As Cleveland fans become giddy with excitement about the monstrous season the Cavaliers are having, along with the optimism surrounding the upcoming Indians season (it's an odd numbered year, after all), there's still one local team that still leaves them more than a little frustrated.
Yes, where a Clevelander can look down Ontario Street at the giant Nike Witness banner with pride, that same person sees the empty stadium on the shores of Lake Erie and probably dies a little inside.
So far, the new regime has made Shaun Rogers tear up about not being greeted, traded away the only guy on offense who could catch, and done...well, absolutely nothing in free agency.
It would seem as though there's not much to bring the fans in by the thousands for the 2009 season.
However, amid all of the issues this new regime is drudging up, every now and then you're reminded that there are still a few stand-up players on the Cleveland Browns. Case in point: kick returner/wide receiver/I'll-play-wherever-you-need-me guy, Josh Cribbs.
Recently, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Cribbs, curious about new coach Eric Mangini and, to quote the man, "wondering who I was going to bleed for this year," left his own home to go to Berea and meet Mangini himself.
Can we pause the story for just a second? I feel the need to reiterate the above-mentioned statement.
Cribbs wanted to get to know the coach, so, by his own choice, he got up and went to Berea and introduced himself. Are you listening Rogers?
Moving on, after talking with Mangini for a good 30-40 minutes, Cribbs says he believes the coach is a winner and can get the job done in Cleveland. Furthermore, he claimed, "Guys you might say could try to run over a coach—that's not going to happen with him. He's going to weed out those guys, if they exist. There's a new sheriff in town."
More intriguing was what the "Mangenius" told Cribbs in regards to how he planned on using him in the new system.
According to Cribbs, Mangini expressed his desire to use him all over the field, which included defensive back. Say what you want about Mangini, but this seems like a solid idea.
Why not take one of the most talented players on the team, someone who has proven to be an excellent and effective tackler on special teams, and put him on defense?
Cribbs' response? He simply told the coach, "Use me as much as you can."
But with fellow teammate Rogers taking issue with the fact that Mangini won't be nearly as much of an easy-going pushover as his former coach, how will Cribbs handle the new authority?
"Coach Mangini brings a lot of discipline. If that's going to help us and bring a winning attitude here, then so be it. If I have to get used to it, I have to get used to it. I'll do anything to win.''
I'm assuming by now you can see the reasoning behind my article's headline.
With one of last season's many discouraging headlines being how undisciplined the Browns were, and how often the players became whiny prima donnas, fans were curious as to how ugly it would get when the unstoppable force of unaccountable millionaires collided with the immovable object that is a hard nosed coach.
Hearing something like this is definitely a perk. You have one of the few Browns players who can actually say he had a good season last year, yet he's still putting the team before himself, telling people he'll do whatever it takes to bring a winner to Cleveland.
No crying to sports writers about how hard it's going to be having to follow rules, no screaming about how he wants out of town now that fun Uncle Crennel is gone, just a great player willing to do whatever he can to make the fans proud.
And this alone can make Browns supporters at least a little hopeful for the future.
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