Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jim Brown and a grain of salt

So Hue Jackson plans on taking advantage of Jim Brown’s wisdom with regard to his new team.

Some free advice to the new Browns coach: Don’t. You’ll be wasting your time.

“I’m looking forward to finding out as many things as Jim Brown knows that can help our football team be the best it can be,” he said. “We’re talking about a guy that did it as well as anybody ever, so it would be really smart on my part to sit and talk to him and have him tell me things he sees and that he has felt.”

Oops. Too late.

Just about every Cleveland coach since Chris Palmer and the expansion 1999 Browns has used the great running back as a sounding board and you see where it has landed this team.

Now Jim Brown is a revered icon of days past. Best running back I have ever seen. Bar none. His greatness transcends generations.

But at the age of 80, he is nothing more now than a symbol of those glory days. He can add nothing substantive to what lies ahead for Jackson.

Perhaps the coach is saying this as a courtesy to the man whose title with the club is generously labeled special advisor. It was awarded him following the departure of Mike Holmgren, who basically tried to put Brown out to pasture.

The game, of course, is played altogether differently than when Brown ran rampant against the National Football League from 1957 to 1965. It is no longer the game he played.

Why coaches continue to seek Brown’s advice is puzzling. His assessment of players, quarterbacks in particular, are bizarre. Yes he got Trent Richardson right, but little else.

All you have to do is look at how much he continued to support Johnny Manziel no matter how much he and trouble danced a dance that will see him exit Cleveland shortly. Manziel isn’t the only young quarterback Brown has missed on.

Remember Charlie Frye, selected by the Browns in the third round of the 2005 college draft from the University of Akron? Check out what Brown said about him in May 2006 following the Browns’ three-day minicamp.

“Charlie’s is my guy,” he declared. “Charlie’s always been my guy right from the start. He’s a warrior. He’ll do fine.” Bernie Kosar also declared Frye had the “it” factor.

Frye beat out Trent Dilfer for the starting job in 2006. The Browns finished 4-12 that season with Frye throwing 10 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.

He returned the next season and beat out Derek Anderson and rookie Brady Quinn to earn the starting job. He performed so poorly in the season opener against Pittsburgh in the 34-7 loss, he was benched at halftime for Anderson, who went on to lead the club to a 10-6 record.

Two days later, Brown’s “guy”, his “warrior” was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for what turned out to be a sixth-round draft pick. It paved the way for Quinn, who started 12 games for the Browns and departed after the 2009 season.

Jackson has a reputation as a quarterback whisperer. He would be wise to change the course of a conversation with Brown when quarterbacks are the topic.

It shouldn’t take him long to discover that whatever wisdom Brown imparts won’t be as impactful as he now believes.


  1. I think their ultimate aim is to use Brown to start a program of recognizing former players and enhancing the fan experience, rather than using him as a football strategist. IMHO

  2. Then say so rather than disguise it as something else. All they are doing now is making Brown feel important as if that's what it takes. He is just a figurehead. Has been for at least the last 10 years.