Q & A: Drew Carey on New Year's Eve in Cleveland, the Browns, the Seattle Sounders, and Banishing Irrational Sports Hatred From His Heart

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We chatted with Drew Carey about a bunch of things. Our conversation is below. Cleveland's hometown, daytime TV guy will be in town to help ring in the new year on Public Square. We talked about that, but we mainly talked about sports and John Elway and the Price is Right. Enjoy.

Scene: Hey, Drew. What are you up to?

Drew Carey: I’m skiing in Aspen. It’s really fun. It’s like a beach town, but with snow and fun. It’s like a bunch of surfer dudes with skis. It’s the same vibe and attitude. Everyone’s really chill, everyone’s outside all day doing something physical. Everyone’s really friendly.

Scene: Little different atmosphere than Cleveland.

DC: Except for Brandwine. We’re making due out here though. There are a ton of good restaurants here. They have really good entertainment, and it’s only a town of 6,000 people.

Scene: All the tourists make it fresh every day. It’s like Vegas. You can have the same show over and over again because the audience is new every night.

DC: The houses are insane here. There was one for $25 million. Another for $28 million.

Scene: If you’re saying the houses are insanely expensive, then they must be insanely expensive.

DC: Crazy.

Scene: You want to jump right in to talking about how Alex Tanney should start for the Browns? Or do you want to skip right to talking about the draft?

DC: Ha. I think they knew it was going to be a rough season. As far as I’m concerned, when they traded Richardson, they were just giving up on the season. But you evaluate players and see how it goes. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would say, “Well, fuck it. We’re rebuilding.” I can’t imagine that. In the NFL, there’s so much money. In the MLS, we have a salary cap of just over $2.5 million. That’s for the entire team. We can get a DP or two or three, but that counts against your salary cap, but then you still gotta pay everyone else out of that pie.

Scene: Which is why you guys [Seattle Sounders] had to trade Eddie Johnson. Just couldn’t afford him anymore.

DC: Yeah. You can pay someone like that for the Browns and you’re not worried about still making money. In the MLS, there’s no TV money. The revenue is like a statistical error.

And frankly, I’ve been to a couple of Browns games this year, but like, I don’t cry over the Browns anymore, especially now. After the move, I got so used to doing something else every Sunday. They’re so bad, I’m not going to gnash my teeth. Now that I’m part of an ownership group, I’m really not going to cry over the Browns, or especially over an NFL team. They have a monopoly. They should be broken up.

Scene: A fully different perspective from fan to owner, especially in a league that is so wholly different from the NFL in scope and dollars.

DC: Part of me gets disheartened the way sports media blows the NFL all the time. That’s how it goes, though. The fans love it. There are so many fans that eat it up. I was talking to some Sports Illustrated guys once over a dinner and they said if they put nothing in SI every issue all year except NFL, they’d be fine. I’m sure they were exaggerating a little bit, but no Olympics, no NBA, no hockey, no baseball, nothing but the NFL, and they said they’d sell just as many issues. I get my news mainly from a bunch of soccer blogs and sites that I check every day.

Scene: What’s it like looking at Cleveland teams and how they’re run now that you’re part of a team?

DC: The Sounders, it’s a great tone, a great team. I’ve heard stories of other teams. I see how other places are run, including hockey, NBA, soccer, football. Seattle is a great organization. The Sounders have a great front office. It’s amazing. We’re blessed, so are the Seahawks — we share a front office, Paul Allen’s sports company runs both. Here’s an example: Joe Roth, the majority owner — he’s a really sincere guy to deal with, he’s a handshake guy. There are those people, even in Hollywood, where if you shake their hand on something, it’s done. They might get fucked on it later down the road, but whatever they promised you will happen. Joe’s like that. We have an event for the fans after the season every year — about 1,000 show up — and he got up after one season and was totally honest. He apologized for the season. He said we owe you guys better. He said we didn’t measure up to expectations. Who does that? I’d love to see Haslam or somebody in the NFL do that. It’d never happen.

Scene: They don’t have to and they never will. That sort of accountability isn’t even needed. Browns fans get angry and threaten to not care anymore, but we all still buy tickets and watch.

DC: A lot of Clevelanders are stupid that way. Don’t buy the ticket. I’m not putting the front office down. I don’t think they’re lazy or stupid, I don’t think they’re not up to snuff, I think they’re doing the best they can. That said, if you’re a Clevelander, why do you bother? If I was watching a TV show and the show went off the rails, I wouldn’t watch the show anymore. I’m in a business where if I don’t perform, I get cancelled. If you’re not funny, the club won’t have you back. That’s what I’ve dealt with my whole life. And before that, I was a waiter. My whole working life, if I don’t perform, I don’t get tips. If I was in Cleveland, I wouldn’t buy a ticket, I wouldn’t renew my season tickets, I wouldn’t go to a game. I’d be like, “Hey man, come back to me when you’re winning.” Fuck it.

Scene: Speaking of performing, do you think the group putting on New Year’s Eve here should have pimped that Brooks Parkenridge was coming here? Or do you think saying Drew Carey was coming was better?

DC: Ha. Probably Drew Carey. No one knows who Brooks Parkenridge is.

Scene: So, a friend of mine said that back in 1994, New Year’s Eve going into 1995, when they had a ball drop on Public Square, when the ball came down, it said ’96, not ’95. Guess they wanted to save some money or something and have the ball all ready for 1996, which was the bicentennial. I guess people booed when it came down. Is this shindig going to be better?

DC: Ha. God, I hope so. Did they drop a softball from the Terminal Tower? You have to laugh, there’s story after story like that about Cleveland.

Scene: So, our pal Scott Raab at Esquire wrote a profile of you back in 1999 or so. You guys went bowling. And during the interview, you said, “Fuck Denver. Fuck John Elway. If they want entertainment, they can go watch the Broncos,” essentially. You were that bitter still about the Browns and Broncos. You said you didn’t play Denver. But I saw that you played Denver last year. Are you getting soft on us?

DC: I don’t feel like that anymore. I dropped it. I don’t hate them, I don’t hate LeBron, I don’t have John Elway. Whatever, I don’t want to hold on to a grudge, and certainly not a sports grudge, especially now that I’m in an ownership group. It’s not worth it, man. Why? I feel like a whole new person now, like I should change my name. I don’t even recognize that person vs. who I am today. Who cares? It was a game, we lost. Somebody’s gotta lose. There’s no room in my life for hatred or anything but love. I don’t want to get cheesy, but I don’t want to have hate in my heart. It doesn’t hurt anyone else but you. It’s bad for your psyche. Fuck it, find something to love.

Scene: What if LeBron does become part of that ownership group down in Miami with David Beckham trying to bring an MLS team to the city? There’s still room for a friendly rivalry there, right?

DC: It’s just exciting to see if they can get that going down there. I’ve been to Miami lots of times, I just want to see if they support the team. They had a team down there that folded before — the Miami Fusion. Maybe it would work. Maybe we could get a little rivalry going. Can I tell you a David Beckham story?

Scene: Please do.

DC: I’ll never make fun of him or say a bad thing about him. He’s a hard worker and, like, the greatest guy. He’s, like, the most famous guy and he’s handsome as hell and you want to hate him, but he’s working class. He’s got a good work ethic and the nicest guy with fans. From what I see, with the fans up to his ability, his heart’s in the right place — he’s an ambassador for England for an ambassador for the game. I was on a plane with him once. L.A. was playing the Sounders up in Seattle and me and a friend flew up the day before — chartering private jets is against the rules in MLS — and the Galaxy happened to be on the plane. I’m up in frist class and Beckham’s sitting there with Robbie Keane. It wasn’t a big conversation or something, but we recognized each other, nodded. I told my friend, “Fuck, that’s David Beckham and Robbie Keane right there.” The flight attendant taking care of them was so nervous. She spilled his entire meal on his lap, some risotto or something. She’s like, “I’m so sorry Mr. Beckham. He was so polite. No attitude at all. If she would have done that to anyone else, hell, anybody that I knew growing up, they’d have been like, “What the hell?!” It would have been a riot. He was so pleasant, though, and totally reassuring to her. He was the greatest guy. I’ve always heard stories like that, but when you see it in action, you think to yourself, “Hey, that was really cool.”

Scene: The Price is Right has gotten a fair amount of deep, interesting coverage in the last year — the “perfect bid” story in Esquire, the how-to in Slate, the Deadspin piece about getting on the show. Do you guys read that stuff? Does it make you alter the game at all?

DC: We all read it. I read the Slate article. I didn’t print out the PDF or anything, but I did some of the games they had and some of the stuff was right, but I could figure out better ways for some of the games. I know how to beat the games better than he does. I was talking to the audience once during the show at a commercial break — somebody had just played a game either very badly or very well, I can’t remember — and I said, “There was this Slate article and they had a printout of how to beat the games.” And this woman in front yelled out, “You mean this one right here!” She pulled it out of her pocket.

We know there are games that win a lot and games that don’t, games that people hardly win. Some of it comes down to guessing. And that’s how we adjust our budget and prizes. There’s a game that’s really hard — on air, I’ll say that too — if you see us playing that game a lot, that means we’re over budget on cars. We’ll offer that car, but we’re really trying to save ourselves a little money. And after a while, we’ll go back to games where you can win cars easier.

Scene: So New Year’s Eve in Cleveland. Be there. Anything else going on?

DC: December 30 is our best of The Price is Right, and we offered our favorite prizes of the year. It turned out to be the best Price is Right I’ve ever done. It was insane. The crew was talking about it after — “What the heck is going on?” Honestly, we gave away more money that we ever have in the history of the daytime show, and the way it happened and the contestants, it came together perfectly. Afterward, I was like, “Did that just happen? If you’re a casual fan, you gotta see it. If you’re a die-hard fan, obviously it’s for you.

Scene: That’s why people write so much about Price is Right and not Family Feud.

DC: Ha.

Scene: Can you and Steve Harvey switch jobs for a week? That’d be fun. Two Cleveland guys.

DC: Ha. He’s a great guy. I can’t wait to be back in Cleveland.

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