This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
We all know God’s feelings on Cleveland. Like Joakim Noah and LeBron James, he’s just not a big fan of the place. And when the most powerful being in the universe spends almost half a century giving your city the old Job treatment, what’s one more year?
The Browns jaw-dropping trade of running back Trent Richardson, the third-overall pick in last year’s draft, to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for their 2014 first round pick almost certainly dooms this year’s season. Richardson was perceived as the face and the future of the franchise and the fact that the team did not recoup an immediately tangible return creates a real sense of loss among a fanbase all too familiar with that term.
But that’s partly the point; frustration and disappointment are the defining emotions of life as a Browns supporter. Relatively speaking, it’s suffused them with the unique capacity to handle the bumps of this latest rebuilding project. Yes, it always feels like Cleveland is rebuilding, but the crucible of that sad reality has forged the heartiest and most loyal group of fans in NFL.
It’s important to note that neither Richardson or quarterback Brandon Weeden were drafted by the Browns new leadership group of president Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi, both of whom were hired this offseason. And the trade was arranged and executed with shocking abruptness, Banner said at a press conference shortly after the trade was announced.
"It wasn't something we could say, 'Can you wait three weeks and let us think about this or learn more?' We had to decide whether we thought it was a move that would make us better, and we had to make that decision now. We decided to move forward."
That’s exactly what this trade is -- a move forward. Less than 48 hours transpired between the teams first negotiations and Richardson’s trade, a decisive move that suggests vision and confidence in their rebuilding plan. With all the botched attempts at reconstruction they’ve gone through since returning to the NFL in 1999, Browns fans could be understandably concerned about whether or not Lombardi and Banner can convert their bevy of 2014 draft picks into productive, long-term players. But with two first-round picks, two third-round picks and two fourth-round picks, they at least have the capacity to acquire talent through the draft, which has fueled rising young teams like the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
Besides, Browns fans can settle their indigestion from the trade by drinking in quotes from anonymous executives and scouts in a story by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.
"The Colts panicked. A first-round pick? I don't believe it,” said one exec.
"Weird trade by Indy," a scout told him. "A first for an adequate back with injury issues? They could get that player next year in the mid to late rounds. Get an adequate dude for a later pick. Everyone has depth at that position."
Another source on a team with expendable running backs ruefully said "I wish I had [called the Colts], especially after seeing this trade."
And so on. “The overwhelming majority of the texts, calls and emails I received from GMs, scouts and execs was that the Browns did very well in this trade,” La Canfora wrote.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Richardson blossoms into an elite running back and that he and Andrew Luck, 2012’s first-overall pick, wind up as annual contenders for the Super Bowl on a team that’s starting to stock up on young players at skill positions. But until next year’s draft, all the way through what could be a long season ahead, Browns fans will just have to trust that Banner and Lombardi (who’s at least got the name for it) know what they’re doing.
Place their faith in a higher power, in other words.
Good luck, Cleveland.
For a less optimistic take on the Browns trade and its prospects for this season, check out Kyle Bisio's story.