Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Naming rights to Super Bowl trophy belong to Paul Brown

A couple weeks ago I vented my frustration with the Browns by saying the team’s problems can be laid at the feet of the National Football League.
The league made a monumental gaffe in 1999 at the rebirth of the Browns by awarding the franchise to the wrong people, and the team has been an out-of-control disaster ever since.
My advice, unsolicited to be sure, would have been to give the franchise to Bill Sanford, who made a hugely successful company out of STERIS in Mentor, and his group of investors.
Would that have worked out any better than the current situation? Let’s just say things couldn’t be much worse than they are right now.
At least Bill and his group would have put people in charge of the team who know more about football and are better judges of talent than the present ownership.
Evaluating talent seems to be a conundrum that ties the current honchos in knots.
So now they bring in a “new” quarterback who had a sparkling record of 1-10 last year with Tampa Bay with the understanding he will either play this year himself or teach Johnny Football how to play.
(For those who don’t follow sports, and many of you do not, 1-10 stands for one victory and 10 losses, a record that will not ultimately lead to a series of championships. But I digress).
Me, I would have brought back Bernie Kosar and told him to teach Johnny how to play quarterback. But once again, my suggestions are not taken seriously, even when offered in the spirit of trying to be helpful.
But soon after that previous column I got an almost immediate response from Bill Sanford, the man in whose hands I would have placed the fortunes of the team in the hope that something good might have happened.
Goodness knows, enough bad has happened to last until the government abolishes football as being inhumane, or too rough, or imbalanced by not having enough female players.
Don’t laugh. Well, go ahead and laugh. I didn’t mean it anyway. I just get carried away sometimes when I talk about my favorite topics.
Bill isn’t so sure what might have happened had his group taken control of the team.
He thanked me for my kind words about STERIS and about what might have been with different ownership.
“Who knows?” he asked. “However, I am probably fortunate that my investor group did not win. By now I would most likely be dead from a frustration-induced heart attack or a public lynching.”
He added, “HA,” to let me know he may have been jesting.
But he has also been keeping track, from the warmth of his home in Naples, Fla., of the weather reports from back North.
“Look forward to seeing you soon after the global climate change (aka global warming) subsides in Cleveland,” he said.
I detected a note of irony in that comment.
I got another note about that previous column that really tickled me. It came from Dick Shaeffer of Willowick, whom I have never met, but I think we could become pals after reading what he had to say.
“Bingo!” he wrote. “Your column in The News-Herald hit it for a touchdown. Way back in time, the Browns were neighbors of my parents in Massillon where he coached the Tigers.
“We moved to Canton where my brothers went to McKinley. Hence, we were Bulldog fans.”
Later, the family moved to Rocky River, “and we did make it to the Browns first game in Cleveland Stadium. When Modell and Jim Brown fired Paul (Brown) and Paul left Cleveland, he took football along with him.
“Oh yeah, Blanton gave us a good year or two and that was it. To me, that football team down South in Cincinnati is the ‘Browns.’ That team (?) playing in Downtown Cleveland is the ‘Modell Leftovers.’
“One thing that keeps nagging me is the NFL Super Bowl “Lombardi Trophy.
“It very well should be the Paul Brown Trophy, eh?”
I must offer my own comment about that.
Vince Lombardi was indeed one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. But Tom Landry was also a great coach. And our own Don Shula, who won more games than any coach in NFL history, learned many of his skills by playing for Paul Brown, listening to him intently and learning from his every word.
Don would tell you that himself. He has in fact told me that – while sitting at Hellriegel’s in Painesville, as we enjoyed an adult beverage together.
All of which bring us back to square one: PB was THE greatest coach of all-time, and something should be named for him besides the football stadium in “The Natti,” as they call the city where his son’s Bengals now cavort.

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