Best Of 2001

Best Scapegoat: Chris Palmer

Around the beginning of August, if you happened to turn on the television or radio when Carmen Policy, Dwight Clark, or Al Lerner were talking about this year's Browns, a curious thing happened: It was as if, by magic, the trio had showed up in January to take over the team -- a time that happened to coincide with the hiring of Butch Davis. To paraphrase Claude Rains in Casablanca, they were shocked, shocked to find a crappy team had appeared on the field during the 2000 season. The subtext of all this was that former coach Chris Palmer should have done better with what he had. And maybe he should have. There were games in which the team looked as though it had simply given up. Yet it wasn't Palmer who was responsible for Tim Couch's fluke injury, which probably had more to do with the Browns' woes than anything else. Nor was Palmer one of the resident geniuses behind the Browns' first two drafts. It was Palmer, though, who took the fall when it all went bad. This is the way it is in the NFL, and Palmer knew it. Butch Davis, take note.