On the second floor of the Tower City Mall in downtown Cleveland, there lies an empty shop. The room, now all cleared out, used to be Football Town, a large store containing you-name-it-we've-got-it Cleveland sports memorabilia.
For those who never saw it, it was one heck of a place to get your Browns gear. However, according to a Tower City employee, Football Town saw such a steep decline in business during the end of last season it was forced to close.
While this statement may mean little to some, it does say this; Browns fans are showing their displeasure in more ways than one these days.
And why not? Let's take a gander at our offseason so far.
First, within a month or two of Eric Mangini and George Kokinis' hiring, all-pro tackle Shaun Rogers threw a hissy fit about weight management and being stiffed by Mangini. Then, the new regime dealt two reliable yet iffy offensive weapons in Kellen Winslow and Joe Jurevicius.
Top that with Donte' Stallworth running down the innocent in the streets of Miami and there's not too much to get excited about.
Now, with Jay Cutler doing his best impression of a 16-year-old girl, trade rumors are flowing throughout the NFL, some of which include Browns quarterback Brady Quinn. My opinion is that this is a very dangerous idea.
Let me first state the position of this article. If you have read some of my past articles, you know I'm quite the Quinn supporter. However, this is not meant to be another piece where I return to my duties as a Brady flag-carrier. No, this will be strictly from a Browns fan's perspective.
And from that perspective I repeat my previous statement: Trading Brady Quinn is not safe.
One reason is how Quinn stands among a large amount of Browns followers. To them, he's the future, a Browns fan who grew up watching the team and wants his shot to turn them around.
While he's only played three games, none of which were stunning performances, he still showed a sense of poise and leadership that was more than appreciated. They believe he hasn't gotten a fair chance to prove himself worthy of the draft picks given up to take him.
Many of those same fans are sick of Derek Anderson, some of which disgustingly cheered during his season-ending injury. There are a few supporters who still back Anderson, but the majority of Browns fans wouldn't really be willing to pay to see him lead the team in '09.
This leads me to the biggest issue for the Browns. Unless you live under a rock or have boycotted every news source known to man (both of which may have been caused by choosing to be a Browns fan in the first place,) you know the economy is tanking.
A poor economy leads to people being tight with money, only spending it on things that are worthwhile.
Now, with last season trying to rival said stock market when it comes to crashing, you can certainly count on shorter lines for season ticket renewal. Fans are putting locks on their wallets, and that, combined with last season's epic disaster, makes for a tricky situation.
In times like these, the Browns organization needs to convince paying fans that there's hope for the future, or else seats are going to be empty and the dog pound will be all too quiet this season.
If the new regime were to trade Brady Quinn, getting rid of one of the few fan favorites left on the team, you could all but guarantee a severe fan backlash.
Trading him for draft picks or a Bronco quarterback prone to temper tantrums could splinter the fanbase into people who hate the team without Quinn, people who are glad Anderson gets his shot back, and people who've spent years saying "if they get rid of (fill in blank here,) I'm rooting for a new team" finally fulfilling that promise.
It may seem trivial to some GM's and coaches, but it's time for Mangini and Kokinis to keep the fans in mind. Sure they're trying to recreate the team's identity, but this will be all but useless if nobody's there to see it perform.
At this point, with ManKok already spreading doubt throughout Cleveland, dealing Quinn wouldn't be a wise choice if they're expecting the support to come in droves on Sundays.
While its a bit unfair to Derek Anderson, the truth of the matter is his struggles in '08 really damaged the idea of fans wanting to pay to see him as the team's starter. And if the organization is factoring in the business side of football, Brady Quinn is someone who affects whether or not people will want to buy Browns tickets this year.
So, as the draft approaches and the NFL trade market starts to heat up, ManKok needs to put serious thought in the moves they make. Right now, from the standpoint of the fans, Cleveland's new staff is treading on thin ice.
If they were to trade Quinn, it'd be more like treading with cement shoes.