Trent Richardson must become a Brown, so he probably won’t

I am obsessed.

The Cleveland Browns have the No. 4 pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft, and I want so very badly for them to pick Trent Richardson, the running back who just won the NCAA championship on an awesome Alabama team. I want the Browns to please, for once, pick a real star player. They always have high draft picks, and they always screw up when they go for a star at a flashy position. The year after the Colts got Peyton Manning No. 1 overall, the Browns got Tim Couch No. 1 overall. The next year, they got Courtney Brown No. 1 overall. Tim Couch and Courtney Brown were not successful. They were not even good. At all.

The Browns tricked everyone when they drafted Gerard Warren instead of LaDanian Tomlinson in 2001. Morons.

Richardson is a dad, I just learned from ESPN. This does not give me pause over his devotion to football, because when he’s playing he can stop and start quite suddenly, mid-run, which drives defenses crazy and makes him a nightmare to tackle. He had 1,679 yards last season, averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and he scored 21 touchdowns. Those are the numbers of a future NFL star. Also good numbers: He can squat 650 pounds and bench press 475 pounds.

The Browns picked a wide receiver once at No. 3 overall in the draft in 2005, an athletic freak named Braylon Edwards. He had one really great season. Then he started dropping touchdowns that hit him in the hands. Then he reportedly punched LeBron James’s friend in the face outside a nightclub. Then he was traded to the Jets. He is not missed, especially considering he got a DUI shortly after that trade.

There was running back William Green, drafted by the Browns in the first round in 2002 and then famously pulled over for driving drunk on one flat tire wearing a sock on only one foot. Reportedly.

Oh, and how about Kellen Winslow Jr., a tightly wound, super-talented tight end drafted No. 6 overall in 2004? He broke his leg two games into his rookie season and needed two surgeries. As he was getting ready for the 2005 season, he wrecked a motorcycle (he was contractually not supposed to be riding) on a curb in a parking lot and blew out his knee, forcing him to miss that entire year. Like many other players on the team, he later got a staph infection in the Browns locker room. He plays for the Buccaneers now.

Being a Browns fan sucks. It SUCKS! Almost every season we stink. We’re boring. There’s so little to get pumped up about, and the team’s been so terribly operated and coached that I have sworn, multiple times, to renounce my allegiance to the team and become a bastard-born-again NFL fan, cheering for players rather any specific team. But then the season starts and I get invested all over again in the stupid Browns.

(These aren’t even the Browns that Jim Brown – the greatest football player ever – ran 5.2 yards per carry for. Those Browns are in Baltimore now. They’re called the Ravens and they won a Super Bowl after moving out of Cleveland and changing their name. This new, expansion version of the Browns has only been around since 1999.)

I have talked myself into Trent Richardson. Completely. To the point of obsession. As a Brown, he shall add desperately needed dynamism to a horrible offense. Cleveland’s defense is actually getting pretty good. We just need a slick player on offense, someone who gets yards and scores touchdowns. That’s right – all the Cleveland Browns require is a player who can get yards and score touchdowns.

There are other Browns fans out there, I know it, who feel the same way. They too are becoming obsessed with Richardson. The draft is Thursday night. Every sportswriter venturing a prediction says the Browns will get him. Browns Nation is getting its hopes up, yet we’re also all wondering what’s going to happen between now and tomorrow to steer Richardson onto some other team.

He would be so perfect for the Browns, and that’s probably why they won’t get him. I’m already angry. Curse you, football gods. Why do you hate Cleveland?


In New Mexico, campaign contributors get fat state contracts. I hate that

I wrote a press release last week for Independent Source PAC. It included this line: “The Downs deal is politics at its worst.”

Here’s the thing about people who write press releases: We don’t always believe what we’re putting down, we just want our bosses to be happy. “The Downs deal is politics at its worst” felt to me more like a slogan than a fact. Spokespeople strive for catchy little sayings you’ll remember, not honesty. “Politics at its worst”? That’s gold, Jerry!

The thing is, though, that in this case it fits. The Downs deal really, truly is politics at its worst. That argument can be made because it’s purely about money and political favoritism.

Follow me here, because we don’t have to go very far to find what really matters. Businessmen from out of state get to know our governor, her staff and their friends. Then they give Gov. Martinez a lot of money for her campaign. They give her even more money after she’s elected. We’re talking five-figure donations.

What do they get for that money? A big, fat state contract. They get to build a massive race track and casino and run it as the New Mexico Fairgrounds over the next 25 years. Total net profit, when all is said and done, will be more than $1 billion.

The people around Gov. Martinez get jobs for their wives at different state agencies, jobs that pay salaries of around 90,000 taxpayer dollars. The guy on the state fair commission who cast the deciding vote in awarding the Downs deal knows all about Martinez’s generosity, because his daughter-in-law was payed $29,000 over four months to work for Susana PAC, raising money.

Everyone involved in the contract is connected, business-wise, and then there are players literally related to each other. A lot of the folks making money here are good friends. The few responsible officials who want to vet the deal find themselves frozen out or stonewalled by Martinez’s good soldiers, who consider loyalty to the cause more important than good government.

A Republican, appointed by Martinez, resigned from the state’s Board of Finance last year over this deal. Then he told the newspaper Martinez met with him to say she “would take it personally” if he criticized her staff’s actions in making the deal. Gangster. Hard to believe she’d care what he said if the contract wasn’t totally corrupt, right?

It’s just sad that this is what our powerful people actually spend their time doing. That sucks. If you’re like me, you see huge problems in America and feel powerless to do anything about them. Martinez and her extremely well-paid team could spend their time on the taxpayer’s clock working smartly to solve major problems. Instead, they do this garbage.

It’s happening everywhere in state government: timely campaign contributions are turning into business-friendly policies or giant contracts. The work happening behind the curtain looks nothing like what is on stage.

Please, watch the KOB report on this: Don’t worry about any of the lawyerly stuff and just consider the governor’s response at the very end. It has absolutely nothing to do with what we’re saying. It’s trash. These are the people who run our state. This is what they do.

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