Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meet 'The Admiral'

As the pain from the LeBron James/Cleveland breakup recedes, there’s probably a good portion of sick-of-being-snakebitten fans that need at least a temporary reprieve from the local sporting scene.

Last week’s already infamous “Decision” – which featured James protectively surrounded by well-scrubbed adolescent props while wearing a $400 button-down from Barney’s of New York - may have snapped the will of many Cleveland fans. Like a wall that’s been pounded by waves year after year, eventually even the toughest edifice is going to erode into nothing, right?

It’s not like there’s much going on sports-wise in this post-LeBron recession, unless you consider the Cavs’ signing of Rockets’ restricted free agent guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet (which was quickly matched by Houston) a newsworthy event. Meanwhile, the Indians, standing as the badly dressed, pencil-mustached “Fredo” of the Cleveland sports’ triumvirate, are mired in a joyless season that seems to have little point or even the faintest glimmer of an upside heading into the future.

Even with all three of our teams on the downswing, I imagine most Cleveland fans aren’t going to abdicate their fandom as easily as the “so-called King” (thank you Dan Gilbert for giving us this biting zinger) did his throne. By the end of this month, in fact, I suspect we will be pinning our championship hopes on a new savior, one a bit more subdued and workmanlike than the nightclub-opening, celebrity-canoodling James.

Fans, I give you new Browns’ president Mike Holmgren.

Holmgren may not be “sexy” in either the looks or public persona department, but honey, he’s all we’ve got right now. To be fair to Randy Lerner, the much-maligned Browns’ owner has received nationwide praise for hiring Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert in an effort to stopper the revolving door that has been the Browns’ front office since the team’s return in 1999.

With James gone, Holmgren’s The Man around here until proven otherwise. For one, fans could proudly point to how refreshingly calm Berea has been this summer. Besides a few hiccups, like the looming suspension of Shaun Rogers over gun charges, the off-field mishegoss has been kept to a minimum, and most of the recent Browns’ discussion has actually centered on football. How novel!

Stability is a welcome change, even if, on paper at least, the Browns don’t look that much better than last year. And perusing the team’s seemingly murderous schedule, which includes out-of-division tilts against New England, New Orleans, the Jets and Atlanta, the city’s favorite franchise is probably facing a 6-8 win season at best.

That harsh reality hardly matters now as we slip into drowsy mid-summer and inch closer to the opening of NFL training camp. What’s important is the perception that Holmgren will right what has been an ever-listing Browns’ ship.

In keeping with the nautical theme, I’m offering Cleveland a nickname we can use for Holmgren. Although the Browns’ prez has the facial hair and, ah, generous carriage of the United Kingdom’s King Edward VII (1841-1910), I think “The Admiral” better suits him.



Just look at the guy: That flushed face and walrus mustache should be commanding a fleet somewhere in the South Pacific. Put a sea captain’s hat on Holmgren (thanks to CST contributor Froms for the photoshop job above) and he could be plying the seven seas as easily as directing a pro football franchise.

Sure, it’s a stretch, but the U.S.S. Brownie has known nothing but choppy waters for most of the last 11 years. If Holmgren’s the man to bring this adrift franchise to port, he should forever be known as “The Admiral” in many a Cleveland fan’s heart.

Trust me, it works.

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