As we prepare for another year of NFL football, let's take a look back at the highs and lows from 2014 for each team. Welcome to NFL Dos and Don'ts. If you missed one, you can read all our recaps right here.
The Browns are just one of those teams who can't seem to get out of their own way. In many ways, it goes all the way to back to the team name, which originated from first coach and general manager, Paul Brown. He didn't want to name the franchise the Browns. But after a failed attempt to name them the Panthers, Brown eventually relented and accepted that he would be coaching a football team named after himself, and also named after the drabbest sounding—and drabbest looking—color.
Subsequently, former Browns owner Art Modell, who purchased the team in 1961 and then fired Paul Brown two years later, stole the team from Cleveland and moved it to Baltimore, renamed it the Ravens and got some regal color involved. The Ravens have since won two Super Bowls, and Cleveland got a brand new franchise (but got to keep all its history and records) and still called it the Browns. The team has not won a Championship since 1964. Notice we didn't say "Super Bowl" because the Super Bowl had not yet existed the last time they won.
All of this can make for a moribund franchise and fanbase. But maybe they showed some glimmer of hope last season. Now, you're not going to hitch your wagon to Johnny Manziel's star—you might wind up with a suspended license—but the Cleveland Browns should Do more of this with him.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, this play was apparently illegal. It was whistled dead because of an illegal shift from running back Terrence West, But after the game, the NFL said it would have been illegal regardless for unsportsmanlike conduct. Officials pointed to this section from the rule book, which defines unsportsmanlike conduct as: "Using entering substitutes, legally returning players, substitutes on sidelines, or withdrawn players to confuse opponents, including lingering by players leaving the field after being replaced by a substitute and an offensive player lining up or going in motion less than five yards from the sideline in front of his team's designated bench area."
Having Manziel gesticulating along the sideline as if he's upset with getting pulled would definitely fall under this rule. While that is a bummer, there is a silver lining: keep getting imaginative, Browns. You dropped the ball with your name, but that won't matter if you're blowing people's minds with never-before-seen plays and formations. Do push the envelope.
Remember how we were just talking about creativity and taking risks back there? Obviously you shouldn't take risks just to take risks—the risk should be calculated with a payoff worth the gamble should you fail—but you should also consider the reaction when you take no risk on something fairly trivial.
This right here is a waste of time—Don't do it. I promise you your traffic cone orange in no way matches the passion of your fans and city; I believe you when you say the brown is unchanged. Don't announce you are overhauling your uniforms and then trot out a bunch of images that show you really only tweaked the saturation and tint levels on your current uniforms. Oh, the Dawg from the Dawg Pound is angrier? Wonderful news, Browns. My passion burns neon orange for these developments. Me and my buddies are going to nearest freight train graveyard and make rust angels to celebrate. You're the fucking Browns, your fans are dying for any glimmer of hope—just one damned reason to pay attention to your franchise, which has only ever brought them pain—and the best you can come up with is Radioactive Orange and a snaggle-toothed Dawg.