s star, Jordan Kenneth Kamp.

We talked about the movie, what it was like to take it to festivals, and what it was like to be a comedy at the festivals.

We talked a lot about the Cleveland Cavaliers and how crazy an off-season it has been. Jordan tells us about how he attended the draft, bought an Andrew Wiggins jersey and either introduces to or reminds me of the nickname Hot-Wad Williams.

Check out this episode!

NFL players say Browns are third least-desirable team to play for in the NFL

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At least we’re not… Oakland?

ESPN’s NFL Nation did a confidential survey of 82 players and Oakland was the team they’d least like to play for. That’s what the poll concluded after the prompted statement, “The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.” The Browns came in third after the aforementioned Raiders and the Buffalo Bills. The Browns collected 16 percent of the vote.

The only surprise on the list for me was the Green Bay Packers coming in fifth. I just assumed all of the “top” teams would be big-time losers. Apparently there might be a bit of geographical bias when it’s an available option for an NFL player to be so picky and choosy.

That’s the real good news out of all this. The Browns’ best players haven’t bolted because the structure of the system enables the Browns to keep Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and Alex Mack, you know, providing the Browns in turn agree to make them very rich.

Now, if the Browns can start to consistently win and find more and more players worthy of being given giant contracts, I’m confident that they can get themselves out of the flunky five that NFL Nation came up with. As always, that’s a big “if.”

Browns poor preseason doesn’t guarantee regular season failure

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There’s nothing concrete that I can point to that will make Browns fans feel any better heading into the final preseason game and then Week 1′s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team has performed badly and it would appear that they’re completely unprepared to start the season. It would appear that this Browns’ preseason is worse than last year. A year ago, Brandon Weeden and company looked good for two games before faltering in the third game and sitting out the fourth. This year’s Browns have struggled for three straight games as Brian Hoyer and the Browns have looked mostly horrendous. All that said, I haven’t given up hope just yet and I feel like I want to provide a calm message with this team right now. [Read more...]

Despite Sam Bradford injury, Pettine doesn’t think Hoyer is back too soon

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In the wake of the Rams losing Sam Bradford to an ACL tear, it’s natural to wonder if the Browns’ own QB isn’t coming back too quickly. It hasn’t even been a year since Brian Hoyer tore his ACL against Buffalo and he’s back out there as the Cleveland Browns starter. When talking about the situation, Mike Pettine said he doesn’t think Hoyer’s back too quickly.

“The circumstances of all the cases are different. I have a daughter that’s done both ACLs, so having gone through it and knowing the rehab and knowing the process and how it gets repaired, a lot of times it comes back stronger than it was before,” he said. “I think that’s difficult to make a blanket statement on all the knee injuries. Certainly what happened to Sam is so unfortunate, but we feel confident with where Brian is and I think he’d be the first one to tell you that his knee feels strong.”

The fact is that it’s impossible to draw conclusions about Brian Hoyer from Sam Bradford. While I certainly can’t speak to an NFL player’s experience coming back from an ACL, I can speak to just how different each injury is. In my two ACL surgeries, one was a pretty clean injury and the other included cartilage damage as well. When you casually talk about these things they all get called “ACL injuries,” but it only makes sense that each injury and each patient experiencing the injury are different.

One thing that’s for sure is that NFL players are at risk of these injuries as much as any athletes in the world in all likelihood. Let’s be frank. NFL players are humans – albeit well-conditioned humans - running around a field with extra pounds of equipment on their bodies while being blocked and tackled by giants. Point being, there’s no way to conclude that Sam Bradford or any other player is or isn’t ready simply because they get injured again any more than a player is unprepared for the season because he tears an achilles or some other muscle.

I feel awful for Bradford who has to stare down another year of rehab. While it’s natural to root for and against professional athletes, I never want to see a player lose because they can’t even stay on the field.

(Photo – Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Forbes claims Browns fans aren’t among the top 10 in the NFL

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It’s officially NFL list season at Forbes. When the NFL starts up, while others are debating depth charts and fantasy stats, Forbes does some compelling work looking at the business of the game. It’s the kind of work that likely tightens Darren Rovell’s pants.1 Anyway, Forbes has come up with a formula to calculate the NFL’s best fans as we stand today, and your Cleveland Browns don’t crack the top ten.

Here they are, in order:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Denver Broncos
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New England Patriots
5. Baltimore Ravens
6. Indianapolis Colts
7 (tie) Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Seattle Seahawks
10. Chicago Bears

But how did Forbes decide that Wisconsinites are the best in the business? Take a look.

Our ranking is based on five criteria: hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen Scarborough as a percentage of the metropolitan area population that watched, attended, and/or listened to a game in the last year), 3 years worth of television ratings (per Nielsen), 3 years of stadium attendance based on capacity reached, 3 years worth of merchandise sales (per NFLShop.com), and social media reach (a combination of Facebook likes and Twitter TWTR +0.11% followers based on the team’s metro area population).

You’ll have to excuse me while I yawn a little bit here. Any calculation or formula that doesn’t control for the quality of the product on the field is pretty useless for this Browns fan. I’m sure there are far more excited fan bases out there right now, but I doubt there is one that’s as excitable as Browns fans. The constant changes in management, personnel and consistent losing on the field should serve as an amplifier in these rankings when it comes to Clevealand.

None of this is to say that Green Bay Packers fans aren’t great. They are. But don’t start to tell me that you can compare all these teams—most of which have had tons of success in the last decade—with a voracious fanbase like the Browns’ that has eaten mostly rotten food year-in and year-out since 1999, while consistently begging for more.

 

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Footnotes:

  1. You’re welcome for that mental image. []

Does MLB even want to speed up the game?

Keith Olbermann took on the outgoing Bud Selig on his show last night. In this segment, he points out that Major League Baseball has the power to speed up games with two rules that are already on the books. So, what gives?

Keith Olbermann is on to something, and I think it’s a problem. Baseball has little incentive to fix the length of games because they make so much money selling advertising on the “increased inventory” of longer baseball games.

Baseball is far from the only pro sport with this issue. NFL games are the butt of jokes every year when fans are blasted with the touchdown – commercial – kickoff – commercial TV break after scores.

Ultimately though, these are the kinds of things you wonder if the sports leagues will pay for. When pro sports are making money at the rate they currently do, there’s no incentive. Also as pro sports is the last of a dying breed of live programming that they can count on viewers not to DVR, it seems even logical to not mess with it.

I can’t predict the future, but to me it sounds all too much like Tower Records charging $18.99 for a CD until they could no longer afford to keep their stores open. We’ll see if the new commissioner prefers to try to change or lean on the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philospophy.

Nick Swisher doing a Hafner impression and the Foo Fighters on TV… While We’re Waiting

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As you all are reading this, I’m likely in the middle of driving to Indianapolis for the weekend. Just so you know I’m not typing and driving. More on Indianapolis later in this post. For now, let’s get started, shall we?

Nick Swisher is the Travis Hafner sequel nobody wanted

Hafner SwisherI might feel sorry for Nick Swisher if I wasn’t too busy feeling sorry for my fellow Tribe fans. Indians fans had enough heartache with the trades of Cy Youngs, Victor Martinez and having to ride out the Travis Hafner contract. To think that the Indians would sign someone like Swisher, even with largely modest fan expectations for the guy, and have him turn into another Travis Hafner is just crushing. The news that he not only has aging, achy shoulders, but now needed double arthroscopic knee surgery to clean things out is hair-pullery that Indians fans had hoped was long-gone.

I don’t have a point here. I was in favor of signing Swisher or a guy like Swisher. I know that he’s a great teammate and a good person who wants nothing more than to make Indians fans happy by producing above his contract. Travis Hafner was the same way. I couldn’t hate him for all his struggles either. It’s just the unlucky roll of the free agent dice, I guess. It’s just too much. And there’s still two years and $30 million left to go before the Indians are free.

For reference, when the Indians had two years left to go with Hafner, he’d played 57, 84 and 118 games before finishing his Tribe career with 94 games in 2011 and 66 in 2012. Hopefully the Indians can get more than 160 quality games from Nick Swisher over the next two years.

Incommunicado during a very big sports day

I won’t pretend to be a big Gladiators fan, but they’re playing in the Arena Bowl on Saturday. The Browns are playing their most important pre-season game at the same time. The Indians will be live and in person at Progressive Field. All the while, the dormant Cavaliers might have a Kevin Love trade to announce. As one of the resident Browns guys, you’d think I’d be tuned in and writing furiously about the Browns as they’re making news on the field. Alas, I’ll be in Indianapolis at my wife’s1 high school reunion, DVR’ing the Browns, likely not glued to my phone for news.

And even if I could steal away for some TV time, how would I ever find the Browns pre-season game without Johnny Football scheduled to take starter snaps? I often say that given technology it’s the best possible time to be a sports fan. Even the wonderful advent of technology won’t save me this weekend. We’ll have to talk about it all after it’s already gotten stale by Monday morning.

Following up on the Ferguson chat on the podcast…

I had a great time talking to WayneEmbrysKids on the WFNY podcast and it was mere moments before he was driving to Ferguson to help out. Once he got back, he wrote about his trip on the pages of Scene Magazine’s website. It’s well worth a read.

As I enter the room, I am monitored by a camera and listened to by microphones. A booming police officer voice addresses me over a speaker and I respond while looking around at the ceiling as if I am talking to Jesus Christ himself floating in a cloud over my head. I am struck by the positive reaction to my very frank explanation that I am here to get arrested people out, and also to my request that I be permitted to wait in this three-chair fluorescent light lobby rather than be outside and myself be subject to arrest for a curfew violation.

There’s no good way to segue out of Ferguson talk, but I’ll do it anyway.  Here’s my pop culture / entertainment tidbit for the week…

This. Show. Looks. Cool.

Let’s be honest, music-themed TV shows aren’t usually all that great. Most music TV is reality-based singing competitions where in the end the audience choices end up not doing all that well artistically or commercially. Musical documentaries are better for art of course, but for every good one, there are 100 bad or boring ones. If I have to bet on one based on a trailer, I’m going to bet on the Foo Fighters doing a show for HBO about making their latest album with different musicians at different studios all over the country.

Sonic Highways is a bit of a cheesy title, but Dave Grohl and his band are consistently consistent and always have their heart in the right place. When you see guys going about their thing the right way, you just have to support it. Once I saw the opening to the Foos video for the Skin and Bones album where Dave Grohl walks around an arena with an acoustic guitar, I knew that I could trust the band with more than just music. Here’s the trailer for their new HBO show.

Have a great weekend everybody! Listen to a WFNY Podcast.

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Footnotes:

  1. cough 20th []

Johnny Manziel called out by Hulk Hogan (for ALS Ice Bucket Challenge)

“Whatcha gonna do?” We now know that Johnny Manziel won’t be starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers, assuming Brian Hoyer is healthy. We also haven’t seen Johnny Manziel in any non-football videos lately. Sure one of the football-related ones will presumably get him fined for flipping the bird. But now, Johnny has all the excuse he needs to make an off-the-field video that won’t earn him any trips to the principal’s office. All thanks to the immortal Hulk Hogan.

Manziel loses to Hoyer, Browns defense and the rest of the camp battles – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-20

The fake Jim Kanicki who is also the real Mike Burgermeister came on the podcast to talk about the Browns today.

We talked about the following…

  • Brian Hoyer’s MNF game
  • Johnny Manziel’s MNG game
  • The offensive line vs. the defensive line
  • The Cleveland Browns running attack in 2014
  • Jerome Harrison
  • Browns unhealthy relationship with running backs since Jamal Lewis
  • much much more

YouTube…

Libsyn…

Check out this episode!

Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and the undelivered quarterback mandate

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Brian Hoyer has been named the starter for the Cleveland Browns as they head one step closer toward the start of the regular season. If you really think about it, it’s not all that surprising. The Browns basically named Brian Hoyer the starter heading into camp. Basically. Nearly. Almost. Not quite. In a lot of ways, Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan would have made their lives infinitely easier if they had just gone that next step and named Hoyer the starter back when the veterans reported for camp, but they seemed to want someone to prove it. That’s understandable.

[Read more...]

Forbes says the Browns are the 22nd most valuable NFL team

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We already knew the Browns were valuable because Jimmy Haslam paid a big price to buy the team from the Lerner family. Just how valuable are the Browns relative to the rest of the league? Forbes says the Browns are 22nd.

Team value: $1.12 billion
Revenue 2013: $276 million
Operating income 2013: $35 million

There’s also no secret why the Browns sought the services of Alec Scheiner. He came to Cleveland after working with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. According to Forbes, that team is the most valuable with an estimated team value of $3.2 billion.

All the numbers seem pretty crazy and high, but just think about it from Jimmy Haslam’s perspective. The best way to ensure your investment of $1 billion is to find someone who can grow that number. In the NFL that’s absolutely possible, even in a small market. The Packers are the 13th most valuable team, for example.

Now, if they could just get Johnny Manziel to win the starting quarterback job, how much would that boost the value of the franchise?

Matt Dery talks Cleveland sports vs. Detroit sports – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-19

Matt Dery from 105.1 FM in Detroit jumped on the podcast to discuss lots of Cleveland sports topics.

  • Johnny Manziel vs. Brian Hoyer
  • The QB curse and Matt Stafford
  • Does Detroit appreciate Matt Stafford?
  • The Cavaliers getting LeBron James
  • The Dolan “cheapness” bit
  • The Cleveland Indians in 2014
  • Indians trade deadline

Check out this episode!

Making the cases for Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer as starter

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Neither Johnny Manziel nor Brian Hoyer have won the Cleveland Browns quarterback job. You can make the case for either quarterback at this point, mostly because you can’t make a good case for either. Rather than haggle over who gets to plant their flag in the rotting soil that has become the Browns’ QB depth chart, I figured I would just make the case for both guys so we can skip the part where we argue about it. In the end, the only thing I’m sure of is that the Browns need to name someone the starter for week one so whoever it is can be the best prepared they can be.
[Read more...]

Neither Johnny Manziel nor Brian Hoyer show up for QB competition in Washington

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Does anyone want to “win” this Cleveland Browns’ quarterback job? Based on the first half of the Browns’ second pre-season game against first-team defense, you wouldn’t think so. What happened?

As we all know Brian Hoyer got the first crack. You can’t necessarily blame Brian Hoyer for all the miscues that started the Browns’ pre-season game against Washington. There was an early snap and a Joe Thomas false start before Hoyer hit an unsuspecting Jordan Cameron with the football in his side before it fell harmlessly to the turf. On his second try, Hoyer had a couple of hand-offs to Ben Tate and a low third down throw.

Hoyer gave way to Johnny Manziel and Manziel didn’t do much better. He tossed to Ben Tate, threw low and incomplete and then got himself sacked. All this after being handed good field position by Joe Haden’s interception and 37-yard return into Washington territory.

After a long Washington drive, Manziel finally got the ball back at the Browns one inch line via defensive goal line stand.1 He completed the offense’s first first down to MarQueis Gray to get out of the shadow of his own end zone. Manziel eventually accounted for a drive of 11 plays and 60 yards and a punt. The drive was extended thanks to a 15-yard personal foul against Washington. Yet again the Browns’ first-team offense was held scoreless.

The Redskins replaced their first-team defense after that as Brian Hoyer re-entered the game for a Josh Gordon drop and a ball in the end zone thrown behind Andrew Hawkins. Thankfully for the Browns it did result in a field goal, but that’s hardly worth celebrating. This touchdown-less streak is starting to feel oppressive.

Washington finished the first half scoring a rushing TD to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Four total completions and 84 total yards for Browns quarterbacks in the first half.

I’ve figured out the Browns’ offensive gameplan for this year and it’s just one word.

RUN!

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Footnotes:

  1. The goal line stand was really impressive, by the way. []

Jerry Jones’ son “snatched” the Johnny Manziel draft card away on draft day

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Have you guys heard about how the Dallas Cowboys almost drafted Johnny Manziel? I thought everyone had, but it’s come up again, this time with even more details. Jim Dent has written in his new book that Jerry Jones’ son “snatched” the Manziel draft card from his dad’s hands, otherwise Johnny Football would be in Brandon Weeden’s spot, presumably.

Jones made his “that close” comment on NFL Network on July 28. And in a new book, “Manziel Mania,” author Jim Dent reveals that Jones couldn’t resist himself from drafting Manziel. Instead, his son Stephen, the team’s executive vice president, held his father back from drafting Manziel.

Instead of grabbing one of the most decorated college quarterbacks in the draft, the Cowboys executed a decidedly less “sexy” draft maneuver. The Cowboys drafted offensive guard Zack Martin. By all accounts the Cowboys are very happy with their first rounder and how he’s picking up the NFL game, but it makes you wonder if Cowboys fans will always wonder what could have been.

We’ve been through that in Cleveland as the Browns pretty well passed on Mark Sanchez via trade-down in order to eventually get Alex Mack. Obviously the situation is a bit different as the Cowboys flat passed on Manziel for Martin, but the equation works out the same now that the chips are on the table. If Manziel goes on to become a superstar franchise quarterback, the Cowboys will probably regret it and look back at stories like the above with a burning fire of anger.

The Browns might have the fifth fastest team in the NFL

20140818-104436.jpgUsing an arbitrary and made-up methodology of measuring, Bill Barnwell has concluded that the Cleveland Browns might be the fifth fastest team in the NFL. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t matter at all… until it does. By that, I mean that measuring the Cleveland Browns in any other manner other than wins feels pretty trivial by this point. Still, when others do it, I find it fun to imagine it could be meaningful as we are on the eve of another NFL season.

The Browns placed fifth after Tennessee, Washington, the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills. The only other AFC North team in the top ten was Baltimore at No. 9 and the Bengals come in at No. 11.

It’s fun to look at, but in the end, speed has translated all that well to winning, it wouldn’t seem. Tennessee won seven games in 2013. Washington won three. The Jets won eight. The Bills won six. The Cleveland Browns (you might remember) won four.

If only we could have some Wonderlic equivalent for coaches, general managers and owners…

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Did Mike Pettine make a foot fetish joke about Rex Ryan in ALS ice bucket video?

Rex Ryan accused Mike Pettine of taking a page out of his book as he took some friendly jabs at his former assistant. Mike Pettine wasted no time responding with an offer to go “toe-to-toe” at any time. Although I can’t be positive, I’m just guessing that this is Pettine’s way of poking fun at his former mentor’s alleged connection with various foot and toe videos.

Charity has never been this entertaining.

Jack from @wayneembryskids talks about LeBron James and Ferguson – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-15

WFNY Podcast LogoWe had planned on talking about LeBron James and Kevin Love, but then he considered going down to Ferguson to try and help out with his legal skills.

So, we did end up talking about LeBron James and Kevin Love, but we spent a lot of time talking about what’s happening in Ferguson as well.

Check out this episode!

Scott Raab profiles Mike Pettine, underwater MP3 players, and Michael Cera… While We’re Waiting

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What’s up everybody? It’s Friday and I’m on for WWW. Hope it’s one of the good ones. We never know when we write these, by the way. I’ve discussed this with Andrew and the rest of the crew and it’s a mystery to us which ones are going to draw commentary and which ones will draw flies.

Oh well. [Read more...]

Cedar Point, Johnny Manziel, LeBron James, and the Indians playoff chances with TD – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-14

WFNY Podcast LogoI got a chance to talk to TD about all three Cleveland teams. That’s always a blast for me. Today we spent a good amount of time talking about the Tribe and the season they’ve put together.

We also talked about LeBron coming home and what that means for a sports family like TD’s that is baseball, and football first.

Lastly we talked about Johnny Manziel, the Browns and what it must be like for Brian Hoyer to try and win the starting job. We talked about how even as we expected hype around Manziel that it’s surprising just how crazy things are around him.

Oh, and we led off talking about Cedar Point, which rules.

Check out this episode!