Monday, January 28, 2008

Reliving the days of Bozo-Choke

By Rick Morris

To the long sad list of Cleveland sports futility we must add one more: the looming specter of the first perfect NFL team in 35 years, the same franchise that has already been crowned the "team of the decade" -- coached by a man run out of the North Coast in a cloud of futility 12 years ago. Why did Bill Belichick fail in Cleveland?

The question is often posed by people who did not have an up-close seat to the sorry state of the Browns franchise in the early and mid-90s. Those of us unfortunate enough to remember the coach once known as "Bozo-Choke" purposely designing bootlegs to humiliate his starting quarterback Bernie Kosar, kicking a field goal at the end of a game that his team would still lose by several touchdowns and blazoning in our minds forever the putrid phrase "Metcalf Up the Middle" -- well, we can tell you that the "genius" you're seeing in New England bears little or no resemblance to the goof we suffered through for five interminable years.

It's easy to miss this point on the surface. Now, as then, Belichick displays no social graces. He has a great mind for defense now, as he admittedly did then. But there are many subtle nuances in the job The Hoodie has done over the last several years with the Pats that indicate lessons that he learned the hard way in C-Town. Gene Wojciechowski does an excellent job in this article of breaking down everything that we in Cleveland observed during those painful years. In the long line of infamous Cleveland sports heartbreaks, the huge success of this man after using the Browns as a pathetic "training wheel" start to his pro career has to rank high on the list.

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