Remember that day in May 2014? The one when they called your name and said you’d be coming to Cleveland? You put on a Browns cap, flashed the money sign and shook Roger Goodell’s hand.
Meanwhile, bars erupted across Northeast Ohio. Johnny Football was coming to Cleveland. Money signs were seen in every Browns fan’s Instagram photos. Someone photoshopped your face onto Jesus’ body. A local t-shirt company plastered your face across the chests of countless Ohioans.
Fans thought they had the face of their franchise.
Maybe you still are. Because no caricature fits the Cleveland Browns franchise more than a face of reproach.
We knew there’d be risk involved. We’d seen the photos of your college days, when partying most likely came before classes. All the girls dressed in lingerie, all the stories of your arrest for carrying fake IDs, all the money signs.
But many fans say they looked the other way. So what if a 22-year-old likes to party? We were all young once! We lightened up and stopped telling kids to get off our lawn because we wanted to see if you were worth the hype. Cleveland needed something to believe in. The city’s desperation to end the revolving door of Cleveland quarterbacks pulled the wool right over the eyes of its fans.
Sure, fans say they were concerned about the swan photo, the money phone photo, the time some of your teammates were late for practice after you hosted a party. But fans kept their faith in you, because they thought your actions on the field would negate your questionable decisions off the field.
We saw you during Week 1 this season. You connected with Travis Benjamin for a touchdown in your first possession and it was beautiful. For that drive, fans were convinced. Maybe you had finally arrived.
Fans begged Coach Pettine to put you in. They said you needed to play, to see what you can do. They claimed you can’t improve from the bench, that you are the future as the first-round pick.
When you were driving on the highway through Avon on your way home from downtown Cleveland, you nearly blew it when you stirred up accusations of day drinking and domestic violence. Though the NFL found you free of wrongdoing, you were wrong — you put your team in a position that raised even more questions regarding your dedication and dependability. The team needed you, and you put your status on the line.
You did it again during the bye week. You said you were going to relax that week. You said we didn’t have anything to worry about. But it appears you spent your evenings with Dom Perignon and tried to lie about it. We witnessed your self-destruction in an Instagram video that your “friends” were never supposed to post.
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Article Courtesy of WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Deadspin and WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland
Video Courtesy of Instagram and WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland