As a longtime Browns fan and season ticket holder since the 1980's I lived through the last 20 painful years of the Browns return so didn't expect much except rehashing from this book. But I was surprised at how much I had forgotten and how much I never knew.
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I read all the sports pages and magazines of course and listened to the radio and TV spots as they happened but this book brings it all back. Credit Terry Pluto with that. Pluto's bio says "Terry Pluto is a sports columnist for the Plain Dealer. He has twice been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the nations top sports columnist for medium-sized newspapers. He is a nine-time winner of the Ohio Sports Writer of the Year award and has received more than 50 state and local writing awards. In 2005 he was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame."
He had previously written False Start: How the New Browns Were Set Up to Fail which told how the NFL hamstrung the new franchise. This is a continuation of that. There are many familiar stories but it was fun to be reminded. As someone who bought a PSL and 4 season tickets for the new team I have always believed that we fans did not cheer when Tim Couch got injured. It was cheering for a change and hopeful improvement but never for the injury.
It is amazing and frustrating to see the absolute waste of so many #1 and other very high draft picks. You would think they would have got lucky once or twice (before the Joe Thomas pick of course). I don't blame them for taking Spergon Wynn before Tom Brady. The whole league made the Tom Brady mistake. I am talking about people like Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, Trent Richardson, Barkevious Mingo, Justin Gilbert, Brandon Weeden and of course Johnny Football himself, Johnny Manziel.
The front offices and the coaches were a perfect storm of problems. An owner (Al Lerner) who died and left the team to a son who didn't want it (Randy Lerner). A coach with panic attacks - Butch Davis and on and on. Reading about the Mike Holmgren saga again will make any Browns fan's blood boil.
I thought I would just skim the book but I ended up reading it thoroughly and enjoyed the reminders and new material - painful as it was. (Josh Gordon could have been one of the greatest of all time!)
I did skim over the several sections of comments from fans. I've had enough conversations with my friends that I didn't need to read them.
Pluto manages to capture the last 20 years in a way that fans will be drawn to. Fortunately 2018 was a franchise changing year (hopefully) so Pluto's next book can be about the transformation and road to the Super Bowl.
Reviewed by Dan Hanson
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