WRITING IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, columnist Peter King tackles a subject near and dear to the hearts of Cleveland Browns fans everywhere: namely, what the hell is wrong with Brady Quinn?
Mr King makes the reasonable case that Quinn's decision to hold out for better terms on a contract is not going to help him in the long run, and that everyone from die-hard Browns fans to club personnel are wondering why the devil Quinn hasn't figured this out. As if that wasn't bad enough, the rookie quarterback apparently believes he is God's gift to Cleveland football, even though with each passing day fewer and fewer people in northeastern Ohio hold that view.
Mr King writes:
But the Quinn story is a little bit different because, after he was drafted 22nd overall by Cleveland, it was widely assumed his experienced agent, Tom Condon, would want the Notre Dame quarterback to get paid far better than the slot for the No. 22 pick. There's some logic there because Quinn performed better his last two years at Notre Dame than a guy who you'd normally see get taken in the 20s. But the slot is the slot. And the Browns are not paying him like the No. 11 pick just because they had him graded far better than No. 22.
It isn't just the front office that's frustrated with Quinn. Players are usually business-will-be-business guys, but I got a sense a few of his teammates think Quinn is out of mind for not being in camp. And he shouldn't expect a welcome mat whenever he arrives. After one minicamp practice in the spring, veteran nose tackle Ted Washington, whose role, in part, is to put rookies in their place, yelled at Quinn for being such an attention magnet. "Remember, you ain't done nothing yet," Washington hollered. Spirit of the team stuff, yes. But pointed and with meaning.
I'm told the Browns and Condon are extremely close on the dollar amount in the contract, with only structure and early guaranteed money now standing in the way. It's at times like this when an intelligent player such as Quinn needs to make a call to his agent and say: "Whatever we're arguing about right now in terms of structure isn't worth it. I need to be in camp and I need to be in camp yesterday."
Compounding the problem is that Quinn did an autograph show in Cleveland earlier this summer and charged $75 per autographed photo. Talk about rubbing the locals the wrong way. That, combined with this ill-advised holdout, led one Browns insider to tell me the team wouldn't be surprised when Quinn finally reported to training camp, there would probably be a segment of fans on hand that would boo him. It's absolutely amazing that Quinn, who could have run for mayor in May, now would be lucky to get elected dog-catcher.
It is The Rant's professional opinion that Quinn is a coddled and mediocre quarterback, whose collegiate performance was not indicative of any great talent but rather the efficacy of the Notre Dame squad on which he played. It is also The Rant's opinion that Quinn, who got his ass beaten like a steel drum when he faced better collegiate squads at Michigan, USC and LSU, is this year's Ryan Leaf Waiting to Happen.
This is not to condemn the Browns for choosing Quinn in the first round of the NFL draft. Not at all. The Browns were extraordinarily clever, in my mind, to trade draft slots to the Dallas Cowboys for the chance to pick up Quinn. They had already done great picking Joe Thomas, the offensive lineman, in the first round and so to pick up Quinn later in that round was an inspired choice.
However, it seems strange the Quinn camp doesn't recognize just how far the Browns went out on a limb for their man. After all, had the Browns not drafted Quinn in the first round, it seems perfectly conceivable to think the Great White Hype could well have fallen into the second round of the draft, in which his earnings potential would be impacted even more than it already has been. Yet Quinn's agent apparently believes his client deserves to get paid like one of the draft's top choices. This is unrealistic at best and insanity at worst.
The reason Quinn went at No. 22 was because a lot of NFL teams took a look at Quinn and reasonably decided he wasn't all that special. It also seems doubtful the Browns thought Quinn would be a panacea for their woes -- after all, they already had two somewhat decent quarterbacks in the persons of Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson. As such, Cleveland's choice of Quinn was nothing more than a value proposition, a chance to get a potentially good quarterback on the cheap. If it paid off, great; if not, Quinn was trade bait. For, as Mr King noted in his column, Quinn hasn't done anything yet.
I had not heard the story that Quinn had charged $75 for autographed photos while in Cleveland. However, knowing the northeast Ohio area as I do, I can imagine people looked upon this as a special sort of perfidy, a shameless and wretched act committed solely for personal gain and without consideration of the fans' feelings. It undoubtedly came off as a move reminiscent of Art Modell, whose popularity in northeastern Ohio is a few steps below that of syphilis. In hindsight, it may not have been the best decision for Quinn.
As for this holdout business, if not ended soon, it will also prove not to have been the best decision for Quinn. The boy and his entourage apparently believe Cleveland needs them more than they need Cleveland, but I think that opinion is based on a grave misreading of both the Browns organization and, perhaps more importantly, the Browns' fans. After all, this is a team that has suffered for years and the idea that Cleveland's downtrodden fans will warm to Quinn like a campfire in the Yukon doesn't carry a lot of water. Cleveland's fans are going to want results, results and more results before they open their arms up to the brat, and if they don't get them they'll have no qualms about running him out of town on a rail.Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 31, 2007 11:14 PM | TrackBack