Friday, May 20, 2011

Fact checking 101

For a head coach in the National Football League, Pat Shurmur of the Browns is a lousy historian. He needs to check facts before he speaks.

For example, he said the following about what the Browns did in the college draft when speaking to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Club luncheon crowd recently in Canton:

“I think we did great. I don’t care what anybody says. But we obviously started off . . . by making a historic trade, probably one of the greatest in draft history when we traded with the Falcons . . . because we felt we needed help in areas and based on the talent, based on what other teams around us were going to do and based on what we needed, we felt that was the perfect thing to do.”

He was referring, of course, to the five picks the Browns received from Atlanta that allowed the Falcons to move up to the sixth slot in the first round and draft wide receiver Julio Jones.

First of all, in the annals of draft trades, the greatness of this one doesn’t even come close, although greatness is nothing more than a state of mind. Probably one of the greatest in draft history? Probably not.

That one still belongs to the Los Angeles Rams, who sent 11 players (a veritable football team) to the fledgling Dallas Texans for linebacker Les Richter in 1952. Richter, who played nine seasons, was a Pro Bowler in his first eight campaigns. He will be inducted posthumously into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

And when it comes to historic trades, the Browns and Baltimore Colts were in the middle of that one. Cleveland coach Paul Brown shipped 10 players to the Colts following the 1953 draft in exchange for five players. Included in the Cleveland group headed to Baltimore were cornerbacks (and native Clevelanders) Don Shula and Carl Taseff, placekicker Bert Rechichar and linebacker Art Spinney.

The Browns received linebacker Tom Catlin, defensive tackle Don Colo, guard Herschel Forester, cornerback John Petitbon and offensive tackle Mike McCormack. Spinney, Rechichar, Colo and McCormack became Pro Bowlers. McCormack and Shula wound up in the HOF.

Then, of course, there was the 1999 brain cramp by New Orleans coach Mike Ditka, who gave up his entire draft (six picks) in exchange for running back Ricky Williams. And we all know how that one turned out.

Historic? Great? Hardly.

However, it does appear as though Shurmur has discovered that exaggeration is a vital chapter in the coachspeak notebook. Hyperbole, thy name is Shurmur.

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