Thursday, March 31, 2005

Browns West

When Browns version 2.0 rolled off the conveyor belts in 1999, the connections of Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark gave the team's roster a striking resemblance to the bench of the San Francisco 49ers.
It was the beta version, unfortunately. Terry Kirby and Ty Detmer were far from Garrison Hearst and Steve Young. Heck, they weren't even Steve Bono and J.J. Stokes.
In the defense of Policy and Clark, the Browns had a mere nine months to put together an NFL roster, whereas teams like the Houston Texans had over two years. Understandably, past connections and familiarity are easy routes to take when a front office needs to spackle holes in a hurry.
Unfortunately, however, Clark seemed to view his cache of 49er retreads as a long-term plan, not a first-year stopgap. Horrible drafts did nothing to help weed out the placeholders.
The Browns relied heavily on presumed talent and connections over actual research and legwork for much of the past six years. After the roster was flooded with San Francisco castoffs, Butch Davis came in with his University of Miami connections. A Hurricane pipeline was built between South Florida and Cleveland. If Butch's college recruits were as good at playing as they were at getting into the police blotter, "Hurricane" might pertain more to the Browns' style of play than the state of their roster.
Now the decks are being cleared once more, this time by new general manager Phil Savage and new coach Romeo Crennel. New philosophy, new playbook, new players.
And for the first time, the Browns are on the giving end of a coach's roster stocking.
All those branded as underachievers on the Browns' defensive line are following position coach Andre Patterson to Denver. Patterson was hired as the Broncos' defensive line coach in February.
Gerard Warren was the first to go, traded for a fourth-round pick that was soon after dealt to Seattle for quarterback Trent Dilfer. Last week, Courtney Brown, he of the good heart and awful knees, signed as a free agent.
Tuesday, the Browns and Broncos signed off on a trade that sent Ebenezer Ekuban and Mike Myers westward for running back Reuben Droughns. The Browns didn't want to give up Myers, who was a solid sub for the past several years, but they had to include Myers as an insurance policy on Ekuban, who is coming off knee surgery.
The moves mean the Broncos could realistically field a starting four-man defensive line consisting of all ex-Browns this fall.
Before you start pointing and laughing at Denver, take the moves in context.
The quartet of Browns are going from an organization that was a mind-blowing disaster the last time they set foot on the field to a relatively stable organization run by Mike Shanahan, a coach who has been in his place almost a decade, with two Super Bowl rings (albeit with John Elway) to his credit.
Warren showed what he was capable of when he was disciplined, constructively encouraged and challenged by interim coach Terry Robiskie at the end of last season, putting together arguably his best month as a pro in December. Davis was too busy coddling Warren and bristling whenever anyone questioned his draft picks to mold Warren into a real player.
Ekuban, signed as a reserve, came off the bench and into a starting role when Brown went down with yet another injury during the season. He ended up leading the team in sacks.
Myers probably wont start, but like in Cleveland, he gives the defensive line great depth in Denver. Brown can never be counted on to stay healthy, but nobody knows how many, if any, of his injuries were brought about by lousy conditioning practices put in place by the previous Browns regimes.
None of the four might become Pro Bowlers in Denver, but playing for an organization with a stronger foundation can only help them become better players.
Warren, Brown, Ekuban and Myers might be shocked at how much easier it is to play for a team that is led by people who can actually lead. We in Cleveland can only hope Savage and Crennel build a similar strong foundation for the Browns.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Five stages of bracket death

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who died last August 24, was a psychiatrist who once came up with a novel and easily-memorized idea concerning mortality.
When someone is dying, the bereaved go through five distinct phases of coping, she theorized. Beginning with denial and ultimately ending with acceptance, she noted the process is a psychological way of coping with loss.
After watching my NCAA brackets waste away to nothing, I have discovered Kubler-Ross' five stages of dying pertain not just to loved ones, but also to the stark realization that no, you aren't going to begin a second career as a bookmaker in Vegas.
Some of us just have a hard time letting go, but as Kubler-Ross' theory states, we are bound to in the end. That $10 entry fee isn't coming back.

1. Denial.
I went 23-9 in the first round. Sure, it was worse than my 26-6 first round record last year, but my bracket pool at work, like most, is weighted toward the big games at the end. My entire Final Four was still intact heading into the round of 32. No worries.

2. Anger.
What happened, Georgia Tech? You had my back last year. You surprised everybody outside Atlanta and made it to the Final Four. Now, you are telling me you got bounced by Louisville? A Conference USA school? Do you even want to have a basketball program anymore, or are you too busy fawning over your baseball team in March to care about hoops?
Well, at least I still have Duke, North Carolina and Oklahoma State alive. They'll get to St. Louis. They won't let me down, unlike you ... you ... Rambling Wrecks.
Yellow Jackets. Honestly, who makes their school mascot an insect?

3. Bargaining.
Oh, please, please, John Lucas Jr. Make that prayer from the baseline go in. Don't let your Oklahoma State squad lose to Arizona! Come on, you made it to the Final Four last year, too. I picked your school over Arizona because you are quality. You are the salt-of-the-Earth school that gave us Bryant "Big Country" Reeves. Arizona is the Jessica Simpson of schools. Hot, blond, but almost always disappointing once you see them in action. At least when I pick them to go far.
You are consistent, Oklahoma State. Don't let me down.
Damn it, Lucas! Why do you fail me? I sat through the better part of two seasons watching your father run the Cleveland Cavaliers into the ground, and this is how you repay me.
Oh, well. I have Duke and North Carolina left. Two mainstays of the Final Four. Duke's going to win it all.

4. Depression.
Duke's not going to win it all. They didn't even put up a fight against Michigan State.
The Big Ten has three teams in the Elite Eight. Go on, laugh it up. I bad-mouthed the Big Ten, called them a lousy basketball conference that, save for Illinois, spent most of the winter beating up on their own mediocre conference-mates.
I was wrong. Napoleon-invading-Russia-just-before-winter wrong. The "big dance" now involves an entire conference doing the cha-cha all over my brackets.
The stink of losing is on me. I wash, and wash, but it won't come off. I am a bracket leper. Every day at work, it's "man, you might finish in last place!"
I try to laugh along with them, but my sense of humor is severely atrophied.

5. Acceptance.
My situation is hopeless. I took it on the chin this year, and nothing is going to change that. So what else can I do but smile, take a deep breath ... and point and laugh at the increasing number of people who will also be in my situation by the end of the weekend.
Ha ha, those of you who picked Michigan State, North Carolina, Illinois or Louisville to win it all! The majority of you will be tearing up your brackets by Monday night, too!
The big difference is, I'll already have come to terms with the suckification of my brackets. You all will still have go through the five stages.
And if your team does indeed win the whole thing on Monday night, well ... I , uh, really don't have a comeback for that. Congratulations. Buy your friends a round of beer.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A touch of class

At the bottom of our basement staircase now hangs a poster for an upcoming movie, "After the Sunset," which I picked up at a radio booth at a local outdoors and travel show.
This means Salma Hayek's boobs are now the first thing you see when you walk into our basement. I think it adds a lot to the decor.

Friday, March 25, 2005

And ... Duke blows it

Duke's going to carry me. Right. See if I ever pick Redneck Harvard to win another NCAA tournament.
Figures. I de-value the Big Ten, consider them a sub-par basketball conference (outside of Illinois), and what happens. Michigan State drops my national champion.

My brackets now have the following uses:

1. Fish wrapping.
2. Bird-cage lining.
3. Puppy housebreaking.
4. Paper airplane.
5. Wastebasket basketball.
6. Taking phone messages on the blank reverses.
7. Displaying for the sake of self-denigrating humor.

But, you know what? I'll still come out ahead of the game. I've taken last year's winnings and invested them in some primo beach-front property in Arizona. I've never seen it, but this guy that sold it to me, Guido something or other, tells me it has a beautiful view of the ocean. So ha, ha this year's champion! Hope you have a great time spending your winnings on chicken wings and seat covers for your car!

And, Duke, I'm sorry about the Redneck Harvard comment. That was uncalled for. You are very obviously a Redneck Stanford. My apologies.

Bracket busted

I came into this year's NCAA tournament with so much hope. I was the defending bracket pool champion at work. The Final Four played out exactly as I plotted it last year, complete with Connecticut taking the title back to Storrs.
Turns out, it was pure, dumb luck. Pure, dumb, blunt, simple, flat-out asinine luck.
There is an entire industry in Las Vegas and Atlantic City based on picking winners in sports. The public at large probably thinks professional bookmakers spend hours in little rooms, puffing away at cigars as they do complex calculations and map out intricate spreadsheets to predict winners as accurately as they can.
But do you want the truth? They don't. Not even close. They sit around, watch some sports, recognize good teams from bad teams, teams with weak schedules from teams with strong schedules, factor in injuries, and come up with the "lines."
It's no more scientific than making a turkey sandwich. Sounding like an expert on NFL Sunday prognostications is hard enough, but in the NCAAs, nobody in this land is worthy to carry Nostradamus' cloak.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee damaged a lot of brackets by getting to the sweet 16, but just as everybody, wagerers and not, are ready to jump on the UWM Cinderella bandwagon, they are tidily dispatched by Illinois Thursday night.
Same goes for Vermont, the other Cinderella candidate who knocked off Syracuse, but is now back home digging out of the remains of a New England winter.
As for me, half my Final Four is now playing Xbox until classes resume. Georgia Tech made it to the nationals last year as a fourth seed. As a 19-11 fifth seed this year, they were second-round dog meat. Oklahoma State had Final Four experience from last year as well, but Arizona hung on just long enough to send the Cowboys packing Thursday.
Once Duke, my national champion, gets knocked off, I can use my brackets to wrap leftovers.
Maybe my brackets are too predictable this year, too reliant on teams repeating their success from last year. But we all need our modus operandi when it comes plotting our would-be winners. The uncertainty, the upsets, the little schools oustering biggers schools in a race for a uniform champion is generally what professional sports doesn't have, and it is certainly what college football's bowl system can't provide.
I wouldn't change March Madness. But if first-time bracketeer wants my advice, I'd say go with your gut instincts and whatever knowledge of college hoops you have stored upstairs. Believe me, you won't be any better or worse off than the guys who pick winners for a living.
It's all luck. And a smattering of common sense. (Duke's going to carry me. I know it.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Yep, Silas is gonzo

This blog is psychic, I think.
The Cavs indeed dropped the ballast on Monday, terminating Paul Silas after less than two seasons at the helm.
Critics of the move chastised owner Dan Gilbert for making a rash fantasy-league decision after two weeks on the job. They scolded general manager Jim Paxson for supporting the move in an effort to save his own skin (which, based on Gilbert's non-committal comments at Monday's press conference, will probably be futile).
The fact is, in addition to the vulgar "See you next Tuesday" comment about Carlos Boozer and the run-ins with Ira Newble and Eric Snow, Silas was just no longer the right man for the job.
Silas was a great hire in June 2003, taking over a team with the most-anticipated rookie in decades in LeBron James, a team still dominated by lunkheads Ricky Davis and Darius Miles. Silas gave a team desperately in need of discipline just that.
It didn't stop them from careening to a 6-19 start last year, but the structure gave veteran acquisitions Eric Williams, Tony Battie and Jeff McInnis a chance to get the Cavaliers into the playoff chase.
However, the acquisition of Snow and the maturation of James have turned the Cavs into a much more veteran team, a team that didn't need the heavy-handed discipline of Silas.
The Cavs are much more in need of a tactician now, someone who is good at drawing up plays and making mid-game adjustments, which is what Silas most definitely is not. This team is also in need of someone who will be at least reasonably consistent with his substitution patterns.
Silas has a little streak of Butch Davis in him. In addition to his absolute hatred of having his methods and authority questioned, he, through design or tendency, toyed with his players.
Like Davis with the Browns, players oscillated between the penthouse and doghouse on Silas' bench. Sasha Pavlovic, Lucious Harris and DeSagana Diop would get significant minutes for four or five games, then disappear off the face of the earth for weeks.
Wild energy and possibly crowd-pleasing wild hair were the two things that saved Anderson Varejao from a similar fate.
Sunday, when McInnis rotted on the bench while Snow logged 40 minutes and zero points, was perhaps the most extreme example of Silas' erratically-revolving substitution door.
Inconsistency from the coach is one of the biggest morale killers in pro sports. Over the course of a long season, players want some kind of routine to adapt to, a role to settle into. Silas never gave his players that sense of purpose.
In the end, his players might have stopped playing for their coach. As the Cavs lost nine of their last 12, they played with much less organization and withdrew into their personal games. That usually happens on losing teams. It happened at the horrid start of last season for the Cavs.
Brendan Malone, Silas' interim replacement, is charged with getting this team to the playoffs, which has been the promise on the horizon all season. His reward will most likely be an oustering by Flip Saunders, Mo Cheeks or even Phil Jackson in the off-season.
But the Cavs had to do something to salvage this season. Anything less than the playoffs is unacceptable in light of last year's tease-and-falter in March and April.
Malone will hopefully get his substitution patterns squared away early on and at least get this team to go 9-9 over their last 18 games to finish 43-39, which should be a comfortable playoff record in the East.
Malone doesn't need to be a breath of fresh air. He just needs to be the anti-Silas on game nights for the next month or so.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

So we got a black eye anyway

Paul Silas, didn't I say Cleveland didn't need another black eye? Man, you need to start reading this blog on a regular basis.
Carlos Boozer doesn't show up Tuesday. Frustrating? Maybe. But the Cavaliers beat Boozer's Jazz easily, and Boozer's absence took away the temptation for any drunk fans to instigate something with the back of Boozer's head, which would have existed had Booz been sitting on the Utah bench. Taking Boozer out of the picture might have prevented a potential incident that could have dragged the reputation of Cleveland fans through the mud some more.
Cleveland appeared to get off scot-free and smelling like a rose Tuesday night. We took the moral high ground, save for some booing when Boozer's image was flashed on the Gund Arena Jumbotron during Utah free-throw attempts, and got away with a 19-point win.
But then, on Wednesday, as the Cavs were preparing to get back to their losing ways on the road in Milwaukee, it came to light that Silas had to open up his fat mouth.
Apparently, in an after-practice interview Monday, Silas came up with a creative new way to describe his former forward. He didn't come right out and say it, but it reportedly was obvious enough that Silas thinks Boozer is crass synonym for a gynecological reference. It rhymes with what football teams generally do on fourth down.
Silas is a physically large man who looks like he should be able to coach a bunch of guys 6-foot-6 and over. He played the NBA game, winning three titles. He demands respect from his players and appears to run a pretty tight ship both on and off the court.
But Silas has touched off enough run-ins with players since becoming Cleveland's coach to make you wonder if he can be the guy to lead the Cavaliers and LeBron James to greatness. Much of it appears to be the product of his coachly temper.
Last season, he and forward Ira Newble got into an argument over playing time following a game in Atlanta. As Newble stormed away, Silas was heard to have called Newble a "hip-hop motherf---er," an apparent reference to Newble's cornrowed, tattooed appearance.
The two seemed to have smoothed it over. Newble has started all but a handful of games for the Cavs this year.
Then there was the blow-up with Eric Snow in December. Snow might have said something caustic to Silas as he was being taken out of a game in Detroit. Different coaches handle player insubordination in different ways, and Silas' answer was to send Snow to the locker room for the rest of the game.
It isn't an unforgivable action, or even wrong. But this wasn't some hot-headed rookie or some knucklehead like Ricky Davis. This was one of the veteran anchors of your team, a guy who had started more than 200 straight games for Philadelphia before landing in Cleveland, where he was taking a bench role with no public complaint.
Afterward, Mount Silas erupted in front of the cameras, telling media members "I don't want to hear the name Eric Snow ... Am I speaking Chinese?" after they prodded a reluctant Silas for a comment on the matter.
The worst thing about Monday's reported shot at Boozer was that it wasn't in the heat of the moment. It wasn't a temper-driven comment. It was simply an off-color joke that could easily be made behind closed doors, but had no place in public. That lack of good judgment on Silas' part is a bit troubling. Coaches are supposed to be the voice of reason. They are supposed to rise above the petty sniping and feelings of betrayal that might exist between players, and players and fans.
Boozer was caught on tape saying he wanted to stay in Cleveland last year. It is hard to believe then-owner Gordon Gund and general manager Jim Paxson would have let Boozer out of his contract without some assurance that he was returning.
Boozer changed his mind when he saw the $68 million Utah was offering him to jump ship in Cleveland, and he couldn't say no. He was bitter that he was not picked until the second round in 2002, and was looking for a career-legitimizing payday. The Cavs were willing to give him that, but the Jazz were willing to give him more.
Boozer's actions very understandably caused hard feelings in Cleveland. Boozer's sorry attempts at justification for his actions and subsequent counter-accusations of character assassination by Gund and Paxson added to the flames.
Boozer was selfish. He should never have said he wanted to stay in Cleveland if that is not how he really felt. But Silas' comments just leveled the moral playing field a bit. If Cleveland's coach is taking incredibly crass verbal barbs at Boozer in public, suddenly it's not as easy to paint the Cavs as the victim last summer.
Silas has the Cavs pointed in the direction of the playoffs, a franchise that desperately needed the good vibe (and revenue) LeBron has provided. But Silas has brought some baggage on board the James Ship. If he begins to weigh this team down with his mouth and temper, it might soon become time to drop the ballast.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Boozer backs out

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Don't try to stop me now, I'm gloating.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Carlos Boozer is chicken! CLUCK! CLUCK!
The man who tried to pull a Baltimore Colts and leave Cleveland under cover of darkness last summer is now hiding behind a foot injury as the reason he won't be on the Utah Jazz bench tonight at Gund Arena.
Fans circled this date on their calendars in July, when Boozer saw the $68 million offer the Jazz dropped at his feet and began slipping on his own drool. Cleveland fans were locked, loaded, and ready to let Booz have it. But now America's favorite supplemental role player will be back in Salt Lake City tonight "rehabbing."
(He's probably actually going to hit the whirlpool for about 25 minutes, then retire to his home overlooking the Great Salt Lake, where he'll order in some lo mein, watch the Oakland-Alabama A&M NCAA play-in game and fall asleep, but that's a secret.)
I don't doubt Boozer's foot injury is legit, he's missed the last 11 games. But injured players making road trips is common practice in the NBA. The team is where the trainers and doctors are, and just about every NBA arena has state-of-the-art sports medicine facilities. There really isn't an excuse, barring hospitalization, that a player should miss being present for any game due to injury.
Boozer simply knows what awaited him tonight in Cleveland, and he didn't want to face it declawed, incapable of getting back at his persecutors with a 30-point, 15-rebound night and a win.
Or maybe he didn't want to have to spend two and a half hours sitting on the bench with his back turned on several thousand fans who think him a traitor. That might actually be a smart move on Boozer's part. We saw in Auburn Hills this past November what happens when heartily-disliked opposing players get too near riled-up and potentially liquored-up fans.
Given the staunch "us-against-them" attitude a lot of Cleveland sports fans have, and the very acute sense of getting screwed, this town is as ripe as any for another embarrassing incident. Cleveland fans, remember, are the ones that pelted the field of Browns Stadium with plastic beer bottles when the referees blew an instant-replay call in 2001, nailing the coffin shut in a loss to Jacksonville. Cleveland is also the town that showered left field with play money in 1997 when Albert Belle returned with the White Sox. For the remainder of that series, fans were kept about 10 feet back from the home run porch fence in Jacobs Field by strategically-placed bike racks.
With LeBron James holding court and Usher making Gund Arena Hollywood-hip, Cleveland doesn't need another black eye like that.
Boozer is ducking Cleveland's wrath, no question, and denying many fans the opportunity to let him know what a special mind-changing, money-grubbing backstabber he really is. But let's count our blessings before we take our stored-up, displaced anger out on the beer vendor for spilling our pre-St. Patrick's Day Bud Light our lap.
The Cavaliers are in second place, 33-27, and tied for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. They still have LeBron, and found Drew Gooden as a very serviceable replacement for Boozer. We also got Anderson Varejao in the Gooden trade, who has helped save the bench on many nights this season.
The Jazz overpaid for Boozer and Mehmet Okur this off-season. Neither one of their prize free agents was able to stop the team from going in the toilet when their real MVP, Andrei Kirilenko, went down with a bum knee earlier this year. The Jazz are now 20-42, dead last in their division. The only playoffs Boozer is going to see this year will be on TV.
Boozer has been publicly called out by Utah's owner for not answering the superstar bell in Kirilenko's absence, and was the subject of trade rumors before the trade deadline. As predicted, his defensive shortcomings have haunted him in the frontcourt-heavy west. He was a beast in the East. In the West, he's a bit undersized and not athletic enough to be a true marquee player.
All in all, things have shaped up well for Cleveland. The Cavs are in the thick of the playoff hunt with an outside chance at catching Detroit in the Central Division. We get to sit back and gloat as Boozer crawls back to Utah to hide out while his lottery-bound team plays in Cleveland tonight. He's paid, but as far as being the heir to Karl Malone's lofty power-forward throne in Utah as he wanted, it's not happening.
Maybe we all should just keep our mouth shut if we should pass Boozer on the street. Just stick your nose a little higher in the air and walk by with supreme confidence. Nothing else is needed.
Well maybe a little something.
So, how are things down there in last place, Carlos? HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mad cookie season

It must be Girl Scout fundraising season again.
Girl Scout cookies are all over the map, multiplying like bunnies. The Girl Scout troops have stands in malls, door-to-door sales, and worst of all, parents bringing those dang forms into work and pointing them out to everyone they can grab the ear of.
I can just see the interactions in the women's restrooms of workplaces throughout the land. Some lady is fixing her hair at the mirror, and this disembodied, chirpy voice spurts out of a stall:
"Lydia? Oh, Lydia, is that you? I just want to let you know that Caitlin's Girl Scout troop is selling cookies again. The forms are in the lunch room."
Girl Scouts of America isn't just an extracurricular activity for pre-teens. It has to be a full-fleged business enterprise with marketers who have studied the concept of market saturation at length. The grass-roots advertising campaign for their cookies is nearly foolproof. Come on, they say, get someone to buy these cookies. It's fundraising. It's for a good cause. If you are a Girl Scout, or have one in your family, you are on the bandwagon. You can't help but be on the bandwagon. They have ways of dealing with you if you're not.
And once they have you, you are addicted. Thin mints, I am convinced, have nicotine in them. I can't stop eating them, no matter how much self-discipline I try to muster. Turkey sandwiches and salads take a backseat in jockeying for positioning in my stomach.
And I know I'm not alone. Once that first box of cookies is gone, you seek out that Girl Scout Mom at work and order some more. And she's only happy to enable your addiction. Four boxes? Five? How about some do-si-do's?
You think Hostess has a junk food empire? Girl Scout cookies put Twinkies to shame. Little Debbie isn't worthy to carry the merit badges of the Girl Scouts.
It's proliferation with sugar, and it's led me to a sad realization: Girl Scouts are contributing to America's obesity epidemic.
Second only to the fast food industry, Girl Scout cookies are carving a fattening niche in our society. They might be even more dangerous than McDonald's. Fast food restaurants can try to woo you with hamburgers and greasy French fries, but only Girl Scout cookies have pathos on their side.
Those cookie boxes are covered with smiling girls. Happy girls, broadening their horizons, learning new things, challenging themselves, becoming better people. Maybe one of these girls will represent your state in the Senate someday, the boxes seem to say. Maybe one of them will become President.
Don't buy the cookies? Well, that's just like saying you don't care about the future of 51 percent of the American population.
So you sheepishly offer up some cash to the incisor-less smile of that seven-year-old staring up at you. Come on, just two boxes? Make it three. It's for a good cause, after all.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

De-Butchinizing the Browns

It is a virtually inevitable fact: when a team struggles, fans want to vent. They call for the selling of the team, the clearing out of the front office, the firing of the coach, and most of all, the gutting of the roster.
Usually, fans are just acting out. When cooler heads prevail, we see it wasn't as bad as we all thought. The team starts to win and gains respectability without having a hatchet taken to it.
Then there's the Cleveland Browns.
Every Browns fan who has ever thrown a temper tantrum watching their team lose is seeing their heat-of-the-moment wishes come to life this early NFL off-season. The Browns are, indeed, gutting the roster.
If you thought Butch Davis mishandled the Cleveland roster miserably, guess what -- the new Browns regime agrees with you.
Tuesday, new general manager Phil Savage essentially told Davis what he thought of selecting defensive tackle Gerard Warren with the third overall pick of the 2001 draft. Savage laid the groundwork of a trade that would send Warren to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick. Yes, a fourth-round pick.
It might sound harsh, but on the heels of Davis, who wouldn't trade Kevin Johnson for a third-round pick only to release him a year later for nothing, it is small progress.
Savage made no guarantee the de-Butchinization of the Browns was going to be a bloodless coup. He's making good on that. Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel are going to leave the bruised, battered remains of a lot of egos as they clean house. Not that egos should matter much when you have taken the reigns of a 4-12 team.
Like Warren, running back William Green was, for all intents and purposes, shown the door last week when his agent was given permission to seek a trade (translation: get your underachieving client and his personal baggage the &%#@ off our team).
Robert Griffith, not the head case Warren or Green is, was also released late last week. Griffith was a mature guy and didn't disgrace the organization off the field like Warren or Green, but he was also one of Davis' prize free agent pickups. Like so many of Davis' moves, it didn't really work. Maybe Griffith was the high-paid poster boy for the previous regime's ineptitude.
Of course, you can't talk about cleaning house in Cleveland without bringing up Jeff Garcia, who met with the Buccaneers on Monday. A year after the Browns outbid the Bucs and themselves to sign Garcia, he will probably wind up inking a deal for peanuts with the team the Browns should have let him go to in the first place.
More roster beheadings are sure to come. Punter Derrick Frost, tackle Ross Verba and defensive lineman Courtney Brown are at the top of the suspect list.
Only once the blood-letting is complete can Savage then concentrate on bringing in quality players he (hopefully) did his homework on before laying down the cash, unlike Davis.
Even in the rags-to-riches, parity-driven NFL, this ordeal may take several years before Cleveland fans can start reaping the benefits and watch their team climb up the standings.