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Cleveland Browns


Cleveland Browns Land 8 Episode Reality Show

Miami Dolphins Hard Knocks which aired over the summer gave us some of the most boring television I can remember. Certainly, it was the worst installment of Hard Knocks that I can remember. Well if you’re someone who likes to see NFL teams profiled (and I am!) the Cleveland Browns are taking a shot on what their owner calls a “softer” version of Hard Knocks  in a series that will air on the Travel Channel. 

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitch reports

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III calls the Travel Channel’s upcoming ‘NFL Road Tested: The Cleveland Browns’ a “soft version of Hard Knocks.” The Browns have partnered with the Travel Channel, NFL Films and RIVR Media for an eight-episode series promising an inside look at how an NFL team travels on the road during the regular season. The first episode airs Dec. 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. “It’s based a little more on the travel aspect of an NFL team, but you do see us practice and you do see time with the players and coaches,” said Haslam, who purchased the Browns for more than $1 billion in October “So I call it a softer version of Hard Knocks.”

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Really cool sports communications job openings in the NFL (as of Feb 15, 2012)

As a communications person, I love when I run across jobs I think would be really cool.

Like, for example, “head of communications” for NFL media.

Position Summary:

Based in the NFL’s Culver City office, the Head of Communications for NFL Media will direct and implement communications strategy for NFL Network,, and other NFL digital media.
This executive will be a strategic and proactive communications executive with the capacity to also be a hands-on, sleeves-up team player. This leader will have superior business and communication skills, and will be successful at developing effective relationships with sports, business, and trade media.

Major Responsibilities:

• The Head of Communications, NFL Media will be a critical member of the management team for NFL Network and the Digital Media Group, and will work closely with League public affairs and communication executives to craft messaging, talking points, and positioning for NFL Network,, and other digital media assets.
• This executive will direct publicity efforts for programming, sales and marketing initiatives and serve as a spokesperson on carriage distribution issues.
• He/she will also serve as the lead contact with sports, business and trade media.

Also, the NFL is looking for aDirector of Media Talent. Based on the job description this would be a position in which you get to tell Warren Sapp to tone down his tweets, Michael Irvin to tone down his suits, and Marshall Faulk to tone down his…everything.

Reporting to the Director, Talent & Production Development, the Director of Media Talent is the key position responsible for identifying, recruiting, managing, coaching, training and developing a team of Hosts, Anchors, Analysts and Guests in all aspects of their job including on-air, on-line, image and off-air contributions such as social and multi-media.
• Day-to-day management of Talent while monitoring the performance of each on-air Talent, providing ongoing 1:1 coaching and feedback for all on- and off-air activities.
• Develop on-air Talent and create individual growth plans and strategies focused on specific opportunities, talents and interests aligned with NFL Media needs.
• Identify and recruit top tier on-air Talent candidates.
• Conduct auditions and/or interviews in order to evaluate potential on-air Talent.
• Maintains a strong network and portfolio of on-air talent and strong relationships with agents to deliver appropriate on-air Talent to NFL Media.
• Develop feedback standards across all production units to ensure regular, consistent and honest feedback; tie feedback to ratings analysis with appropriate input from other NFL Media departments (Research, etc.).
• Develop processes to assess and implement cross platform and cross departmental utilization of on-air Talent.
• Supervise and coordinate with outside consultants to assist in the development and scheduling of on-air Talent.
• Work is reviewed from a short- to mid-term perspective and against objectives, budgets and schedules. Translates strategies for talent relations function into short-term objectives for areas of accountability.

The Cleveland Browns are looking for Digital Media Manager. I assume this person will help the Browns engage with the few fans they have left. I kid I kid!



Kick Returners Complain About Kickoff Changes…And So Do I

Josh Cribbs still wants a chance to prove himself as a returner.

Placekickers just had their best week ever. Kick returners? Not so much.

Fans and players alike were looking for a break from the lockout talk and the NFL just gave it to them in the form of the latest rule changes. The NFL announced this week that kickoff will now take place at the 30 yard line instead of the 35 yard line. Touchbacks will remain at the 20 and coverage teams will get a 5 yard head start instead of a 10-15 yard head start.

What does this mean?

Less returns

Less injuries on returns

Less excitement

More touchbacks

Less excitement

Last season, with kickoffs taking place at the 30 yard line, there were 23 kickoff returns that resulted in a touchdown. The last time teams kicked off from the 35 yard line was 1993. That year there were four such returns.

I can’t boo loud enough!

Kickoff returns are one of my favorite parts of football. There’s just nothing like a an exciting return, especially to start a game. I’ve heard a lot of theories about why 26 teams would vote in favor of the rule change–everything from having to avoid paying returners to setting the stage for an 18 game season. All valid. But I think that the owners heard the phrase “prevent injuries” and knew they could go for it both for financial reasons as well as to appear sensitive to the safety issue–especially since they voted down increased protection for defenseless receivers at the same meeting (SIDE FUCKING EYE!).

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I support anything that keeps the fellas on the field safer. But I really hate when practices are eliminated through the backdoor. In this case, the NFL isn’t really reducing injuries through modification, they’re doing so through elimination.  If the NFL wants to get rid of kickoff returns they should just do it rather than pretending there’s still a real choice for coaches and players.

Even the reduced lead time for coverage isn’t going to help returners enough to prevent their inevitable drift into never never land. One day I will tell my grandchildren about the spectacular kickoff returns I’ve seen. By then I’ll probably also have to explain to them that there used to be punt returns, sacks, and tackles too.

I’m exaggerating…slightly.

But I really am uncomfortable with the way that the rule changes that happen every year send different messages about the game’s direction.  Perhaps as soon as we’re done discussing the CBA there should be a general conversation about the future of the game.If kick off returns are so dangerous, is it possible that they may eliminate punt returns next? PLEASE GOD NO! Hi Roger! Let’s chat about this. Call me.

Seriously though, some teams have invested in their special teams (the Browns being one example as well as the Bears who both voted against the rule) and if we’re going to talk about finances, it might be good for owners to talk about where the game is going before making rules that negate investments some of them have already made. Part of being a good business owner is planning. ZING!

On another note, it bothers me that the NFL refused to release any data on this issue. Football players are injured on any time play action takes place. I couldn’t begin to take a guess about whether kick off returners are being injured more often on returns than in other times they’re on the field.

The most notable return injuries last season weren’t a result of velocity rather awkward tackling and illegal hits such as what happened to Dez Bryant and Ellis Hobbs. Kick off return injuries are also more memorable than other types of injuries and without data, how do we know the NFL isn’t scapegoating?

That being said, many injuries on kickoff happen to other players–not the returners. And even without numbers you can assume that there’s a health benefit to the rule change (reduce contact, reduce injury, 2+2 = 4 and other complicated things of that nature).

Predictably, kickers around the league went to bed while visions of touchbacks danced in their heads.

Graham Gano:

“On kickoffs you do see a lot of big plays, a lot of big hits, and a lot of big touchdowns. I think it will affect that a whole lot. You’re gonna see guys who don’t have a strong leg putting it in the end zone, getting touchbacks, so that’s going to take away chances to get big returns. For us I think it’s going to help us out a lot.”

Jay Feely

“Personally, I’m very happy about it. I think all the veteran kickers are happy about it. I do think it will definitely take some excitement out of the game. It eliminates good returns from guys like LaRod (Stephens-Howling), Devin Hester, Leon Washington.”

Speaking of Hester and Washington, they had plenty to say, so did Josh Cribbs.

Devin Hester

“They’ve gone too far. They’re taking the whole fun out of the game,” Hester said. “The fans come out, especially in Chicago, to see returns. That’s one of our key assets to our team. Fans love our big returns. Not only do they kick it out of bounds when it’s time to punt the ball. But now they get this advantage on kickoffs where we felt we were guaranteed a kickoff return. Now you’re taking that away from our return game. The return game is out of the picture.”

Leon Washington

Oh they hating on me man. Come on now. You know I don’t like the rule. I’m sure sure Brad Smith and Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs and the rest of those guys you know doing a good job returning the balls don’t like the rule. I mean it’s a part of the game that is really exciting. I think fans look forward to it because it’s an instant momentum change. You gotta think about it. It’s the first play of the game or the first play after halftime after the opposing teams scores, so it’s one of those things. I think the NFL is trying to figure out how can they minimize the injuries on the kickoff and kickoff return unit. Also like you said there might be some greed involved. I’m sure teams will try to adjust to it. I was telling my dad the other day you know it looks like there’s going to be a bunch of 109-yard kickoff returns because I plan on coming out of the end zone if that takes place.”

Josh Cribbs

“It’ll be a tremendous amount of touchbacks…They’re already kicking away from Devin Hester, myself, other guys and this will just make it over the top, like no kickoff returns.

“I guess I just have to get my punt game up until they change that. I just can’t fathom that other alternatives were not taken. What it does do is take a lot of the excitement out of the game, decreases the opportunity for guys like myself coming out of college to have an opportunity to play football because scouts won’t recruit guys like that anymore because they won’t need them.”

Just so you know, the Eagles, Browns, Jaguars, Bengals, Raiders, and Bears were the only teams to vote against the rule change.


Peyton Hillis: Everybody Says He’s Pretty Fly…For a White Guy

Every time someone makes mention of the fact that Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis will soon be the first white running back to hit 1K yards in 25 years, I think of that corny yet awesome song by the rock group Offspring: Everybody says I’m pretty fly for a white guy.

Obviously Hillis isn’t some poser…but the media is portraying him like one…like he’s some kind of outsider to be studied.

And when I found out that folks in the media actually asked Hillis what he thinks about this “accomplishment” I became even more intrigued by this coverage. I mean, what is he supposed say? Of course, he said what anyone would say, that he’s human and race shouldn’t be a factor.

Scott Petrak writes:

Hillis’ contact-seeking and fight-for-every-inch style has endeared him to Browns fans of all shapes, sizes and colors. His down-home, team-first, Cleveland-rocks attitude has increased his appeal even further.

But there’s no denying his race has helped his popularity among a segment of the fan base. You can call it close-minded or human nature, but it’s a fact that some people relate better to people who look like them.

When you put that person in a profession/position where he assumes an underdog role, the attraction grows. Sylvester Stallone made millions on the idea of the Great White Hope in boxing’s heavyweight division. The same theory would apply to a female jockey or race-car driver competing in a male-dominated world.

I agree with what he’s saying, still I think there is a slight undercurrent in the sports media of this being some sort of a victory for white players, a sort of taking back of the game. I don’t know that it’s a conscious thing. Sports–football especially–is built on nostalgia. And reminiscing back to the days of Merrill Hoge and John Riggins probably feels good to some sports journalists–especially Merrill Hodge and John Riggins.

On the other hand, if what Toby Gerhard says is true, white running backs are targets of offensive lines of questioning whether they are about to reach 1000K yards or not.

Why is his name Toby though? lol

Thanks to the guys over at Bleacher Report for linking this article by Jemele Hill two years ago about white tailbacks. Hill wrote in 2008 that there were ZERO white RB starters in the league at that time.