The Cleveland Browns forgot one thing when they unveiled plans to construct a state-of-the-art scoreboard at First Energy Stadium.
No matter how big and clear the video board is, you need to have something worthwhile to put on it. The way the Browns look today, it would be offensive to the tastes of fans to show replays of the NFL's most dysfunctional franchise.
Never was that more evident than during the press conference last Monday in which owner James Haslam and CEO Joe Banner fielded a battery of hard-hitting questions about the firing of coach Rob Chudzinski after only one season. To watch these two crafty, intelligent men that are accustomed to controlling every situation they're in haplessly try to explain their decision was absurd reality television at its finest.
There was talk about not seeing progress in the second half of the season and concerns about going ahead on the course Chudzinski had laid out. Banner, who normally comes off well in these settings, appeared foolish as he referenced his 19 years of success working with Andy Reid in Philadelphia and shooting down the premise that the front office didn't make the necessary offseason moves to give Chudzinski a fighting chance.
The draft was a colossal swing and a miss, topped off with a rookie performance by Barkevious Mingo that has bust written all over it. Linebacker Paul Kruger, the gem of the free-agent crop, showed why Ravens coach John Harbaugh only played him on 17 downs in last year's Super Bowl.
Chudzinski lost the services of running back Trent Richardson to a trade with the Colts after the second game of the season. The trade looks like a brilliant move now that Richardson has proven to be a fraud in Indianapolis, but that didn't change the fact that Chudzinski was left with Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker as running backs much of the season.
The most impressive new face was defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, who was a force in the early part of the season. He then started experiencing breathing problems in relation to a heart arrhythmia and eventually underwent a surgical procedure that abruptly ended his season.
There were other reasons why Chudzinski was doomed to failure. Try going into the first two games of the season with your best player, receiver Josh Gordon, serving a suspension. Then walk the tight rope that was the run of injuries at quarterback that hit Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell.
Not many coaches would have done much better with this mess, and the ones that would have all have statues erected in their memories. Yet, there was Banner making an imaginary line with his hand Monday to show the downward turn the season took on the company's progress chart.
This has the handwriting of general manager Michael Lombardi written all over it. Lombardi has a history of undermining people he deems expendable.
A case in point occurred when Lombardi was pro personnel director of the Browns in 1990. Midway through the season, the Browns had a 2-5 record, putting coach Bud Carson firmly on a hot seat. Knowing he was on his way out, Carson benched quarterback Bernie Kosar during a road game against the undefeated San Francisco 49ers. It was Carson's way of telling management to take a flying leap.
Carson's move almost pulled off a shocking comeback. Led by relief quarterback Mike Pagel, the Browns scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the score, 17-17. After Ozzie Newsome caught the second of the touchdown passes, Lombardi was seen in the owner's box with a look of disbelief on his face.
Remember now, a win would have made it more difficult to fire Carson, who was seen as a wandering old man at the time. Lombardi wasn't a fan of either Carson or Kosar, and he needed both to look bad that day. When Carson went to the bullpen, it was as if Lombardi was displeased that the ship wasn't sinking fast enough.
The Browns lost on a last-second field goal. Carson was fired after a 42-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills the next Sunday.
Lombardi got what he wanted, just like he did when Chudzinski was fired three days ago.