There’s just something impossibly bizarre about the Cleveland Browns franchise since it returned to the NFL 20 years ago. Even in victory, over a long-time rival in an important game, it somehow manages to find a way to embarrass its city and its fans.
Last night’s win over Pittsburgh, and the dangerous brawl and helmet-swinging episode that occurred as the game ended, reaches a new low for the Browns. If the incident weren’t so thuggish and savage and physically hazardous, it would almost be comical — the perfect demonstration of how the Browns inevitably snatch utter humiliation from the jaws of victory.
I have no desire to pile on Myles Garrett, the player who swung the helmet at the opposing quarterback’s head. Garrett has apologized, and I have no doubt that his apology is heartfelt. But there’s a big difference between losing your cool and doing something that could have caused catastrophic injury. Somehow, for some reason, this year’s version of the Browns lacks the discipline to restrain on-the-field behavior and keep it in the proper channels. There have been lots of penalties, and personal fouls, and then last night’s assault reaches new depths of egregious misconduct.
What’s wrong with this team? Is it coaching? Is it lack of leadership, or players who will set the right tone? Whatever it is, something really needs to change. The Browns have more than a week before they play their next game. I hope everyone involved in the organization, from players to top management, are doing some soul-searching today, and giving some serious through to how they can fundamentally, and permanently, change the culture of this team and this franchise. If they don’t, the ranks of Browns Backers are going to grow a lot smaller, and quickly.