Last Friday, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports published one of the stranger in-season reports that an NFL fan could hope to read about his favorite team. Of course it's about the Browns, and while none of the answers to the questions raised by it are especially good, they might nevertheless be useful as the team prepares for the 2012 draft with Colt McCoy perched atop its quarterback depth chart.
Bearing the headline "McCoy De-velops Thick Skin After Rookie Hazing," the story details what's described as an "onslaught of negativity McCoy experienced [last season] as a rookie" at the hands of then-coach Eric Mangini and his staff — and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in particular. (Daboll now holds the same position with the Miami Dolphins.) "Daboll disparaged McCoy loudly and relentlessly," according to Silver, "sometimes to his face, sometimes through the earpiece in the quarterback's helmet.
"There were times I had to pull my helmet off to call a play in the huddle," McCoy told Silver. "Guys could hear him yelling, and they'd say, 'Just take it off.' People said to me, 'Man, I ain't never seen anything like that. Just hang in there.'"
Silver's story also quoted "several [anonymous] Browns" as "recall[ing] a meeting early in the 2010 season in which Daboll told McCoy, 'I just watched [tape of] your last college game, and you were terrible. What the hell were you throwing out there? That was one of the worst games I've ever seen. Why the [expletive] did we draft you?'"
Silver doesn't mention that McCoy actually was objectively terrible in that last college game, having completed just over half of his passes for 184 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions in the 2009 Big Twelve Championship Game, at that point unquestionably the biggest football game of his life. No mention either that it's sort of a football coach's job to tell football players when they're terrible at playing football, and that some players call for different "coaching" methods than others.
Daboll wisely declined to participate in Yahoo's slapfight other than to deny through a Dolphins spokesman any memory of saying such things to McCoy. But as much as the former Browns coordinator's treatment of the quarterback might have tended toward the extreme, there's plenty of reason to believe that it was just what the doctor ordered for a player who has taken an extremely sheltered path to the NFL.
If McCoy's anonymously quoted teammates "ain't never seen anything like" the way Daboll allegedly treated him, there's also no way they've seen anything like a third-round rookie quarterback co-author an autobiography with his father. Everybody's read something about Growing up Colt, the book that details how the McCoy family hopped from school district to school district in west Texas so that young Colt could play with "stud athletes" on a team coached by his father, who went on to ensure that "a cover letter pointing out a nice round number of fifty touchdowns in one season" went out to college coaches. Silver notes that McCoy's eventual college coach, Mack Brown, "has a reputation for coddling players."
And per Colt himself: "I had my dad as a coach [in high school], and Mack Brown as my coach [at Texas] — the last two years it was my offense. Then I come here and I'm thinking, 'We're all professionals here.' It was [confusing]."
But of course, not nearly as confusing as wondering what good could possibly come from McCoy — or any Cleveland Brown — talking with reporters about this kind of internal business one year after the fact. Especially given that, by any credible account, McCoy played better under the "tough love" of the previous regime — which seemingly not coincidentally had the Browns playing at least twice as well last season against a slate of opponents that was twice as strong as this year's schedule.
That the ridiculousness of Silver's report is so lost on this millionaires club tells us the Browns locker room is as unhinged as ever. And with next April's NFL draft as quarterback-rich as any in a decade, it also reveals something especially telling about a signal caller who's supposed to be able to make up for with his head what he lacks in his arm.
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