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What if Browns were subject to a blackout?

Pro Sports

Zack Martin

Issue date: 9/25/09 Section: Sports
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Zack Martin, Sports Columnist
Media Credit: Picasa 3.0
Zack Martin, Sports Columnist
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It's only been two weeks and reality is beginning to sink in on Sunday afternoons throughout Cleveland. The truth of the matter is that the Browns, despite all the roster changes and differences between Eric Mangini and Romeo Crenell, are still one of the worst teams in the league. Coming off an Indians season that saw the front office trade a significant amount of the team's talent for prospects, it's enough to make a Cleveland sports fan yearn for basketball season.

Many would argue that there is not much that's actually new here; Cleveland is used to losing and has been since 1964. What's new now? This week I examine the scope of the problems the Browns have and look at one looming consequence for fans.

Analyzing the Browns roster explains a lot of what happens on the field - namely, two touchdowns (one of which came in garbage time at the end of week 1) and zero wins.

The team lacks depth and experience at almost every position. The roster for the team includes 22 new players, 10 of them rookies. Most of the team's 2009 draft picks earned spots on opening day starting lineup. On the other end of the spectrum, the Browns have one of the fewest contingents of Pro Bowl-caliber players and of those, Braylon Edwards and Jamal Lewis seem to be continuing their decline.

The simple reality is that the team just doesn't have the right combination of players to make a serious run for the playoffs. Reading those words may seem harsh, but only twelve teams can make it each year. Draft status and player development is, in theory, supposed to lead to a cycle where teams get better, but the process is almost guaranteed to be a slow one.

It's not surprising that the NFL is hurting in this economic environment - in a world where people are losing their homes and struggling to eat, attending a football game is a luxury that many cannot afford. What is surprising is the way the NFL and front offices around the league have has responded. In one surprising and seemingly heartless move, the Redskins sued and won a $66,000 judgment against a 72-year-old woman who could no longer afford her season tickets. Thankfully, the Browns have yet to take such a draconian step, but the team is still subject to the rules of the NFL and, as such, must fill Cleveland Browns Stadium every home game or be subject to a television blackout.

But how long can the team rely on the goodwill of ticket-buying fans? Even the most dedicated Dawg is going to get tired of watching an offense that goes games without touchdowns and has the worst third down conversion rate in the league (23.1%). In an ironic twist, if season ticket holders decide that their contracts aren't worth the cost and opt to watch the game from home, Northeast Ohio may soon find that the game can't be watched from home. If that happens, what happens for Browns backers? The NFL hopes that prospect of a blackout will spur ticket sales, but what if it causes fans to simply take a timeout from Browns football?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are subject to blackouts for all of their home games this year and are already 0-2. It will be interesting to watch the Jaguars this season and see how the fans and the team's performance react in light of the television outage.
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  • What if Browns were subject to a blackout?

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Worst Case Scenario

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