The Biggest Mystery In The NFL
There is a mystery in the NFL. A mystery that has existed in the league for almost 20 years. Many smart and talented people have tried their best to solve it but it still reigns with the steadfastness of other age-old mysteries like the Sphinx in Egypt or why there are never the same amount of socks when you finish laundry as from when you start.
I mean historically bad. The Browns, from 1999 when the franchise was reestablished in the NFL, have a record of 88 wins and 216 losses. That’s an average of roughly four (4) wins a year. Last season they became the second winless team since the season was expanded to 16 games in 1978 and the fourth ever in NFL history.
They did had two (2) winning seasons in this time span. In 2002 they went 9 – 7 and made it to a playoff game where they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a 33 -36 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Then in 2007 they finished with a 10 – 6 record but failed to win the conference because they lost a tiebreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers and missed a wildcard berth by losing a tiebreaker to the Tennessee Titans. The Detroit Lions, who were the first team to go winless in a 16 game season in the same time span, went 113 – 191. An average of roughly six (6) wins a year and they have three (3) playoff appearances (all losses).
You can argue that the plight of the Browns isn’t a mystery at all and that it is a combination of bad drafts, bad coaching, bad ownership, and you can’t win in the city of Cleveland. I will argue that is the mystery. Why do they draft so poorly? Why have the installed a revolving door on the Head Coach’s office? Why hasn’t ownership done a better job? What is it about Cleveland that makes it hard to win?
To solve this mystery I’m going to take all of the evidence mentioned above and apply the principle of causality, or cause and effect. What do bad drafts, bad coaching, and bad ownership cause? They cause losing. What is the effect of losing? According to multiple psychologists it leads to a psychology of losing.
I’m going to spare you the full explanation of what the Psychology of Losing is but basically it means when losing has become prevalent in, or permeates, a subconscious it causes the subject to feel overly pressured to correct the losing causing the subject to reach, or make high risk choices, that more often than not lead to a detrimental outcome. How can an entire franchise be afflicted with this you ask?
Have you been on Social Media?
Been on the internet?
The negativity that surrounds the Cleveland Browns has been pervasive on Social Media and the internet for years. You can’t just tell people to ignore the criticism like you could twenty-five years ago. If someone is told they are a loser enough times and by enough people you get person who starts feeling like a loser or adapts to a psychology of losing. Franchises are just a collection of people working under one name.
So I’ve solved the mystery. The next question that begs to be answered is how do you fix the losing when your own subconscious is a factor. Most psychologists recommend that when an environment becomes too toxic and overly negative the best recourse is to remove yourself from that environment.
So with that I say, Jimmy Haslam needs to relocate the Cleveland Browns franchise to another city.
That’s right, I said the Cleveland Browns need to leave Cleveland.
There have been multiple NFL franchises moving to new cities for a fresh start and it has worked. Here’s just a few; The L.A. Rams moved to St. Louis and won a Super Bowl. The St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix, made a Super Bowl. Oh, and the CLEVELAND BROWNS moved to Baltimore and won two Super Bowls!
See Mr. Haslam? It’s been done before and you can do it again.
So there, I’ve solved the mystery and even fixed the problem.
I was thinking I was pretty smart, smart enough to take my fix and see how it held up to two native Ohioan’s who are smart, ardent, and lifelong Cleveland sports fans who are also good friends. So I presented them with this question, “If Jimmy Haslam moved the Browns to another city and Cleveland was guaranteed another franchise in two years, would you be against it and why?”. I phrased the question this way because in 1996 Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and the NFL ruled that the Browns Franchise would remain a Cleveland entity and a new franchise would be awarded to the city in two years.
My friend Todd, who is a producer at the NFL Network, replied first and said, “That would be stupid and yet another blow to Northern Ohio. They have suffered enough.”
He went on to say if the Browns do leave he’d rather a NHL franchise move in than another football franchise.
My other friend Mark, who is a Senior Specialist at Zappos, replied, “That kind of betrayal from a franchise that was forcibly removed once would completely take the wind out of the sails that Cleveland has right now”. He went on to explain that the Indians and Cavaliers have been really good for Cleveland the past few years and that with all their draft picks, there was excitement about the Browns.
Their visceral reactions led me to have two thoughts. First, I’m not as smart as I think I am. Second, If my theory that the preponderance of negativity on Social Media, the internet, and in the media is a factor in keeping the Browns franchise from breaking free from the constraints of the psychology of losing, what would keep the negativity from moving the franchise destroy any good vibes that could come from the move.
So I don’t have a fix for you after all Cleveland. I do have some advice to get those positive vibes into your franchise though. It comes from a generation before Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. From a man who was all too familiar with negativity and controversy. My advice to you Cleveland…
Just win baby.
R. H. Adams writes about the NBA and NFL for MFST. You can follow him on twitter @bo_adams67
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