The Browns Played on TV Last Night

That’s Jim Brown. In action-figure form. I’m getting married in two weeks, and presents have been arriving from our Amazon registry. Jim Brown is the only gift we’ve gotten that I picked. It’s otherwise been sheets and kitchen accessories like a turquoise teakettle. I wanted Jim Brown, and my aunt Judy in Ohio got him for us. Look at how awesome he is.

Jim Brown is my favorite football player even though I’m too young to have ever seen him play; he retired 16 years before I was born, as an eight-time NFL rushing champion. I worship him because he’s a Brown, and because the Browns are “my team.” Judy is a favorite aunt, so this curse is partly her fault.

The Browns played in prime time Thursday night, against the Baltimore Ravens. It was the only game you could watch. Two things:

1) The Browns have been so consistently terrible that they almost never play at night on national TV.

2) The Baltimore Ravens WERE the Cleveland Browns. Here’s an ad the announcer read during the game, for an upcoming documentary: “Well, in 1995 the Cleveland Browns picked up and dramatically moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens. That move forever linked the football fortunes of these two cities. Wednesday, take an in-depth look at how it changed the course of history for two great franchises and the people who ran them. Don’t miss ‘Cleveland ’95, A Football Life,’ Wednesday at 8 eastern exclusively on NFL Network.”

You wanna know how it changed things for Cleveland? They watched the Ravens win the Super Bowl and become one of the few consistently good teams in the NFL. Meanwhile, Cleveland was given a new Browns, out of thin air, which has had six different head coaches and 18 starting quarterbacks. That’s right. We’ve covered this before.

It’s so hard not to be jealous. The best kind of football is hard-core defensive football. That’s what really cool. The Ravens have been an awesome defensive team. Future-Hall-of-Fame linebacker Ray Lewis would be an absolute God for Cleveland if the team had never left. And Ed Reed is a safety who scores touchdowns. At quarterback, Joe Flacco has won more games in his first four NFL seasons than any other quarterback, ever.

The Browns have Joe Thomas now, a badass left tackle. That was the best thing about them until they drafted Trent Richardson this year. Richardson does just what he was built for: carries the ball at a high velocity while ramming would be tacklers with his knees and huge, rock-hard arm muscles. He hurts defenders, and he has a feel for the end zone. (On his first TD, he did a high front flip over the goal line.) Richardson fights for yards, dragging defenders with him.

Down 9-0, the Browns made a long drive to the goal line late in the second quarter Thursday night. Richardson ran left at the snap, caught a pitch from his quarterback (Brandon Weeden, a fellow rookie), then won a pure foot race against the defense for the corner of the end zone. He scored untouched.

Weeden, though, threw an interception that got returned for a touchdown at the end of the third quarter. It was the difference in the game, which ended as a 23-16 Ravens win. With 15 seconds left in the fourth, Weeden almost hit a long touchdown that would have tied it. Ed Reed, though, flew through the air and tipped the ball away just as it was just about to be caught.

The Browns are 0-4, destined to take yet another quarterback with their top-three pick in next year’s draft. They are young, though, and look like they’ll get better. They have yet to be blown out this year, which is something. And they have Trent Richardson. He’s no Jim Brown, but the team Jim Brown played for is competing for Super Bowls in Baltimore.

Sigh….

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Dismemberment Goblins in “Cabin in the Woods” on DVD

Which terrifying subgroup from the “army of nightmare creatures” in “Cabin in the Woods” would be scariest to face? (And which would make the best fantasy football team name?)

Let’s see. There’s….

Werewolf, Alien Beast, Mutants, Wraiths, Zombies, Reptilius, Clowns, Witches, Sexy Witches, Demons, Hell Lord, Angry Molesting Tree, Giant Snake, Deadites, Kevin, Mummy, The Bride, Scarecrow Folk, Snowman, Dragonbat, Vampires, Dismemberment Goblins, Sugarplum Fairy, Merman, the Reanimated, Unicorn, the Huron, Sasquatch/Wendigo/Yeti, Dolls, the Doctors, Zombie Redneck Torture Family, Jack O’ Lantern, Giants and Twins.

Confused about the difference between Zombies and Zombie Redneck Torture Family? So was the Chem Department, which puts its money on Zombies but loses when Dana reads the Latin in Anna Patience Buckner’s sickening diary, thereby raising the pain-worshiping Buckner family. Sitterson explains: “Yes, you had ‘Zombies.’ But this is ‘Zombie Redneck Torture Family.’ Entirely separate thing. It’s like the difference between an elephant and an elephant seal.”

Kevin. Just seeing the name on that big white board sends a shiver down my spine.

The Buckners were an unlucky choice by the film’s youthful victims, but I would rather take them on than Hell Lord. He stands silently, holding a weird ball that probably unlocks the portal to hell. Obviously no one wants to meet a dragonbat or werewolf, but those will rip you apart quick, so you’re dead almost as soon as you meet them. The problem with the Buckners and the Hell Lord is they want to watch you suffer first. One of the lab techs is seen, very briefly, hanging upside down in chains while Hell Lord slowly stalks the space around him. Forget that.

(Then again, the Doctors will dissect you alive. And a demon is seen swinging a commando with severed legs around in a blood-spraying circle, before flinging the poor sucker, screaming, across an entire room. There’s really no right choice here.)

“Cabin in the Woods” is such a cool, funny, weird, scary, awesome movie. It’s the Flip Side’s favorite flick so far this year – a crazy-entertaining, cultish nerd fest that deserves to be a huge hit on DVD. (Written and directed, it should be noted, by Los Alamos High School alum Drew Goddard. Go Hilltoppers!)

Angry Molester Tree makes an appearance. So do the Sugarplum Fairy and a laughing, bullet-proof clown. The Unicorn tallies a brutal kill. And Merman? This one must not be ruined for potential viewers. Just know that “Cabin in the Woods” is fun for anyone who likes movies, in general, and not just horror fans. It’s a new classic. And the ending is the best part.

Kelsey Grammer’s “Boss” Helps Us Understand

“Boss” is about a legitimately crazy evil person who is mayor of Chicago. Kelsey Grammer plays Mayor Thomas Kane. He kills people over city contracts, shakes hands without washing after an open-door bathroom break, and suffers from some disease that blasts his mind with crippling dementia. He is freaking out and cracking up in front of people.

It’s great, and it brilliantly portrays an essential truth: Politics is all about sex.

You’ve always gotta nail the debate scenes in a political TV show. The most memorable single episode of “The West Wing” was the live (it really was live the first time it aired) debate between liberal Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Smits and conservative Republican candidate Alan Alda. It was an amazing back-and-forth exchange of political ideas – free-market versus publicly financed solutions to major American problems – between great characters and great actors.

Check back with The Flip Side some time in the next month for a recap of that episode.

What was…? Oh. So, in “Boss,” this handsome soulless sex addict named Ben Zajac is running for governor of Illinois against Senator Catherine Walsh. They have a town-hall debate, negotiated between campaign managers. Zajac’s campaign manager is his wife; Walsh’s campaign manager is a former Kane staffer who had steamy sex with Zajac when the mayor was propping him up as a governor candidate. An abortion was soon necessary.

Zajac opens. Notice how he doesn’t really say anything, just like a certain every other politician you’ve ever seen lately: “Thank you. I am humbled by this opportunity to have this conversation with you all today, to hear your concerns and answer your questions. There’s no mediators. No pundits. Just you and me talk about our great state, and my vision for its future. A future filled with forward motion, progress, and hope. Not saddled with the failed politics of the past. And that’s what we’ll get if Sen. Walsh is elected. She will take us backwards. I’m not one to want to live for yesterday, and you’re not either. Let’s live for now, Illinois.”

The Walsh campaign manager who had Zajac’s abortion is sitting in the back row of the audience. “Now,” she says into a cellphone.

Zajac is answering a question about his family when members of the crowd all start looking at their own phones. They’re seeing a picture online of Zajac, who is white, having sex with a black woman. She’s enjoying herself. No butts get blurred. “Treasurer Zajac in Sex Scandal,” the headlines blare.

“I used to be that guy who didn’t want the noisy kids next to him on the airplane,” he says. “Well, now I got a couple of them. And while at times, uh, emotional and exhausting, uh… and of course expensive. I am grateful every single day that I get to be a husband and father.”

No one’s paying attention. They’re all looking at their phones and whispering to each other. The next question is for Zajac, from a big fat lady with curly red hair: “Mr. Zajac, who is the woman in the picture just posted by the Springfield Ledger?”

“I, uh, I’d rather not, uh, comment on an unconfirmed photograph, uh, this is not… my candidacy and we’re here to debate issues and -”

“Wait a minute!” the lady says. “Is this a picture of you and Alderman Ross’s wife?”

Mayor Kane is watching his candidate go down in sweaty flames, on the TV in his office. He is being taunted by the ghost of a man he had killed. Kane isn’t blinking. A top aid walks in right then and says “Sir, I, uh….”

“I can’t talk right now.”

“Joe Young is dead. Police found him in his truck, strangled, with a map of Chicago in his mouth.”

Boom! It gets even better from there.

This is a cool show, and Kelsey Grammer is amazing as a sad lunatic running Chicago. Grammer’s Wikipedia page includes this:

“Grammer’s personal life has been affected by several tragedies: in 1968, his estranged father, whom he had seen only twice since his parents’ divorce, was shot dead; in 1975, his younger sister, Karen, was abducted, raped and murdered by spree killer Freddie Glenn; in 1980, his twin half-brothers died in a scuba diving accident; and David Angell, close friend and producer of Frasier, died in the 9/11 attacks.”

Wow. Also:

– Began drinking when he was nine.

– Married four times and has five children and one grandchild.

– Daughter on an MTV show called “Awkward” and ex wife who was on the show “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

– Sued the Internet Entertainment Group in 1998 over a sex tape he said the company stole.

– Waited 90 minutes for paramedics to arrive after suffering a heart attack in 2008.

– Endorsed Michelle Bachmann for the Republican nomination for president this year.

Now, that last one makes perfect sense given the character he plays so well on “Boss.” Remember this Newsweek cover?

Crazies stick together.

Can you believe what a life this man has had, though? All that tragedy and hardship has to be a big reason he’s such a talented actor.

One last thing: Did you see Jon Stewart’s “Moment of Zen” Thursday night? It’s a clip of Mitt Romney at some ceremony on March 17, 2005. He’s wearing a suit with a big green flower pinned to the lapel and he says into a microphone “One last thought, you guys. When I was a boy… when I was a boy I used to think that becoming rich and becoming famous would make me happy. Boy was I right!”

Watch “Boss” and you’ll understand better. This is all about power, and power is all about ego. And what is ego all about? Mitt Romney is a sex addict.

Browns Sabotaged!

Nothing is more stupid than intentionally creating a quarterback controversy. Nothing. Quarterback controversies mean you do not have a really good player at the most important position on the field, probably the most demanding position in all professional sports. Quarterback controversies infect the rest of the team, because anything that makes the game less fun is going to impact the result on the field. Chemistry matters. Otherwise Terrell Owens would be a Super Bowl champion.

This is the stat line from Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, in his debut yesterday against the Philadelphia Eagles:

12-for-35, 118 yards, 4 interceptions, 2 fumbles.

He also badly overthrew an open touchdown in the first quarter. The Browns lost to the Eagles by one point. One. The final score was 17-16. Cleveland’s defense was awesome, but couldn’t hold off the winning touchdown at the end. Brandon Weeden got the ball back, but threw his fourth interception to end the game.

This is not the Browns’ players fault. They are hating their own team right now, I know it. Check out this Tweet today from former Browns linebacker Quinton Spears:

I feel so certain the current Browns players agree. Drafting and playing a rookie QB like this makes no football sense. It was an attempt by Browns management to show off how smart they are, and it failed spectacularly. It was a decisions that could only be made by ego-driven jackass hacks.

There was real excitement over drafting Trent Richardson, the record-setting running back from last year’s championship Alabama team, in the first round this year. That excitement was almost immediately undermined, though, by the decision the team made with its second first-round pick, selecting Weeden – a former minor-league baseball player and, at 28, the oldest first-round pick in NFL history.

Colt McCoy’s been starting the last two seasons as Browns quarterback. Before the Browns picked him up in the NFL draft three years ago, he was the winningest college quarterback ever (and led Texas to the title game). Colt made his bones as a pro – throwing touchdowns and absorbing huge hits. Not playing that well, granted, but certainly no disaster.

Last year, the team got into trouble because McCoy got concussed by a massive hit and was sent back onto the field without team doctors following proper head-injury protocol. He looked like he didn’t know where he was, and wound up sitting out the rest of the year.

He put his brain on the line for them and how have they said “Thank you”? They dicked him over, first of all. From ESPN’s Adam Schefter: “the Browns told quarterback Colt McCoy they wouldn’t draft a quarterback in round one.” Why lie? Just don’t say anything! If there’s the slightest possibility you might take a quarterback, don’t tell the quarterback you watched wobble onto an NFL field for you that you’re not planning to pick his replacement.

It’s just mean. Made worse by the fact that McCoy’s own teammates had been pulling for him to get the starting job this season. It would mean consistency at the most crucial position, and the Browns could have added a different, potentially great, player in the draft where they plucked this new quarterback no one except management wanted on the team.

Four interceptions in his first game. Let’s see how many four-interception games McCoy has had…. um… checking… NONE! Last year the most interceptions he threw in a game was two. Once. He won four games. If you make the team around him better, that number would go up this season.

Instead they drafted this guy from Oklahoma State. In college he was great, but that probably had a lot to do with the receiver who kept catching his passes – a tall, fast beast with huge hands and a mean streak named Justin Blackmon. He was the best receiver in college football last year. He made Weeden look great.

This Browns team is sickening since the original Browns moved to Baltimore, renamed themselves the Ravens, and won the Super Bowl. Good players (Kellen Winslow Jr., Joe Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards) have gotten staph infections from the Cleveland locker room. Jim Brown, former Browns running back and also the greatest football player ever, wouldn’t attend a ceremony in his honor because the Browns’ current president, Mike Holmgren, fired Brown as an adviser to the team. Perhaps Adviser Jim Brown could have told Holmgren it was insane to draft Weeden when so many other areas need addressing on the roster.

So the team is hatable for garbage that goes on off the field. And then the product it creates, the actual team playing football, gets undermined by obviously terrible personnel decisions. Holmgren came on as president vowing to turn around the Browns. When he leaves at the end of this year (he’s said he’s leaving) the team could actually be worse than when he took it over.

Improvement is all the fans want. Please, get better. Browns management refuses to focus on improving. Drafting Weeden sabotaged this team. It was so obviously the wrong move. Now they have a QB controversy on their hands. They would have to be drooling morons to not have seen this coming. Tighten up the line. Build on your strengths. Don’t just throw up your hands and reset. Again. Rebuilding every year is your plan to make this team better? What the f*ck?!

Cam Newton Counted to Infinity, Twice: An NFL Preview

Let’s compare Carolina Panthers quaterback Cam Newton’s vitals to the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 killer robot in “The Terminator.”

Newton: 6-foot-5, 245 pounds.

T-101: 6-foot-5, 897 pounds.

Their builds match exactly. Look:

See? Same diff.

I know what you’re thinking: big weight disparity. While Newton and the T-101 share identical heights and builds, the metal exoskeleton vastly outweighs the bones and tissue in the Panthers’ quarterback. But that’s why Newton is actually a better model. T-101 failed in its mission, remember, because it lacked speed. If Newton were hunting Sarah Connor, you better believe John would not have been born.

My fantasy life is in Cam Newton’s hands, after I drafted him in the first round ahead of where all the (wrong-half-the-time) experts’ mock drafts said he should go. I took him because I can see the future, and one year from now Newton will be the unanimous first overall pick, coming off an MVP season and a deep playoff run. Cam Newton is a Terminator who plays football, and recent history says he’ll be a touchdown machine this season.

Two years ago, he was the best college player any of us have ever seen. He led the proud-but-not-great Auburn football program to an undefeated record in the conference every college football fan agrees has by far the best collection of teams. The SEC’s Alabama, LSU and Florida have dominated the national-title picture for almost a decade, except for Newton’s one season playing Auburn quarterback.

Against teams flush with future NFL defenders, Newton set an SEC record for passing efficiency and led the conference in rushing yards and rushing TDs. He was the best quarterback and the best running back in college football (30 pass TDs, 20 rush TDs). And he was a winner, scoring four touchdowns against Alabama to rally Auburn back from a 24-0 deficit. Auburn went undefeated and won the national championship. Newton won the Heisman.

Last year, Newton set NFL records for passing yards by a rookie (4,051). He set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns (14) by any quarterback, ever. He was awesome, and the Panthers were markedly better than the season before. He was easily named rookie of the year.

The point here is this: Based on the pattern Cam Newton has shown as a football player (oh, he won the junior college championship the year before going to Auburn), if he doesn’t win some kind of huge award and lead his team on a great run it will be the first time in several years he didn’t elevate himself into a supreme king of football. Cam Newton is usually better than everyone else, and yet he still keeps finding ways to improve.

Late last year, the Miami Heat were playing in North Carolina against the Bobcats. Dwyane Wade hit a shot with two seconds left that gave Miami the lead. Then Wade walked toward Cam Newton, sitting courtside, and did Newton’s touchdown-celebration move, putting his fists together at his chest and then slowly spreading them apart, like Clark Kent busting out the “S” on his Superman costume. Behind Wade, LeBron James was doing the same thing with a big smile on his face.

Newton was laughing his ass off. These guys get each other. They’re part of an exclusive club. Cam Newton is going to dominate the NFL this season… and beyond.

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