"Let the people everywhere take heart of hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning." - Eugene Debs, Cleveland, September 18, 1918
This is a good day, Browns fans. We don't know what tomorrow will bring, but today brings reason to hope that at last, as the ol' leftie Gene Debs put it, the cross is bending. After more than a decade of diffident ownership, a parade of incompetent and paranoid front office and coaching regimes, and on-field performances that were so consistently awful and so stupefyingly boring that the bye-week became our favorite weekend of the season, the Lerner era is finally, mercifully, coming to an end.
What will the new Haslam regime bring? Who knows? But let's face it, it's almost impossible that it will be worse than what we've experienced since 1999, so let's indulge in a little hope.
Let's hope that the Haslams believe that the first, last, and only job of ownership and the front office is to build a Super Bowl contender. During the Lerner era, the various front office regimes mostly paid lip service to this objective, and instead placed more emphasis on public relations spin and palace intrigue.
Let's hope that the Haslams took good notes during their tenure as minority owners of the Steelers. God, how I hate that team, but the simple fact is that from the top down, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been the best organization in football since the early 1970s. I can think of few things that give me more hope than the fact that the Haslams had a chance to watch that organization up close for several years before buying the Browns.
Let's hope that the Haslams recognize that despite their failings, some good draft decisions have been made by the Holmgren regime, and that means some folks in the current front office just may be worth saving. I have my own thoughts on who one of those persons might be. I don't want to name names, but I can say that his initials are T-o-m H-e-c-k-e-r-t.
On the other hand, let's hope that the Haslams also know their Shakespeare: "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly." If they want to clean house, do it now. Don't make Holmgren's mistake and keep a coaching or front office staff that they aren't comfortable with around out of a sense of fairness. Life in the NFL is unfair: That's what the guaranteed contracts are for.
Finally, let's hope that Browns fans will give the new owners a chance. Yeah, they own a chunk of the Steelers and by now everybody's heard the quote about Jimmy Haslam being a 1000% Steeler fan. Well guess what? He's now got a billion reasons to be a Browns fan. Sure, he's not from here, but this team isn't heading to LA, Toronto, London or anywhere else, and Haslam knew that when he agreed to buy them.
Wake up and smell the coffee, folks. We may each have pissed away thousands of our dollars on this crappy team over the past decade, but this loon's just plunked down a cool billion to buy them! And that's why I know that Jimmy and his daddy aren't going to be spending Sundays in the fall sitting in the terraces at Aston Villa watching a bunch of Eurotrash play footie. It's a cinch that they'll be on the lakefront barking themselves hoarse like the rest of us, and that may be the biggest reason of all to take heart of hope.