Randy Lerner went from being a mainstay at Aston Villa games in the past to being absent from almost all of them this year as he focuses on the Cleveland Browns. For all the Browns fans that call into WKNR and bitch about his soccer ownership distracting him from work on his NFL franchise, turns out there's just as many Villa fans across the pond worrying about Lerner's work with the Browns distracting him from his soccer team.
However, Lerner has been a notable absentee more often that not this campaign, devoting more of his time to his NFL franchise Cleveland Browns, which has caused many to question his commitment to the Villians.
Despite this, Ulsterman O'Neill has dismissed any notiong Lerner has lost his zest for the club and insists he still watches all of Villa's games back in the US.
"He [Lerner] has seen less games this season live with us than he has done before, but he has seen all the games and gets them at his home to watch," he told the Daily Mirror.
O'Neill admitted he can understand why the 47-year-old has returned to the US and has reiterated that he is still as ambitious as ever to make Villa one of the Premier League's leading 'brands'.
"I don't really have any conversations with him about the Cleveland Browns as I have enough concerns of my own here. But I don't think he has lost any ambition here because of it.
The Harris Poll conducted a survey of football fans (and, apparently, non-football fans) to find America's most popular teams. Yes, you have to take this with a grain of salt, and yes, it's just one amongst any number of polls, but it's still interesting to see where the Browns fall in the rankings.
Some intriguing things: Browns ahead of Baltimore and New Orleans; second lowest ranking for the Browns in this poll since their return; that they were 12th most popular in 1999 and 13th most popular in 2007.
Full results can be seen in a PDF here.
A review of "Browns Rules" — now playing at Cleveland Public Theatre.
By Christine Howey
Stunned disbelief. That was my reaction, with thousands of other Clevelanders’, after Brian Sipe threw “Red Right 88,” the interception that lost the 1981 playoff game in the final minute. Stunned disbelief is also my reaction to Browns Rules, the limp comedic-musical-sketch pastiche by Eric Schmiedl that is now losing yardage at Cleveland Public Theatre.
It’s an honorable attempt to pay tribute to the Browns’ glorious long-ago legacy, as well as abused Browns fans of the past few decades. But Schmiedl and co-lyricist/composer and director Bill Hoffman have only succeeded in fashioning a play that is as comprehensively hapless as the current Brownies themselves.
God knows this task ought to result in several touchdowns; there’s more than enough material to write a play that looks at Cleveland’s love affair with its ever-struggling NFL franchise. This is a team born in glory (eight league championships from 1946 to 1964), but which has never competed in the Super Bowl, now celebrating its XLIVth anniversary.
Poke any Browns fan of a certain age, and they can detail their psychic scars from the Fumble, the Drive and ol’ RR88. And Browns Rules touches on some of those points, along with a few good memories. But due to a lack of wit and a tendency to play it safe with antique jokes and lame stereotypes, this production feels like you’re watching Ken Dorsey (zero TDs and seven interceptions for the Browns in five games) futilely attempt to lead.
Arranged in rough chronological order, the songs and skits address Paul Brown (dutifully checking off his many innovations to the pro game) and storied quarterback Otto Graham. Unfortunately, due to a combination of bad acoustics in CPT’s Gordon Square Theatre and poor sound design, most of the lyrics are undecipherable. But if the sung words are as dull and predictable as the spoken ones, we probably aren’t missing much.
There are 11 tunes, which isn’t many, considering the show lasts almost as long (two-and-a-half hours) as a Browns game. But only one has any musical freshness. It’s ironic that “All Night, All Day,” a catchy gospel number, has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Backed by a three-person combo led by Hoffman, the trio of performers struggles to bring some snap to the soggy material. One of them is playwright Schmiedl himself, who has a goofy, lanky appearance that’s rather amusing. However, his delivery is often so slow and laborious that the humor flits away. Nick Koesters works it hard, as always, but his sweat shows and it isn’t pretty. And Nathan A. Lilly often looks like he wishes he were somewhere — anywhere — else.
From a misguided paean to halfback Ernie Davis’ tragic demise from leukemia at age 23 to an international tour of Cleveland fans that dredges up a fistful of hoary cliches (French guys as gay!, Sicilian guys as Mafioso!), Browns Rules thrashes desperately to avoid drowning.
But this is a play that should be half as long, twice as funny and 10 times more insightful and imaginative about the pain Browns fans carry with them like a lead weight in their souls.
Deadspin had a little photo gallery post on Sunday on sports art floating around DeviantArt. Barry Petchesky's summary: "There's a popular game going around the Internet, in which you search your favorite team on DeviantArt, the premier fan-created art site. Some results are pathetic, some are decent, but most are sanity-threatening."
So, naturally, I had to wander over to DeviantArt and check out the Cleveland offerings. My findings prove that Barry's description was 100% accurate. Gallery below. (Nightmare Wahoo is the clear winner, right?)
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