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Old 01-11-2009, 05:02 PM   #1
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Default Browns Tradition of Winning: MYTH!


Pat's Beside the Point: Browns' tradition has faded to myth By Patrick McManamon
Beacon Journal sports columnist
POSTED: 08:25 a.m. EST, Jan 11, 2009
One of the first things coach Eric Mangini addressed when he was hired was the great tradition of the Browns.
Everyone does that when they come to Cleveland.
But it's time to stop. Because the tradition is a myth, and it engenders nothing but unrealistic expectations that make bad situations worse.
Except for a couple of stretches, the Browns' great tradition has been dormant since the NFL-AFL merger in 1971.
The numbers in 36 seasons clearly show that fact:
A won-lost record of 248-301-3 since the merger, which is winning 45 percent of the time.
An average record each season of 7-8.
Fourteen winning seasons out of 36.
Eleven playoff teams, meaning the Browns have made the playoffs less than one-third of the time.
There was success in the Sam Rutigliano and Marty Schottenheimer era, but since Schottenheimer left things have been worse:
A 102-169-1 record (wins in 37.5 percent of the games).
Four winning seasons in 17.
Three playoff teams out of 17 seasons.
Six coaches, including Mangini.
Since 1990, the Browns have been in the playoffs twice, going 1-2. That's three playoff games in 18 years (three without football).
That's an entire generation that has grown up without a winning team, with nothing but talk of Otto Graham and Jim Brown and Paul Warfield.
Former General Manager Phil Savage talked about putting some of those great memories into color when he arrived, and he was right. Most of them are in black and white.
The Browns had an unbelievable tradition in the 1950s when Graham and Marion Motley played and Paul Brown was coach. It continued with Jim Brown and Frank Ryan and Blanton Collier in the '60s.
Since, though, it has been a series of missteps, with the occasional blip of good fortune.
They're one of very few teams that never has been to a Super Bowl, and their overall playoff record is 11-20.
This is tradition only to those who believe that the past can magically appear merely because the helmet is orange and the jersey brown. It's the same thinking that said Bill Cowher would walk through hot coals to coach the team merely because it's the Browns.
It's just not there anymore.
And it's time to recognize that this Browns team is not your grandfather's team.
These Browns are in a position where they have to earn the faith and trust of the fans paying the tickets.
Perhaps the fans are starting to recognize that reality. During a recent Trans Siberian Orchestra show at Quicken Loans Arena, lead guitarist Chris Caffery appeared to cheers when he wore an Indians jersey.
When he removed it he was wearing a Browns jersey. The crowd booed. At an event where people were there to have fun, there were so many boos Caffery had to say: ''This isn't polite.''
Fans will return, of course. They always do. But it's time the team produced, and perhaps the hiring of Mangini will produce long-expected results.
Tradition doesn't win a single game.
Winning generates tradition.
That's where the Browns find themselves: Needing to win to generate some new and true tradition.
The cult of the Browns has been living off a myth. The team's tradition died in a time long ago and far away.
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