August 26, 2014

How far can NFL teams go to keep “away” fans away?

NFLShieldCould the Browns someday work to eliminate Steelers fans from Browns games? Wouldn’t that be sweet? Could they only sell tickets to fans who live in a certain area? Those two questions will be answered soon, it would appear, thanks to a lawsuit filed by a 49ers fan against the Seattle Seahawks.

I’m fascinated by this lawsuit. On the one hand, I get that the Seahawks really wanted to keep their stadium filled with Seahawks fans for their playoff game against the 49ers. It’s understandable in a playoff environment where you know a game is going to sell out. But even though it makes sense to me, did it violate any laws?

“The practice of withholding the sale of tickets from the public at large and allowing only credit card holders limited to certain areas is a violation of the Federal Consumer Fraud Act and/or common law,” according to the lawsuit filed April 15.

In the case of January’s game, the Seahawks limited ticket sales only to credit cards with addresses in the states of Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t have much of an opinion on how this should turn out, but I’m interested nonetheless. Also brought into the equation for the fan, John E. Williams III, is the NFL’s reliance on public subsidies and money from taxpayers to build stadiums. I’m not sure if that helps or hurts his cause though, because public subsidies and taxpayers are garnered locally to build that stadium.

The future of the 12th man isn’t exactly hanging in the balance. Regardless of the outcome, I’m guessing Seattle’s homefield advantage will remain substantial whenever the team is good. Still, it will be interesting to see if this new territory in ticketing is legal or not.

Recently, the Columbus Blue Jackets did something similar for their playoff opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They restricted credit card sales to Ohio in an effort to pack the house with hometown fans. Pittsburgh has often had a very sizable Penguins crowd when playing in Columbus.

[Related: Tribe weekend wrap: swept away in San Francisco]

Mike Pettine responds well to Cleveland Browns Harbaugh revelations

Pettine presser

Regardless of the conclusion one chooses to draw from the recent revelations regarding the Cleveland Browns’ attempted acquisition of 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, it’s a pretty big piece of news. The reverberations were obviously going to reach recently-hired Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, but rather than being bowled over by the waves, Pettine has planted his feet and deflected them with relative ease.

When speaking of the phone call that Pettine received ahead of the news, the coach said, “I shot the messenger a little bit because I asked, ‘How does that affect my tenure as the head coach?” That’s a pretty healthy outlook if you ask me. Coach Pettine continued, “I think that’s noise. That’s something that has no bearing on my job moving forward and I think that’s a critical thing.”

Finally, to put it to rest, Pettine echoed a lot of my own sentiment regarding the Browns’ pursuit of a proven head coach. “I think that when you look at it, I think that it shows that the organization’s committed to getting it turned around, that it would investigate that option. I see that as a positive.”

The Jim Harbaugh news couldn’t have much less to do with Mike Pettine when it’s all said and done. Pettine is a first-time head coach without an NFL track record at that level. Pettine couldn’t be offended by the Browns’ pursuit of Jim Harbaugh anymore than they could be if the Browns had conversations with any other candidate with an NFL track record.

Pettine knows that it’s his job. He knows that he likely beat out some candidates. He also likely knows that he never would have been hired if a few other options had come together in the Browns’ favor. That’s not a knock against him. That’s just reality of his level of candidacy. The good thing is that it appears Pettine is the kind of guy who can accept who he is and where he is currently. He seems firmly focused on making the most of his own situation.

I really like this guy from what I know of him so far. It’s going to be a real shame (for him and for us) if it turns out he isn’t at least a decent NFL head coach.

[Related: Wading through the reports of the Cleveland Browns and Jim Harbaugh]

Wading through the reports of a Browns trade for Jim Harbaugh

Cleveland Browns headquarters training camp

Berea, Ohio: Where the fun never stops

Late Friday, the never-ending Cleveland Browns coaching search – which really did end on February 6 when the Browns hired Mike Pettine – got an extension in the news cycle. Pro Football Talk got wind of an apparent trade between the Browns and 49ers for their coach Jim Harbaugh and anonymous sources have been doing battle ever since. But what does all this mean for Browns fans as they get set for an immediate future with Mike Pettine?

[Read more...]

Browns almost traded for Jim Harbaugh?

jim-harbaugh-inside-apMike Florio from Pro Football Talk may just have the craziest story to drip out of the bucket of insanity that was the last two months of Cleveland Browns news: Berea almost pulled a trade with the San Francisco 49ers that would have given them the rights to head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Per multiple league sources, the Cleveland Browns nearly pulled off a trade with the 49ers for the rights to coach Jim Harbaugh.

A deal that would have sent multiple draft picks to San Francisco was in place between the teams. But Harbaugh ultimately decided not to leave the 49ers.

There were dozens of unsourced, loosely discussed rumors discussing a “mystery candidate” (not named Dan Quinn) for the job which ultimately went to Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Naturally, many local folks are coming out of the woodwork claiming to have had this news but were, for whatever reason, unable to report it. Folk lore states that the Browns reached out to San Francisco to talk to the highly-discussed Greg Roman; Harbaugh reportedly stated that he was the one interested.

The Browns released an official statement on the matter, claiming that the “team did an extensive coaching search and explored several options,” and that it “produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine.”

Regardless, the Browns, reportedly due to compensation reasons, did not land the incredibly successful NFC West coach. They did land Mike Pettine. The former will be vying for this fourth-straight NFC Championship game while the latter attempts to get the Browns to .500 for the first time seven years.

Dawson lets Cleveland know admiration is still mutual

Many Browns fans found at least a tiny bit of joy in their hearts last night when Phil Dawson hit a game-winning field goal to help the 49ers beat Green Bay in Lambeau field yesterday. Well, thanks to the modern world of social media, we can verify that Dawson still appreciates the fans in his old football home, not that it’s much of a surprise or anything.

Dawson helped propel Kaepernick and the boys forward 23-20 in a hostile, frozen road game. Insert comment about ice running through Dawson’s veins as a Packer defender flew dangerously close to blocking the kick that Dawson also snuck in on the right hand side of the goal posts.

The friends of WFNY on Facebook were digging it in a big big way last night, as well.

Dawson Dagger

NFL Trade Rumors: Browns talking Josh Gordon with 49ers?

It was reported a couple weeks ago that Josh Gordon was on the trade block and he still could be right now. He’s had some great games coming off of suspension, but what we don’t know is if that makes him more or less likely to be traded. According to Ian Rapoport, it would take a second rounder to get him out of Cleveland.

As the Browns have been celebrated for the boldness of trading Trent Richardson for a first rounder, would they be celebrated for trading Josh Gordon? Obviously the answer depends on what they get back for the young, troubled wide receiver. It’s also hard to figure out what the news would do to the previous thoughts that have just barely been extinguished about the team “tanking” the 2013 season thanks to Gordon’s return from suspension and the emergence of Brian Hoyer.

Obviously we’ll have to see. It’s hard to compare the potential trade of Josh Gordon to the trade of Trent Richardson. There have been mostly questions about Trent Richardson’s on-field contributions. That’s not been the case with Gordon. Simultaneously, there haven’t been a lot of questions about Trent Richardson as a citizen and it’s undeniable that Josh Gordon has a history of making mistakes and is walking up to the plate with two strikes at all times.

In (most likely) unrelated news, the Browns did re-sign Josh Cooper to their practice squad today…

[Related: Why I don’t like the Trent Richardson trade… yet]

NFL News: San Francisco 49ers sign Owen Marecic

The San Francisco 49ers signed Owen Marecic today after sending nose tackle Ian Williams to injured reserve. The former Cleveland Browns fullback was released by the team on August 27th.

We’re talking about a former Browns fan whipping boy, of course. Whether it was to highlight supposed Browns drafting incompetence or simply just another excuse to talk about fan favorite Laurence Vickers, Marecic’s name came up early and often. The comments on the Marecic post were pretty interesting, actually.

Harv 21 said: ok, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. Marecic:

- had a heckuva back story as a competent 2-way player.

- was never arrested and never complained bout nuthin’.

- has much brighter post-NFL career prospects then, say, Josh Gordon, what with his genuine Stanford degree.

The death watch is officially over. Godspeed, Owen. WFNY peeps: he’s gone, and Russell Branyan and David Delucci aren’t walking back through that door. Time for a new punchline guy.

Make sure you go check the rest for the thread about the worst Browns draft picks since 1999. I saw a Beau Bell reference in there, I think.

[Related: Writer’s Block Roundtable on the boring Browns and Indians playoff race]

Colt McCoy agrees to pay cut, wins backup spot for 49ers

It may not have much to do with the Cleveland Browns anymore, but I still love following the news about former Browns that we pinned hopes and dreams to at various times. Colt McCoy has apparently been named the backup to Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco as of yesterday, but that wasn’t the real news as far as I was concerned.

Among all the quotes about Colt McCoy failing to meet, let alone exceed expectations and struggling to pick up the offense, there was this little tidbit.

It was a big weekend for the quarterback, who helped his chances of staying by agreeing to a pay cut as well.

Earlier in the year, Yahoo! reported that Colt McCoy had played enough in the 2012 NFL season to exercise some contract escalators. That took his cap number in 2013 and made it $2.325 million. Of course he was then traded from a team flush with cap space to one at a very different cap cycle with highly compensated players all over the field. Additionally Colin Kaepernick – signed through 2014 – is set to have a cap number of $1.398 million in this upcoming season as the starter. The former 2011 second rounder will presumably cash in at some point, but wouldn’t it have been comical if he was in a situation where it would make logical sense for Colt McCoy to pick up the tab at a restaurant on the road this season?

The rumors on Twitter have it that McCoy reworked his deal so that he will only make the veteran minimum of $630,000 and has a chance to earn some money back if he’s active and plays. This being the NFL where guys can get cut at almost any time, $630,000 is far (far) better than $0. Plus there was the added pressure of the 49ers signing Seneca Wallace last week, so it probably made all sorts of sense for the former Texas Longhorn.

[Also See: Sunday Six Pack: Reasons to stay optimistic following loss to Colts]



NFL News: Browns Ray Ventrone joins San Francisco 49ers

Special teams standout Bubba Ventrone has reportedly been signed by the San Francisco 49ers. There he’ll re-join former Browns special teams coach under Eric Mangini, Brad Seely. It’s Cleveland Browns football, so talking about special teamers isn’t below us at all.1

Ventrone (and his flowing locks of hair) were a pleasure to watch on special teams over the last four seasons. He’ll also be re-united with Phil Dawson, who joined the 49ers this off-season as well as the recently hired consultant Eric Mangini.

No word on whether or not signing Ventrone was Mangini’s first bit of consulting as a member of the organization.

I’m kidding.

Kind of.


Our own TD has written multiple posts about The Core Four consisting of Jason Trusnik, Nick Sorenson, Ray Ventrone and Blake Costanzo. The “Tribute” is probably the most memorable.

[Related: Eric Mangini joins San Francisco 49ers]



  1. Yet? … How about now? []

NFL News: San Francisco hires Eric Mangini as consultant

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini is officially back in the NFL: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports this afternoon that the San Francisco 49ers organization has hired the 42-year-old as the team’s Senior Offensive Consultant.

Mangini has been out of the NFL since being fired by the Browns following the 2010 season. He had a 10-22 record in his two seasons with the club, then was replaced by Pat Shurmur, who last just two seasons. Mangini also was 23-25 in his three previous years with the New York Jets.

Most recently, Mangini has been serving as an analyst for ESPN, where he had been receiving very positive reviews both on TV and radio. But previously this offseason, there had been some murmurs of the possibility of him returning to the NFL in some official capacity, with the 49ers as a likely fit.

Mangini will be joining former Browns kicker Phil Dawson and backup quarterback Colt McCoy in the city by the bay.

[Related: Eric Mangini: TV and Radio Star?]

Colt McCoy on 49ers: “We want to win, and we want to win now.”

Former Browns quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers backup QB Colt McCoy said that he would “always be grateful” to the Browns organization, but his tune is a little different lately.

In a article by Marc Sessler, it’s communiated that McCoy says things are quite different in San Francisco, who made it to the Super Bowl last year, than Cleveland.

“When I walked in the building in San Francisco, it was the same feel (as at the University of Texas),” McCoy told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Saturday. “It’s a great organization, and their only focus is: We want to win, and we want to win now. That’s obviously different than some of the things that I’ve been part of the last few years. I was really happy about that.”

McCoy played in 24 games (21 starts) for the Browns over three seasons, throwing for 4,388 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions with a career passer rating of 74.8. He was a third round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, but he was replaced by rookie Brandon Weeden last season as the team’s starter. McCoy was traded earlier this month to the Niners along with a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft for fifth and seventh round selections.

Related: Former Brown Ricky Feacher Arrested In Florida

NFL News: Cleveland Browns trade Colt McCoy to San Francisco 49ers

Jason LaCanfora reports that the Browns have traded former third-round draft pick Colt McCoy to the San Francisco 49ers.

So there’s the other shoe to drop after the signing of Jason Campbell. The Cleveland Browns have seemingly simplified one potential angle on a quarterback controversy by trading the oft-popular QB from Texas who bemoaned the lack of opportunity to compete last pre-season.

The San Francisco 49ers came into this draft season with a ton of picks–as many as 13 at one point. Details of the Browns’ compensation for McCoy aren’t available yet, but Twitter rumors indicate it might be a sixth rounder. With McCoy’s somewhat modest salary of $2.325 million for 2013 he becomes a pretty economical backup to replace the recently-traded Alex Smith.

Prior to the trade the San Francisco 49ers had:
- One 1st rounder
-  Two 2nds
-  Two 3rds
- Two 4ths
- Two 5ths
- One 6th
- Four 7th rounders in the 2013 draft.

The leader in the clubhouse in the jokes department is easily Zac Jackson, by the way…

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-01 – Dennis Manoloff talks charities, Weeden and NFL draft]

NFL Free Agency Rumor: Ed Reed to the 49ers?

As the news gets worse for Baltimore Ravens fans, it could continue to get better for Browns fans. Albert Breer reported on Twitter that Ed Reed hired an agent, and now Pro Football Talk is reporting that that agent might help him get to San Francisco.

I could call the 34-year-old Reed a “Browns killer,” except that Reed has been a pain for opposing quarterbacks and receivers in all jerseys in his career. It just hits especially close to home with how careful the Browns quarterbacks have been with Reed in the opposite defensive backfield, even going so far as to name him this season.

Earlier in February Ozzie Newsome said that he and the Ravens wanted Ed Reed back and that they thought Reed wanted to be back too. Even then, Ozzie knew that Reed would have options. That was also before the Ravens got Joe Flacco locked up to a historically high-priced deal.

The Ravens knew they would need some re-tooling after their Super Bowl season because of the aging roster, but it might be an especially rude awakening to have so much turnover in a season where they might hope to defend the title. With departures like Anquan Boldin, a retiring Ray Lewis and now maybe Ed Reed, a title defense could prove that much more difficult.

Meanwhile, the 49ers are looking to avenge their Super Bowl loss at the expense of the Ravens. That’s good for Browns fans. Well, that is unless the Browns miraculously find a way to meet them in the Super Bowl.

[Related: NFL News: Baltimore Ravens trade Anquan Boldin to San Francisco 49ers]


NFL News: Baltimore Ravens trade Anquan Boldin to San Francisco 49ers

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports (by way of PFT for us) that the Baltimore Ravens have traded Anquan Boldin across the country for a sixth-round pick.

While many Browns fans will be upset that the Browns didn’t get this deal, it is a pretty good  bet that they never would have had the option to make a trade like that within the division. Considering the lofty numbers associated with Mike Wallace, Anquan Boldin’s $6 million salary figure looks pretty reasonable right about now.

All the talk of the Ravens wanting Boldin to take a pay cut were crazy, after all. With the market for receivers developing the way it has this off-season, there was no way Boldin would face a pay cut unless he thought the market for his services would have guaranteed him a smaller sum than $6 million. Even if he wanted to continue to play in Baltimore, there’s little doubt that had he been cut, he would have been able to replicate his financial future, if not improve it.

The only bright spot here for Browns fans is that they won’t have to see the former Eric Wright killer twice a year anymore in divisional match-ups.

[Related: Mike Wallace should give the Browns pause]

The Browns’ dive into analytics will be a subtle revolution

Scheiner and Morey

Alec Scheiner (left) of the Browns chats with Daryl Morey

This weekend I was at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics (#SSAC13) conference where new Browns president Alec Scheiner was busy observing and participating in discussion panels. Scheiner wasn’t alone either. As many as three other Browns staffers were rumored to be on hand this weekend for the festivities that Bill Simmons dubbed “dorkapalooza.” So the “analytics revolution” has arrived in Berea. But, what exactly does that mean?

One of the biggest themes of the weekend in Boston was not about whether analytics is good or not, but how to make it most useful in sports organizations. The panels were rife with stories by some brilliant people about mistakes committed by the “stats geeks” where they were unable to effectively communicate their message to the more traditional stakeholders in their various sports organizations. We heard stories of ultra complex PowerPoint presentations and other missteps that set back the relationships between departments that sometimes have trouble working together, despite working toward the same goals.

[Read more...]

San Francisco to send QB Alex Smith to Kansas City per reports

Last weekend it was reported that an ‘unidentified team’ had a deal in place for San Francisco QB Alex Smith. Today, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that the team is indeed the Kansas City Chiefs.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has more details about the deal:

“Chiefs traded second-round pick, the second pick in the second round, to SF. Niners also got another conditional mid-round pick in 2014.”

“SF now owns picks at No. 31, 34, and 61 in a draft with lots of depth but not a lot of surefire stars.”

Those wishing the Browns would make a move for the veteran QB can now focus their attention elsewhere.

[Related: I don't feel like it, but let's talk Browns]

NFL Rumor: Unknown team has trade in place for Alex Smith

Combine news was all over Twitter during the daytime on Sunday, but then CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora just recently dropped this quarterback news-bomb on the world:

With Colin Kaepernick fully entrenched as San Francisco’s long-term starter, it’s certainly logical why Alex Smith’s name has been all over the rumor mill thus far this offseason. The former Utah Utes star who turns 29 years old in May was a solid yet unspectacular starter for the 49ers for the vast majority of time since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2005. But he has a lot of NFL experience and many teams might consider him a safer option than utilizing an early draft pick on a QB.

Previously today, we saw the reported rumors from that the Kansas City Chiefs were indeed very interested in Smith — along with drafting OT Luke Joeckel with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Ian Rapoport wrote: “But word is starting to leak of their interest in the San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback. At this point, based on what I’m hearing, Kansas City has shown more interest than anyone else in dealing for a quarterback who could step in and start from Day 1 while the rest of the franchise is rebuilt.”

Also this week in Smith news, the 49ers publicly declared that they would be unlikely to release the quarterback outright. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith would either be traded or remain with the team throughout the offseason, and only if no suitable trading partner was found, would then he potentially be released.

For now, the Browns are likely in the next tier of possible contenders for Smith’s long-term services. The Chiefs are probably the odds-on favorite for the team that La Canfora was referring to, with the Jaguars and Browns among several teams that also could be on the large overall list of teams with quarterback needs.

Update at 6:30 p.m. Sunday: Jaguars beat writer Ryan O’Halloran, who was just on his way back from Indianapolis and the combine, tweeted out this bit moments ago. He reports the Jags are not the team with this deal in place:

Update at 7:55 p.m. Sunday: Mary Kay Cabot has the latest on the Cleveland side of things. According to her source, the Browns are not this team.

[Related: NFL News: Chudzinski “excited” about Weeden, still needs to see more]

Parallel Universes: Super Bowl XLVII and the ’87 AFC Championship Game

Earnest BynerLook on the bright side….Art Modell didn’t make the Hall of Fame and Ray Lewis will never play another football game.

The Super Bowl was a fascinating and superb game last night. I can’t imagine not being able to enjoy that event as a pure football fan. The play on the field was very reminiscent of the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos, affectionately known as “The Fumble.”

Just like the Ravens did last night, the Broncos, behind a host of Browns turnovers various lapses in judgement, jumped all over the Browns from the start. On the Browns first possession, Webster Slaughter let a pass go through his hands and off his knee on a crossing route, right into the arms of Denver’s Freddie Gilbert. John Elway hit Ricky Nattiel for a TD pass and in the blink of an eye, the Browns trailed 7-0. On the next series, Kevin Mack, grinding for extra yards, was stripped of the ball with Denver recovering. The Browns thought they had the bleeding stopped, but a defensive holding penalty on third and goal, gave the Broncos first and goal at the one and Steve Sewell scored a touchdown to put the Browns in a 14-0 hole on the road in a hostile Mile High Stadium. [Read more...]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-21 – Craig and Denny talk Lance Armstrong, Te’o, the Internets and leaving them

WFNY Podcast LogoI find myself looking for reasons to have certain people on the podcast and Denny is one of those people. This time we middled around the Lance Armstrong topic for a bit before getting into some more overarching themes about the Internet, culture, media, etc. A great conversation as always even if it ended up someplace completely different than Lance Armstrong.

  • Denny’s NYC Marathon as a part of team Livestrong
  • Doping and cheating… What is cheating?
  • Is Craig a cheater using something like Jack3d from GNC?
  • How culture deals with storylines and the hunger for better ones
  • Manti Te’o and parallels between his deception and Lance Armstrong
  • Destinations vs. the trips it took to arrive at them
  • Time spent online vs. time spent off the grid
  • Appreciating time while you have it and not bemoaning its loss when it’s gone

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NFL News: Browns ask permission to interview 49ers Tom Gamble

Albert Breer is reporting that the Browns along with the Jets, Jags and Chargers are pursuing the San Francisco 49ers’ director of player personnel, Tom Gamble.

Gamble has already interviewed with the Jaguars but competition from the Jets might be strongest of all according to NinersNation. According to their information the Jets have put Gamble at the top of their wishlist based on a recommendation from former Colts President Bill Polian.

[Related: Browns’ exhaustive coaching search is refreshing]