By Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

Donald Trump’s candidacy for president has provided reporters and comedians with hours upon hours of material which got me thinking about the Browns.

Since 1999 they have been the gift that just keeps on giving.

The sheer volume of moments where the Browns exhibited a complete disconnect from reality has been as astonishing as their inability to find a starting quarterback or actually win more than 5 games a season on a regular basis.

So, in the spirit of the nomination of Trump for president and the Republican National Convention being in town this week, we compiled the best of the bizarre, and bordering on the ridiculous, comments to come from Browns press conferences over the last 17 years.

And yes, we admit that we totally lifted these quotes from speeches that we did not actually write.

Only One Way To Go – The Browns’ inaugural game on Sept. 12, 1999 was a sign of the misery to come over the next 17 years. Following the pomp and circumstance of the team’s return before kickoff, it didn’t take long for the reality of expansion football to set in at Cleveland Browns Stadium, which would later be affectionately and appropriately renamed The Factory of Sadness by local comedian Mike Polk. The Steelers welcomed the Browns back to the NFL with a 43-0 thrashing.

“We made mistakes, and really played very poorly, and we really have no place to go but up,” head coach Chris Palmer said.

Sadly, this quote has stood the test of time and holds true to this very day.

Sugar Ray – Ray Farmer authored one of the worst press conferences in history on Nov. 3, 2015 after the trade deadline passed. Farmer, who had already fallen on the sword for a texting scandal the previous season, was grilled over the lack of production from his first-round draft picks, Dwayne Bowe and his $8 million guaranteed while collecting dust, and how to fix the Browns who were 2-6 at the time but starting to come apart at the seams.

“How do we fix it? We continue to do exactly what we have done,” Farmer said.

He wasn’t done there when he dropped this gem about his job security, “You have to see the movie until the end. The reality is that my seat is no warmer than the day I got it.”

The seat got hot 9 weeks later when he and Mike Pettine were fired after 2 seasons and combining to win just 10 games.

Ifs And Buts And Candy And Nuts – Before the Ravens hosted the Browns on Sept. 14, 2003 Ravens running back Jamal Lewis predicted that he would break the NFL’s single-game rushing record that Sunday against the Browns. He ran for 295 yards on 30 caries including touchdown runs of 83 and 63 yards with the first score coming on the second play of the game in their 33-13 rout. Following the game, head coach Butch Davis authored one of the worst spin jobs ever by praising Kenard Lang, Gerard Warren and Andra Davis, who fell off of Lewis all day.

“The sad thing about is that on 25 of the runs they averaged 2.5 yards per carry,” Davis said. “But you can’t have five carries that make 200 or so yards.”

Captain obvious on line one, coach.

Braylon’s Sucker Punch – Braylon Edwards, selected third overall in 2005 out of Michigan, was known for dropping more passes than he caught as well as his flamboyant personality off the field. The drama he brought to the Browns came to a head though when got into an altercation with one of LeBron James’ friends outside a downtown Cleveland nightclub in early Oct. 2009 enraging the Cavs’ superstar. “My friend is 130 pounds,” James said. “I mean seriously, it’s like hitting one of my kids. For him to do that I think is very childish.”

Edwards, who constantly got into confrontations with teammates, denied the accusations.

“That’s not my character. That’s not me,” Edwards said. “Nobody knows me as that type of guy. I’ve always been the clean-cut, quiet, well spoken guy.”

The Browns traded Edwards two days later to the Jets.

Tim Couch Brought To Tears – Tim Couch was drafted No. 1 overall in 1999 to be the new Browns’ franchise quarterback. Injuries and a lack of talent around him derailed his career in Cleveland which will long be remembered for one night – Oct. 6, 2002. Couch sustained a concussion with just over 9 minutes left and the team trailing the Ravens 23-8. Fans cheered as Couch was attended to by trainers and following the 26-21 loss Couch went off while seated at his locker before ending the rant in tears.

“Dive on the ball, get hit in the back of the head and the next thing I remember the fans were cheering when I’m laying on the field hurt and I think it’s f—— bull s— to be honest with you,” Couch said. “But, hey they’ve got their own opinion. They don’t like me….Been here for going on four years now and I’ve laid it on the line for this team and this city and for them to turn on me and boo me in my home stadium is a joke. It’s a f—— joke to me and I’ve worked my ass off here and it’s hard to take, man.”

Couch should have never talked after that game and the NFL no longer allows players in the concussion protocol to be interviewed by reporters.

All Aboard – The first of many Browns head coaches to come and go for the expansion franchise channeled his inner Soul Asylum midway through the 2000 season as the injuries and losses piled up.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’m driving a runaway train,” Palmer said. “In the first two seats are the owners. In the other two seats are the personnel people, and then the coaches and the players are in the back. And everyone’s saying, ‘Stop the train. Stop the train,’ and you don’t have time to tell them, ‘Hey, we can’t slow it down. We have to keep going.'”

After meeting with owner Al Lerner, president Carmen Policy and GM Dwight Clark following a 3-13 season and telling them he believed they could win 6 games in 2001, Palmer, who managed to win 5 games in 2 seasons including going 2-2 against the Steelers, was fired and replaced by Butch Davis.

Woe Is Me – Phil Savage came to Cleveland in January 2005 with high hopes but he’ll be remembered for how he came into town and left. Savage was tasked with picking up the pieces of the wreckage left behind by Butch Davis and company but one of the very first things he addressed as GM was the attitude of the fans.

“What we want to try to do is put the pride back into the team,” Savage said upon being introduced on Jan. 6, 2005. He later added, “We can’t listen to the ‘woe-is-me’ around town…If myself and the organization believe there’s validity to that, then we’re wasting our time. We need to reshape the mentality of the team. There is a woe-is-me, run-for-the-hills mentality that seems to permeate Cleveland in general.”

Savage won a power struggle with then-president John Collins following his first year as GM and the Browns had their most successful season – 10-6 in 2007 – under his watch but the year to follow was a disaster plagued by injuries and controversy. Savage threw one of many logs on the bonfire in late November following a 29-27 win at Buffalo when he responded to a fan’s email that called him the worst GM in the NFL with, “Go root for Buffalo. f—you.”

The Browns didn’t win another game that season and the firing of Savage as well as head coach Romeo Crennel set off a wave of instability and chaos for the franchise over the next 6 years.

Bottlegate – Dec. 16, 2001. The Browns were 6-6 and trying to make a run at the playoffs in their third season. Down 5 with just over a minute to play Browns receiver Quincy Morgan appeared to catch a pass on a fourth-and-2 at the Jaguars’ 9. Tim Couch quickly ran to the line and killed the clock by spiking the ball. The officials blew the whistle but wanted to review Morgan’s catch – which shouldn’t have been allowed since another play was already run. Replay showed Morgan juggled the ball and it might have hit the ground so it was overturned giving Jacksonville the ball. Angry fans showered the field with bottles and debris forcing the officials to clear it with :48 left. After a 20 minute delay, the teams returned so Jacksonville could take a knee and leave with a 15-10 victory.

As ugly as the scene in the stadium was that day, the reaction from owner Al Lerner and president Carmen Policy was even worse.

“I’m not criticizing our fans at all,” Policy said after, “because I don’t think it’s appropriate today….Depending upon how it’s depicted, people will understand no one got hurt….I don’t think Cleveland’s going to take a black eye over this.”

“It wasn’t pleasant,” Lerner added. “I wouldn’t suggest anything like that, but it wasn’t World War III. I don’t see any terrible criticism that would be called for, for the fans. I think everybody controlled themselves considering that they spent 60 minutes out in some pretty bad weather getting bounced around pretty hard….Something very weird happened so, fine, we didn’t have the most stable people in the world in the stands.”

Holmgren’s Blast Backfires – Mike Holmgren was supposed to be the long sought after ‘credible leader’ and savior for the Browns. Instead he was a PR disaster as team president and the product on the field was just as awful. Under his leadership the organization fumbled a variety of situations publicly and as the losses mounted, he and the franchise jumped to the forefront as the butt of jokes nationally. The tension boiled over with Holmgren’s infamous rant that saw him lash out at the media in anger following the Colt McCoy concussion controversy during a press conference on Dec. 14, 2011.

“Another irritant to me is it’s business as usual around the Cleveland Browns. It’s not. It’s not,” Holmgren said pausing several times for effect. “The problem is, and the tough thing for you guys and our fans is [that] it seems as though it’s business as usual, which is very easy to write, and say. But I’m telling you that it’s not. And you can choose to believe me or you can say, ‘Nah, I’ve heard it before.’ That’s your choice. But when it does happen, don’t come to me for extra tickets for a playoff game. OK? Don’t do that. You’re either with us or you’re not. I’m telling you it’s different now.”

Considering the $40 million he left town with and his reputation for not exactly putting in 12-hour days at the facility, Holmgren’s comments took the cake as the all-time most stupefying remark made by anyone representing the team.

Larry, Curly and Moe – This quote actually didn’t come from anyone associated with the Browns. It came from WOIO TV-19 reporter Dan DeRoos in a press conference held on Dec. 30, 2013 featuring owner Jimmy Haslam and then-CEO Joe Banner following the firing of Rob Chudzinski as head coach.

DeRoos read fan reaction to the firing, which included a reference to the Three Stooges regarding Haslam, Banner and GM Michael Lombardi, from the station’s Facebook page and directed the comments to Haslam. The red hue on Haslam’s face got deeper with every word that came out of Deroos’ mouth before he finished with the all-time greatest question to be asked of the team.

“Jimmy, can you assure the fans, their words not mine, that you don’t have The Three Stooges running this operation?”

It was the most priceless moment of any Browns press conference. Ever.


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