This has been a high profile week for the National Football League. Thanks to a San Francisco quarterback who cited racism for his refusal to stand during the pre-game playing of the National Anthem, pro football has caught the attention of people who previously couldn’t have spelled Kaepernick if you spotted them the first eight letters.
A White House statement called Colin Kaepernick’s perspective “objectionable.” Race car driver Tony Stewart called him an idiot and tennis player John Isner said he was “pathetic.” Donald Trump suggested he should “find another country that works better for him” and Springfield’s John Legend called the Star-Spangled Banner “a weak song.”
Even Kaepernick’s estranged birthmother chastised him in a tweet for “disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings.”
Meanwhile, although it only has rated minor headlines, it turns out there’s a pending NFL development: The 2016 season is about to begin. And apparently there’s nothing those of us who remain as fans of the Cleveland Browns can do to prevent it.
Traditionally, this is the week in which Browns fans entertain high, or at least medium, hopes, only be disappointed as the season progresses and the team proves to be lousy once again. But, based on the available evidence, this season will be different — this season there should be hardly any hope to start with. And those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
At the starts of previous seasons, we pegged our hopes to the fact that the team had a new head coach. This year the Browns have their ninth new head coach in 16 seasons; the combined record of the previous eight was 87-185.
We might be optimistic because there was a new starting quarterback. But in 16 seasons there have been 24 new starting quarterbacks; only one of them made it to a playoff game.
Some years we felt that the team’s latest top draft choices had to be an improvement over its previous choices. The Browns’ last four top draft choices were Barkevious Mingo, Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Phil Taylor; what they all have in common is that none of them lasted more than four seasons in Cleveland.
When the Browns open their season in Philadelphia Sunday it will have two used quarterbacks, its most talented player has spent most of his career suspended for drug house and all you can say about their offense is that it may not be as toothless as their defense.
And after a few games, the only likely reason to watch a Browns game may be to see of any of their players are sitting down during the National Anthem.