"The Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex is located in Berea, Ohio, on 13 acres of land. The facilities include a recently remodeled administration building of 76,000 sq. ft., a field house of 60,000 sq. ft. with a 70-yard field, three regulation-size natural grass practice fields and a field maintenance building. The building originally opened in August 1991..."
From: "The Cleveland Browns Official Web Site, training facility link"
A building of this magnitude doesn't go from foundation pour to occupancy overnight. I am no construction contractor or architect, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express. Let's just suggest that construction had to have started twelve to eighteen months earlier to open in August 1991. In 1989, the Cleveland Browns had an unbroken link back to their origin in 1946. During this era, they had played 44 seasons. In that time, they had exactly 6 losing seasons not counting strike shortened years. That's right, they had losing seasons about 14% of the time. While they couldn't quite get over the hump that were the Denver Broncos, they were coming off conference championship game appearances three of the past four seasons, boasted a healthy all-time winning record advantage against their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and were the undisputed sports darlings of Cleveland. While the title drought was going on a quarter century, the franchise boasted eight titles in the league they played and had a fan base among the most respected in the NFL.
"The facility also boasts a 1,280 sq. ft. team meeting room with 102 theater seats, individual meeting rooms for position meetings, a 2,700 sq. ft. players' locker room with 61 permanent lockers and room for accommodating temporary lockers and a restaurant-style kitchen for meal preparation."
Starting in 1990, you could say things changed for the worse. In the next six seasons, the Browns had only one year above .500. They had losing records over 83% of the time. They made the playoffs once. Even future Hall of Famer Bill Bellichick turned in a losing record. The owner claimed he was going broke. The love affair between the fans and the team, and the city and owner, soured. Just five years after the facility opened, the unthinkable happened.
The Cleveland Browns were allowed to move to Baltimore, Maryland.
" (It) ... was renovated in the spring of 1999 to accommodate the return of the Browns. Renovations include a new owner's suite, new practice fields, a new fenced-in parking lot and refurbished offices and meeting rooms."
In 1998 Al Lerner and Carmen Policy were selected as the winning bidders to own an expansion franchise known again as the Cleveland Browns. They moved back into the Berea complex as team headquarters and the year-round training site. This year is the tenth season this expansion franchise has been in existence. The trail of jetsam and flotsam of this shipwreck is as follows:
On October 20th, The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Bill Lubinger reported in "Are Staph Infections Plaguing the Browns?", that there have been seven serious cases of staph infection on the Browns in five years. In the same article, the organization refers to these as "a couple of cases" and maintains that they have, I'm paraphrasing, taken extraordinary efforts to stamp out the staph. Who am I not to believe them and question their competence and motivation to protect the millions of dollars they annually invest in their meat, err, players?
In the words of Bill Belichick, "all I know is what I see". Pre-Berea training facility? The Browns are a story book franchise. There's the Ernie Davis tragedy, and some seasons in the post-Collier Era in the 70's were kind of lean (relatively speaking compared to the rudderless suck of the expansion iteration), but all in all, this was a model (if not Modell) organization. Since the organization laid keel to the Berea headquarters and they moved in? Complete disaster.
Late fall is the season of superstition. It is the time of full moons, vampires and other monsters. It brings to mind witches and their incantations and spells. Now call me superstitious, but was Berea built on a freaking Native American burial ground, or what? Jumpin' Jehovah on a pogo-stick, if Jim Morrison visited, would he have a spiritual visionary experience? Could Shirley and Dennis have some conversations with those I cannot see? Does any of this explain the short-lived all brown pants? What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here? Call me crazy. Call me irrational. Call me Fox Mulder. But dang dudes, by about the fifth time Jodie the pig started talking, blood started coming out of the walls, and the monsignor got run, even James Brolin left that crib in Amityville, know what I'm saying?
GET OUT !
Maybe it's time humans took the hint.
"Beetlejuice.... Beetlejuice...." Say it one more time and maybe they'll move along.
Happy Halloween. Most teams' fans are starting to talk about their team's positions for playoff runs at the season's half-way point. Let's talk NFL draft.