In 1999, the Browns used the 29th spot in the expansion draft on Scott Milanovich of the Buccaneers and then selected Tim Couch No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. Milanovich never threw a pass for the Browns, and Couch lasted only five seasons, going 22-37 with 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions.
The Browns have had 26 other starting quarterbacks besides Couch, yet to find a franchise signal caller.
But the Browns could have had that guy in 1999 when the Rams left Kurt Warner unprotected in the expansion draft. Warner, of course, was a nobody then, having thrown only 11 career passes.
Warner said Thursday nothing would have changed for him, except the team he played for, but the Browns would have won a Super Bowl with him if they had foresight.
“Had I gone to Cleveland, how would my career be different? I have no idea,” Warner said on a Pro Football Hall of Fame conference call. “It would have been fun to win a Super Bowl in Cleveland, though. But I think when you’re going through the process, and you get to this point I always felt like wherever I was, I would be successful. A lot of people I think when they see my career, they hear or they remember sat on the bench for four years in college, got cut by the Packers, worked in a grocery store and then won the Super Bowl. That’s kind of the timeline that people see when they hear Kurt Warner. When I look at the timeline, I look at it and say, ‘Played one year in college, was player of the year in my conference, I played three years in Arena Football, went to the Arena Bowl twice and was voted the best quarterback in the league all three seasons, went to Europe for a year and was the top quarterback statistically the season I played there. So I look at it and say every time I played I was successful. Everybody else looks at it and says he didn’t play very much. So there were two different perspectives on it.
“So had I gone to Cleveland, I would have expected nothing else except to have success, somehow, someway, some form. Had I been on the field, I would have expected to play well and have success. . . . I believe had I gone there and had a chance to play, I would have helped that franchise go to places they’ve never been before. Whether it’s arrogance or confidence or whatever you want to call it, that was my mentality when I stepped between the lines on a football field that I was going to make my team and somehow, someway, I was going to find a way to succeed.”
Things worked out just fine for Warner. Trent Green got hurt; Warner got his chance and won a Super Bowl for the Rams, and he enters the Hall of Fame in the Class of 2017. Meanwhile, the Browns’ search for a quarterback continues.