Midseason Wars: Return of the Cleveland Browns
What a crazy week it’s been, especially for Cleveland.
First the Browns get a win at home on Sunday.
Then the Indians announced that they would be keeping Sandy Alomar as bench coach, to the odd delight of many fans.
The Cavaliers opened their season with a win at home on Tuesday that saw Kyrie Irving drop 29 points and Anderson Varejao grab 23 rebounds.
The Indians on Wednesday waved goodbye to former fan-favorite Travis Hafner and his overpaid, underperforming 75 games a season.
Of course, the most important event of the week was Disney buying Lucasfilm and announcing that a new Star Wars movie was coming out in 2015.
I don’t care how “bad” the last three movies were. I can’t wait to get over-hyped for the next three.
Why does this relate to the Browns, you say? I’m getting to that. Don't worry.
The Browns are at the midpoint of the season, and this is when most writers will break out the “mid-season grades” or hand out “mid-season awards” but I wanted to go in a different direction.
This week I’m going to re-cast, the Star Wars franchise with players from the Cleveland Browns organization. Some are good, some are great, others aren't so awesome. Let’s get to it.
Luke Skywalker: Trent Richardson
This one seemed like a no-brainer to me.
The first Star Wars film is entitled “A New Hope” which references Skywalker. In a dark time in the empire, Luke is the one who is destined to bring “peace and justice back to the galaxy.”
Much like Richardson, Luke had some ups and downs as his “career” was getting going. His new droid was infected with a secret message, then ran away, then he got knocked out by sand people, then his aunt and uncle got killed, then he got attacked in the cantina, then they got captured by the Death Star, then his mentor got whacked…rough start for poor Luke.
Richardson has also had a rough start. It started when he missed all of preseason after having knee surgery. The first half of the season hasn’t exactly been great for the Browns' top pick. He’s had a couple of good games, but has also had a couple crappers, and is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry (31st in the NFL).
He does have five touchdowns though, and despite a rib injury still looks like an absolute athletic freak who could one day be the best running back in the league.
Richardson is without a doubt Cleveland’s “hope" for a brighter future.
Han Solo: Brandon Weeden
He’s an older guy, but still young at heart, and he has had some failures in his back-story. A gunslinger by nature, he likes to shoot first and ask questions later.
But make no mistake: he is a leader.
We could be talking about both guys, no?
While Skywalker/Richardson gets a lot of attention as being the lead guy/top draft pick, everyone knows that Solo/Weeden is just as vital to the success of the team, maybe even more so at times.
Now if we have Weeden as Han Solo that naturally leads to…
Chewbacca: Joe Thomas
He’s the big, subtly athletic beast that watches the gunslinger’s back. Just like a quarterback isn’t much without a great left tackle, Had Solo wouldn’t be much without his co-pilot.
I also think that both Chewy and Thomas got a lot of credit for being great early on, but over time they’ve been taken for granted and are now a little underrated.
And I suppose if Weeden is Han Solo and Thomas is Chewbacca, that would make the Dawg Pound the Millennium Falcon, right?
Just go with it.
(My wife helped me out brainstorming for this list. This was far and away her best contribution. It’s just perfect.)
Yoda: Jim Brown
He’s the old legend, maybe the greatest of all time at his craft. In his old age, he was first tough and then critical on the young, new kid.
But when the young star began to show promise, he poured all of his wisdom and knowledge into the protégé, in the hopes that he would lead the team back to the heights that the elder experienced.
Let’s hope this works out for the Browns as well as it did for Yoda and Skywalker.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Bernie Kosar
Like Obi-Wan, Bernie was a young star in his own time and was revered amongst his peers and fans. But their time on the top was relatively short-lived and ended unceremoniously.
For Obi-Wan, it was the empire falling apart, the mass-murder of all the Jedi and having his sidekick and best friend turn to the dark side. For Kosar it was being cut by Bill Belichick.
Although they both went through difficulty late in life, they still had a chance in old age to impact the youth practicing their craft.
Darth Vader: Bill Belichick
I’ll admit this one isn’t my favorite, but it’s the best I could come up with. Obviously Belichick, like Vader, was once on the right side (coaching the Browns) until things went terribly wrong and Cleveland lost the Browns.
Belichick, while not the primary culprit, became the face of evil to many fans and is still greatly hated by many in Cleveland.
Belichick, of course, went on to great success in New England, winning three Super Bowls, kind of like Vader blew up a couple planets and killed millions of people. (It’s a stretch, I know.)
Emperor Palpatine: Art Modell
They're evil, terrible people who did a lot of awful things. For Palpatine it was wiping out the Jedi and over-throwing the Republic, establishing himself as the supreme emperor. For Modell it was moving one of the most iconic franchises in sports to another city and stabbing the Cleveland fans in the back.
R2-D2: Joshua Cribbs
Clutch, jack-of-all-trades, team player and fan favorite...all characteristics of both Cribbs and R2-D2. You could also make the case that R2-D2 is a "special teamer."
Both guys (and I use that term very loosely, obviously) also get beat up a lot but, keep trucking along doing their thing with excellence. And they both have been known to whine a little.
C-3PO: Phil Dawson
I don't really know why, mostly just because I couldn't come up with anyone else. Like the Cribbs/R2 connection, both Dawson and C-3PO are "special teamers." Dawson has also been with the team longer than anyone else, and 3PO is only one of a handful of characters to appear in every film. So there's that.
Wicket: Josh Cooper
It's pretty obvious that I'm just going with the short guy thing here, right? Both Wicket and Cooper are also considered a lot cooler and get more fan respect than they probably deserve.
Not saying it's their fault or anything, I like both of them fine. But they are a little overrated. (Just being honest.)
Padme Amidala: Brady Quinn
If Colt McCoy is Princess Leia, it's only natural that Quinn would be Padme. They both had a glamorous start (Padme as a queen, Quinn going to Notre Dame) but had about as rough an ending as possible (Padme's husband turned the universe upside down and killed millions of people, then she died in childbirth, and Quinn has never had much of a shot in the NFL and is always injured).
But hey, they're both pretty, so they've got that going for them.
Darth Maul: Joe Haden
I know that Darth Maul is a bad guy, but I can't get past how good Haden would be in that role. Darth Maul, also a shorter guy, is an absolute physical freak. His speed and quickness are almost unmatched by anyone.
And there's nothing really wrong with defensive players playing bad guy roles. That's what the NFL paints them anyway, right?
Also look at Darth Maul's eyes. He's got to be on drugs or something.
Boba Fett: T.J. Ward
Another bad guy that's also a fan favorite. I always thought Boba Fett was the coolest. He had the jet pack and could fly around and was a tough dude.
Also, he was a bounty hunter, and I don't necessarily want to get into any murky waters or anything, but Ward has been known to lay a stick or two. Just ask Jordan Shipley.
Lando Calrissian: Josh Gordon
I won't spend a lot of time on this one. Lando is Han Solo's buddy, and he's a really good pilot. He gets himself into trouble sometimes and likes to fly fast. He's also not a fan of bounty hunters.
(I'll admit, they're not all winners.)
Wedge Antilles: Chris Ogbonnaya
If you had any doubt about how much of a nerd I am, you're fully convinced now.
Wedge is Luke Skywalker's buddy, who is also a fighter pilot and one of the leaders of Rogue Squadron. Kind of like Luke's wing man I suppose. He also helped blow up the second Death Star, so you know that he's at least nominally important.
Well, Ogbonnaya is Richardson's third-down replacement and at times is in the same backfield with him, so they both work together well and play the same position on the team. It works, trust me.
Jar Jar Binks: Owen Marecic
Because they're both worthless.
OK, that's all I've got.
I hope you enjoyed that at least as much as the movie critics enjoyed Episode III. (If you have any issues or changes you'd like to make to my selections, you can let me know in the comments section.)
You can follow Benjamin Flack on Twitter @ClevelandFlack.
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