Earlier this afternoon, we posted an item about a new, and annoying, trend of writers with annual earnings in the five figures to drive the whaaambulance for coaches who’ll earn well into the six figures (and some in the seven figures) this year, even if they have to spend a few weeks not knowing the names of the persons who’ll sign their checks.
We discovered the item in the Akron Beacon Journal after visiting Deadspin and then clicking through to three other stories. (It really isn’t that hard to do it — so visit CFT.)
The thing that first caught our attention was the news that new Browns coach Eric Mangini had painted over a mural featuring former Browns greats like Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Paul Brown, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley, Lou Groza, and Leroy Kelly.
The easy reaction is outrage.
The deeper reaction, given the specific dynamics of the Browns organization, is encouragement. The Browns, like many NFL teams, have a rich and storied history. But too much of that history (specifically, too many of their historical players) have a voice in the current affairs of the franchise.
It’d be different if those former players had collected a case full of Lombardi trophies. But this group of former players who are regarded as deities by fans and, apparently, current ownership of the team have failed to even generate a single Super Bowl appearance.
With the Cardinals qualifying for a berth in the 43rd edition of the game, the Browns are now one of only five franchises who have never made it. The others are the Texans, Jaguars, Lions, and Saints.
Two of them, the Texans and the Jaguars, have partial excuses — neither existed before 1995. For the Browns, the only solace is that the franchise was gone from 1996 through 1998, and thus has missed out on only 40 chances to win (or to lose) a Super Bowl.
So to the extent that Mangini was trying to send a message to the current players that the past is the past and all that matters is the present and the future, we applaud him.
But the applause isn’t rousing. It’s more along the lines of the perfunctory three claps for the kid who just butchered “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in the piano recital.
If Mangini plans to make a tactical break from the past in pursuit of an even better future, he shouldn’t have pandered to the concept of tradition at his introductory press conference.
“When [owner] Randy [Lerner] called me last week it was the same feeling, the same level of excitement, the same level of pride,” Mangini said. “The Dawg Pound, Jim Brown, all those special things, this is one of the most storied franchises in football history.”
So the message, while strong, is inconsistent.


  1. Rumor has it that Mangini painted over the mural because he thought that there were peep holes in Paul Brown’s eyes, obviously drilled by Mike Tomlin.

  2. Is this supposed to be a joke? Brown, Brown, Groza, Graham, and Co. never won a Super Bowl? You’ll be hard pressed to find a group of guys for any franchise that won more league championships. I’m assuming you aren’t dumb enough to be insulting Jim Brown, so I have to assume you really didn’t know how many NFL Championships they brought home. It wasn’t always called the Super Bowl…did you at least know that???

  3. That’s a LONG way to go to criticize Mangini — something that seems to be an obsession for this site.

  4. Browns fans continually overestimate their place in football. 2 playoff appearances since 1990. Nationally, their image in the modern era is that of Marty Schottenheimer and his band of choking dogs. We are supposed to revere their fans, “Big Dog” and his urinally challeneged and unemployed brethren of the Dawg Pound. Pleaaaase. If that’s all they have going for them then I’d rather be a Lions fan.

  5. It’s not like Mangini painted over a mural of Charles White, Gerard Warren, “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell, Spergon Wynn, Jim Shofner, Leroy Hoard, Michael “hands of stone” Jackson, and Dwayne Rudd. THese guys are all Hall of Famers for crisesakes and won multiple Championships (those things before the Super Bowl). Bad premise, bad execution.
    I hope he at least was up on the scaffolding in one of those paper Sherwin-Williams hats doing the deed himself.

  6. This is just tacky. Jim Brown, Otto Graham — those guys MADE the game what it is today. To just paint over them like they never existed is WRONG. They were leaders too. Something today’s Browns severely lack. Rather than paining the mural over, every player should be made to look at for half an hour a day and contemplate WHY these guys were so great. Then go out and try to emulate them.

  7. Talk about tacky. Lavelli just died.
    And somehow the Steelers win with all those former Steelers hanging around. Maybe it has more to do with the organization than what is or isn’t on the walls.

  8. Maybe Mullah Mangini will blow up some 2,000 year old statues of Budah next considering how well destroying icons of the past worked out for the the taliban.

  9. That is a WEIRD way to get your point across to your players. However, it is TIME for the Browns to start thinking most importantly about the PRESENT and start believing in the TEAM FIRST mentality and put away or get rid of the ego hounds on that team.

  10. maybe mangini was just trying to change the browns image. we all felt bad for the old browns for losing their team and for such horrible teams fielded in the past 10 years. maybe mangini is trying to have his team go make a name for themselves. to not live in the limelight and to look to the future. though the players he painted over were great back in their respective days, they are not players on the team today (lord knows the browns could use a few of them). meybe he is trying to show the old guys that this is HIS team and that he is demanding their respect. i commend the guy for coming in and taking over how he has. give it time browns fans, he will build a winner. if not for t-bomb bringing in brett me-first, he would have had the jets in the playoffs this year.

  11. @ Tupa…
    Hard pressed to find any team that won more league championships over a 15 year span?
    You mean like tha Packers: 1929 1930 1931 1936 1939 1944
    Or the Packers again: 1961 1962 1965 1966 1967
    Or maybe the Bears: 1932 1933 1940 1941 1943 1946
    Or the Steelers who didn’t get more but did it faster: 1974 1975 1978 1979
    btw, as good as Brown was, he was only there for one of their 4 championships.

  12. You are all over the map in this article Florio. 1st most of those guys were NFL champs and only Kelly even had a chance to play in a Super Bowl. 2nd The Clevland’s franchise moved to Baltimore, changed there name and won a super bowl. Though the franchise name returned to Cleveland, it was an expansion team, not the Browns franchise that existed before 1996. And yeah, the Lions suck but I’m not sure how that applies to Mangini and his message.

  13. Florio, I’m not saying the Browns have been great over the past 30 years. If you were criticizing Sipes, Kosar, and Metcalf my response would’ve been different. But how do you take a shot at Otto Graham for not winning a trophy that didn’t exist when he played? What did he do wrong in your eyes, retire before the age of 50?

  14. Great point, CMac. That Browns team had only one of the top 5 runs in league history. Shameful. Embarrassing. Jim Brown should kicked out of the Hall.
    Although I dont think pre-1933 championships are the same, as there wasnt even a championship game yet. So maybe we’re back into the top 3.

  15. So Florio, those former Brown players who won multiple league championships are going to penalized because they won them before they called the league championship game the Super Bowl or named the trophy after Vince Lombardi? Brilliant!

  16. Fine…so, Mangini’s an art critic? Who cares?
    But…if Eric tries to screw with the helmet, they’ll find him sleeping with the Lake Erie fishes…

  17. Tupa,
    Florio isn’t ripping the old Browns teams or players, but the reality is that the Super Bowl era means more than the regular NFL title simply because the level of competition is greater. Anyone with historical knowledge of the NFL can tell you this. The talent,coaching, number of teams, along with the quality of the late 1960s AFL and eventual merger meant that the Super Bowl was more important than just the NFL title.

  18. I was watching a rebroadcast of Super Bowl XXXVI and caught a glimps of Eric the Douche at the 1:18 mark of the 3rd quarter serving drinks or something to guys on the bench following the Vinatieri FG that made it 17-3.
    I don’t know how you paint over Otto Graham. Or Jim Brown. Oh, yes I do. When you are lowering your expectations and don’t want to be reminded of what some of the standards are.
    Browns fan, with all the guys that could have been your head coach why in Hell did Lerner pick this guy?

  19. Seriously, this is the worst PFT post ever.
    Come on, Mike. Otto Graham led the browns to 10 straight title games, winning 7 of them. There wasn’t a super bowl yet. He has to be considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. The Browns teams in the 50’s and 60’s are stacked with hall of famers at almost every position.

  20. Ok all you Cleveland idiots the 50s and 60s took place a long time ago. Thats all you have to be proud of, what have you accomplished since then? I don’t see any Lomardi trophies in your possession. You’ve sucked for decades and it will continue just get used to it.

  21. Relax everyone, Mangini plans to redecorate the wall with fatheads of his favourite current NFL players (and one of Kevin James). He’s also trying to convince the team to pursue a high profile player.
    Not because Mangini thinks the Browns need a high profile player, but because he and his wife can’t decide what to name their next child.

  22. Oregon2000,
    Actually you can argue the opposite. You can argue that the league is watered down for the last few decades because of the number of teams and the salary cap along with free agency promoting parity over powerhouses. Personally, I think the level of competition was far greater before parity and a 32 team league. There are a lot of bad teams in the modern era and not a lot of truly great teams.

  23. I hear Mangini is replacing the old murial with a murial of a screenshot of his appearance on the Sopranos. You know the one. The last time anyone called him Mangenius on national TV without saying it in a mocking fashion.

  24. The last few years haven’t been too great in DC either. Maybe Obama should lose some of those statues and monuments. To say these “deities” underperformed shows your ignorance of football history. Every one is in the HOF for some reason. The Browns haven’t had much to deify in the last two generations of fans but that’s no reason to dis the past. The Steelers had a similar stretch with a whopping one playoff appearance (a loss). So should they disavow John Henry Johnson and Art Rooney because of that forty years of futility. Of course not!
    ManWeenie is out of place here, and so are fans that think football started with Super Bowl I.

  25. “It’s the Cleeeeeeveland Brown Mom! The Cleeeeeeveland Browns.”
    What a sad, pathetic figure he is. If he can be a head coach in this league anybody can.

  26. Florio has a very cogent point. Jim Brown has had the ear of the ownership for years. How can you coach a team, be the general manager of a team when the old gods of the team are going behind your back and making it impossible to do your job. Jim Brown may have been the greatest running back to play the game, but his judge of character is suspect. He was the godfather of Maurice Clarett and we all know how that worked out.
    When Bmore got the Ravens, Johnny U and the old Colts came to the stadium, waved from the sidelines and then stepped out of the deal. Having Bernie Kosar and Jim Brown continuously chirping in the ear of Randy Lerner, who cares more about soccer than football, makes the job of general manager and head coach less than appetizing.
    If Jim or Bernie are so freaking brilliant, Lerner should make them GM or HC and lets see how they do. Otherwise if they care about their team, which I am sure they do, they should butt the heck out and let the professionals do their job.
    Just one man’s opinion. Please feel free to flame me at will for dissing the gods of the Cleveland Browns.

  27. Robo729,
    Read my post again, I wasn’t comparing today’s NFL to the pre-salary cap era NFL. You forget the NFL had only 13 teams before the AFL, but had doubled in size by 1970. That alone is a significant difference. In fact, the talent gap between the AFL and NFL was beginning to close by the late 1960’s. You’re also forgetting the NFL was very slow in allowing black players into the league during the 1950’s, when the Browns won the bulk of their titles.

  28. Talk about killing the messenger – Florio’s just reporting on a story of Mangini “erasing” refrences to the Brown’s past – and the inconsistency of Mangini saying one thing and doing another.
    You guys are acting like HE’S the one questioning the greatness of the Browns past – when its Mangini.
    It’s yet another MangIdiot moment – pumping up the fans at his press conference about the storied history of the organization, and erasing references to it the next.
    I suspect we’ll see log with an ax in the locker room next with a sign that says “keep choppin’!”

  29. Way off base, Florio. The Browns tore up the NFL in their very first year after dominating a league that included the Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49er’s.
    I live in the heart of Steeler country and the bandwagon is becoming full again.
    The Browns’ history is strong in the NFL. Leave it at that.

  30. The only thing that should have been painted over was the door plates on the office’s of the Browns Brass,,,from the GM to coach,,,
    read any book on the history of the NFL and you can not go through one without the mention of the Browns,Paul Brown in particular.
    Mangidiot couldnt make a pimple on Paul Browns butt,or on any of the players that he felt threatend by.
    He wouldnt have done that in Green Bay without losing an arm and some teeth
    UP HIS!!!!!

  31. Florio, I’m a big fan of this site, but I was shocked to read that “this group of former players who are regarded as deities by fans and, apparently, current ownership of the team have failed to even generate a single Super Bowl appearance.” Are you serious? I think you may want to read up on Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley, and Lou Groza. They formed the basis of one of the most successful 10-year runs in professional sports history.
    And Oregon2000: “the Super Bowl era means more than the regular NFL title simply because the level of competition is greater. Anyone with historical knowledge of the NFL can tell you this.” Wow. Just wow. Please put the Madden controller down and go check out a book about the early days of the NFL.

  32. OK, I realize that the new Browns were allowed to hang on to the accomplishments of the former Browns, otherwise known as the current Ravens, but I’m having a hard time associating those old greats with the new Browns, who didn’t exist as a franchise until 1999. They moved into the new digs and there was all this stuff waiting for them… things that another completely different franchise accomplished. Measures that the NFL took to try to heal the bruises that Browns fans got from Art Modell after faithfully supporting their team forever, then having the rug pulled out from under their feet for a few measly bucks. Browns fans deserved better, they deserved to have their team stay. Those old great never played for the team that’s in Cleveland right now.

  33. “So to the extent that Mangini was trying to send a message to the current players that the past is the past and all that matters is the present and the future, we applaud him.”
    As a lifelong Clevelander, I couldn’t agree more. Cleveland sports franchises face pressure unlike any other city when it comes to finally delivering a title. The last one has been since the Browns in 1964. Why not come up with a different approach?
    Oh, by the way, Art Modell has had a similar mural put up in Baltimore at the team complex of the same players. Don’t sweat the small stuff Browns fans. This is a completely different franchise after all.

  34. Hey ClevelandSucks,
    I can see why you would take the position that we should just ignore the 50’s and 60’s. Steeler fans clearly have already. For almost 4 decades after the Steelers were formed in 1933, they had a winning record of about .362 and made the playoffs once (shut out by the Eagles 21-0 in 1947). Even old Mr. Rooney called the offense of that era “a joke” and the defense “paper soldiers in the wind”. 4 decades. Think about it.
    Proud of the work that Chuck Noll did turning it around? He was a disciple of Paul Brown. You’re welcome.
    Come and talk to us when you finally have more winning seasons than losing seasons in your existence. Steeler fans have never been able to make that claim. Ever.

  35. So it’s Jim Brown’s and Otto Graham fault that the Brown’s suck? It has nothing to do with the fact that Butch Davis chose Gerrad Warren over Richard Seymore, or Courtney Brown was a bust to go along with Tim Couch? This has to be the stoopidest chit I’ve read on this site ever…. Hell Brown, and Graham are still better than anything that the Browns have now….

  36. What a joke. You’re kidding, right. Of course they never won a Super Bowl. However theywon NFL Championships before the name was changed to Super Bowl.
    Otto Graham played in 10 championships in 10 years, winning 7. No one will match that, ever.
    Painting over this was stupid. The current players don’t care about the past or the fans. If he wanted to get the players attention he should have found a better way.

  37. SetTheRecord,
    Your lack of knowledge is really showing, the early days have the NFL has nothing to do with my point. The success of the AFL meant the Super Bowl era, was indeed a greater level of competition because of the increase in teams, talent, and coaching. BTW, I don’t play video games.
    Another misinformed Browns fan. Like SetTheRecord, you need to check your facts before posting. The Steelers have MORE winning seasons than losing seasons, 35-33. That margin should grow dramatically during the Tomlin era.

  38. Florio, you understimate Mangenius.
    His college roomate majored in psychology – he knows what he’s doing. I’m sure he’s got some plan for a motivational mural to take the place of Browns greats. (Maybe something like a “Calvin” character pissing on a Browns helmet.)

  39. Oregon2000,
    Not misinformation, but my bad for misuse of terms. What I meant to say was that fewer than half of the 76 seasons were winning ones. Browns are 37-20 by your calculation, but I’ll accept 37-23 including the .500 seasons. And that includes our expansion era. Prior to ’99 we only had 12 losing seasons in our entire history. The Steelers had that many by their 17th year. Wow.
    You can find all this at Fun to compare the 2 teams in those early decades. Some pretty startling numbers there.
    Kudos to the Rooney’s for not folding up the tent after running such a horrible embarrassment of an organization decade after decade.

  40. I heard he’s not done painting the walls in the building. He wants to change the name of the team to the Cleveland Manginis.

  41. If indeed Mangini had the mural painted over, as opposed to covered with something that can be removed at a later date, it is ABSOLUTELY CLASSLESS on his part. I can see a new Coach/GM trying to make a point to change the culture of an organization, but to deface a work of art is inexcusable. The players depicted, regardless of whether they won a Super Bowl especially since none existed during their tenure, were legends of the game during their time and most (I didn’t check) are in the HOF.
    I was neutral on Mangini before I read this post, but if it accurate, he is not nearly as bright as a NFL Coach needs to be to motivate players & fans. 3 and out again?
    Mangenius my *ss, Manputz is more like it.

  42. Benito had the mural painted over because he’s putting in a Krispy Kreme stand in front of it.
    For his next bit of psychological warfare, he’s changing the color of the uniforms and helmets to Powder-Puff Pink … it’ll make the opposing team underestimate the Browns players on the field. Brilliant!

  43. If he really wanted to show that the past was meaningless, Mangini should have just put on one of Jim Brown’s old jerseys and spilled blueberry juice all over it.

  44. Cleveland championships prior to the Super Bowl era/merger are simply less meaningful that Super Bowl titles. There were significantly LESS teams playing for the NFL title at that time. In my opinion, Cleveland is a city that is a “historical loser” and a lot of it has to do w/ the fans and their well known negative attitude towards all things Cleveland sports. They get down on their teams when they lose games, and they are a city that prefers to search for excuses as opposed to finding solutions when things go awry.

  45. florio, if your point was that the Browns’ great history was mostly a LONG time ago, I can accept that. However, listing a group of Hall of Famers who won multiple championships before the Super Bowl era and then criticizing them for failing to win a Super Bowl is just stoopid.
    If you want to criticize them for listening too much to Kosar, or even Jim Brown, that’s fine, but go back and read what you wrote, it fails the logic test.
    I don’t know what Mangini’s point was supposed to be with painting over it, so I’ll reserve judgment on that one.

  46. “Tupa says:
    January 24th, 2009 at 4:31 pm
    Is this supposed to be a joke? Brown, Brown, Groza, Graham, and Co. never won a Super Bowl? You’ll be hard pressed to find a group of guys for any franchise that won more league championships. I’m assuming you aren’t dumb enough to be insulting Jim Brown, so I have to assume you really didn’t know how many NFL Championships they brought home. It wasn’t always called the Super Bowl…did you at least know that??? ”
    Thank YOU! Finally someone knows the history besides me. God knows people like “ClevelandSucks” (Pittsburgh Fan) has no idea about the history of the NFL, just what tradition his team with hideously ugly uniforms have.
    And for those brain-deads (ahem Steeler fans) who keep predicting Mangini will fail, might I remind you that he was 10-6, 4-12, 9-7 in 3 years as Jets coach. He started the year 8-3 this year. Go look at old man Favre’s TD-INT rate this year. You will see what caused the problem. Mangini comes into Cleveland now with a young star in Brady Quinn, an overpaid backup in Anderson (who should be traded), and Bruce Gradkowski as 3rd string. (I’d imagine Ken Dorsey will be cut since Grad signed a 2 year deal last year – that and Ken Dorsey is horrible and shouldn’t even be in the NFL). He also inherits an offense with a lot more talent than the Jets had, but a defense that was inconsitent and not as strong. But he’s brought in to smash-mouth defensive minds in Rob Ryan and Bryan Cox. It will be a good turnaround for Cleveland. Immediately? Probably not. But we got the right coach.

  47. I think we can all agree that Mangini is a rat fink and is highly disrespectful. What most people don’t know is that Jim Brown is very good friends with Belichick and Belichick gives generously to Jim Brown’s charity. Mangini may feel this is a new beginning, but you can’t begin without your champions whether old or new they bring a sense of pride and a hope to be a great team again. Starting with new freshly painted walls can take away your vision. Those murals may have been important to the players, if not they should of been.

  48. I think what Mangini has done is putrid…GRANTED the Browns past has not had a Super Bowl…but there are a LOT of fans that saw that team win Championships and a team thatw as always battling OTHER strong teams in the league…GRANTED they did not have the hype of the NY Football Giants..which was an overrated team…BUT Otto Graham, Jim Brown were part of a great tradition..albeit 45 plus years ago..THAt should not diminish what that was…and to just paint white over it..seems like one not understanding the history of a franchise..Maybe he wants fans to remember ZERO of the past..what HE really is. Being one who grew up with those teams…from afar…I hate Mangini more..and wish him ZERO luck there.

  49. @ColumbusWVU,
    Find me a city that has gone 45 years without a championship, and I’ll show you one that has a lot of negative attitudes. There’s a no-brainer!
    There’s a lot more optimism left in that fan base than there really should be by any measure. The ten years of putrid post-expansion football have yet to cause any tickets to go unsold. Truly remarkable in a NE Ohio economy that has seen many jobs and people relocate.
    Your lame remark about “finding solutions” really gives far too much credit to any fan base for having power to change things. None of us are owners; all we can do is watch. Sure, fans can choose to vote with their wallets, but let’s be realistic. In the Cleveland marketplace (as opposed to healthier parts of the country), the only change that could lead to is the PERMANENT relocation of one or more of the three franchises.

  50. … and next up for MangIdiot… a long overdue name change for the team. “Browns” is so drab. How about the “Cleveland Fuchasias!”

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