UPDATE: Shurmur elaborates on comments
One wonders what Jimmy Haslam is thinking these days, and how closely he follows the Browns and how deeply he dives into what he’s following.
Given he’s spending a billion dollars for a ragamuffin football team, one would think pretty closely.
If he is he may have noticed a statement from coach Pat Shurmur on Wednesday that, assuming Haslam has any knowledge and understanding about the Browns and their fans, might have raised his eyebrows.
Now … any one statement should be kept in perspective.
Coaches are asked about 25 questions a day, and sometimes they don’t answer perfectly. But … they also are the main voice from the team to the fans, so their answers can’t be ignored. (In the interest of candor, I must admit I was not present today because of a doctor’s appointment, so I’m going off the transcript.)
Asked if he would encourage the team to watch the NFL Network’s special documentary on the 1995 season, the year when you-know-who announced the team was moving to Baltimore and the turmoil that followed, Shurmur had this to say (according to the transcript):
“We’re going to have to catch up on that after the season. I think this time of year, you don’t have much time to read books and watch movies. I’ll be made aware of what goes on in that special this evening. I think the history of the organization is important. I think it’s important that our guys have a feel for who the great players were that played here. As we move forward, I’m more concerned about the 2012 Browns right now. Again, the first part of your question was, ‘I know you’re worried about right now,’ and you’re right.”
Perhaps this is no big deal, but the special is an hour, sixty minutes. A well-known TV show that lasts that long has been wildly successful. In the course of the normal five-day work week, 60 minutes is 1.25 percent of the average individual’s awake time, assuming a person sleeps eight hours.
And watching this particular show could have been beneficial to the modern players, many of whom were toddlers or preteens when the move took place. It could have helped them understand the fans, the team and its history. It might have even been motivating.
But according to Shurmur, “you don’t have much time to read books and watch movies” this time of year.
Perhaps he means between work and family there isn’t much time to simply kick back.
Which may be true. Shurmur is a good family man, a good Dad.
But if he means that all his time is taken up by football, then there’s a perspective thing going on. Because it falls into this NFL trap that a guy can only be successful if he spends 19 or 20 hours per day watching tape or going over gameplans.
Coaches are well able to work a normal eight-hour day, but NFL guys seem to think they have to be there until 2 or 3 in the morning and start work again at 6, that there is no point of diminishing returns.
A wise assistant coach (no longer with the Browns) who followed the long-hours regime actually admitted once that by Friday the staff had a hard time focusing.
Chuck Noll went home to eat with his wife every night. He did pretty well.
If there is no time to read a book or watch an hour-long show, perhaps a reassessment is in order to make time.
But the answer also sounds like a casual dismissal of the passion of the fans and the connection that this city once had with its team.
That connection has been missing since 1999.
Since the team returned, there has been a large disconnect between the fans and this team. Not winning has hurt, but bigger issues come into play.
This offseason the Browns had a news conference to discuss a contract extension the same day as the Chardon school shooting. The extension was worth celebrating, but it could have waited a day. Because while immense grief was taking place in one part of the community the Browns were publicly patting themselves on the back.
That’s just one example.
Another recent one was Greg Little saying on Twitter he didn’t care what fans thought.
It harkens back to Butch Davis telling fans to “get a life.”
The Browns do a lot in the community, but since ‘99, for whatever reason, they are not part of the community.
Fans hate it, but it’s different in Pittsburgh. There, guys settle in and are part of the fabric. Coach Mike Tomlin lives in the city, not the suburbs. Chairman emeritus and former owner Dan Rooney walked to games as recently as a few years ago.
In Cleveland, players have valet parking and fans can’t even be told the most rudimentary facts about a player’s injury.
The last Brown to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was Ozzie Newsome. When he gave his speech, the team’s owner and president were back in Berea.
In 1995, the heart of this city was sliced open.
The NFL Network’s documentary showed the pain and the trauma of that move. It’s a bit Cleveland-ish to want to relive that year of agony, but there was a documentary and it was worth watching.
The show detailed the bond between the city and team, a bond that has not been present since — despite the best efforts of many people.
To dismiss it and say there’s no time for books and movies at this time of the year might be accurate in a coach’s mind, but that mind clearly is not thinking much beyond the walls in Berea.
The show meant something to this city, and to the people in the city. What happened in 1995 helps define who the Browns are, and why feelings about the team and things related to the team are the way they are.
To say, too, that the present team should have “a feel” for the great players of the past … the present team should embrace the past, embrace the greats. It’s part of who the Browns are.
A few years back, linebacker Andra Davis as a rookie said the Steelers game was “just another game” to him. After experiencing two Steelers games, he came to the media on his own and said he was wrong and that he understood it wasn’t just another game.
For all that didn’t work under Chris Palmer, the one thing he got was the team’s history — he beat the Steelers twice in two years.
Andra Davis should never have been put in that position to say what he did. It was up to the team and its leadership to make it clear to players what the team’s history was, and what it meant.
Touting it but not living it is mere lip service.
Shurmur has a lot on his plate, and there’s no doubt he understands the Browns history.
But to say he’ll “catch up” on such a vital part of the team’s history and experience after the season?
That’s a tough one to grasp.