Once again the Cleveland Browns have returned as the most dysfunctional team in the NFL. And it happened quickly, starting in the middle of last week when quarterback Baker Mayfield unloaded on reporter Tony Grossi, whose only sin in Mayfield’s eyes, is that Grossi didn’t like drafting Mayfield over a year ago when he was selected by the Browns with the first overall draft pick.
Truth be told, Grossi is a friend of mine. Many of you may remember he was ‘Gloom’ on the ‘Doom & Gloom Show’ I hosted in the Art Modell and Bill Belichick closing seasons in Cleveland. I believe Mayfield planned his verbal attack based on the way he conducted the interview up until that time.
Then came the post-game threats after the Denver loss, when defensive back Jermaine Whitehead threatened talk host and former NFL player Dustin Fox as well as a number of fans. Again, as a disclaimer, I work with Fox on 92.3 The Fan. In addition, this is the week Kareem Hunt can return after an eight game suspension for his role in an assault caught on tape.
This all comes down while head coach Freddie Kitchens is under fire after another loss. As I’m writing this, Kitchens is still the head coach, but it is a fluid situation. What happened to the good old days when covering the Browns at this time of the year included the “turkey chase?” In the 1970s and 1980s, a note was put on a bulletin board in the locker rocker room telling the players that fans were offering free turkeys. Rookies were instructed to pick them up from some farm, sometimes in Lodi, Mantua, Ashtabula or another relatively far location from Cleveland. After exhaustive searches, before cell phones and GPS, the rookies would return empty handed.
Long-time Browns fans remember Joe “Turkey” Jones as the defensive end who almost killed Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most thought he got the nickname for the way he ran. Nope. He got it because he fell for the scam two years in a row.
Or what about George Ratterman, backup quarterback to Otto Graham? Paul Brown had one of the water boys relay a play during a timeout. Ratterman told the kid to tell Mr. Brown what he could do with that play.
Then there was equipment manager Morrie Kono. A veteran player asked a rookie to get him a shoe lace from Kono, who responded to the request by saying, “right or left?”