Laugh Cleveland, this is going to be funny

Published 11:11 am Monday, March 28, 2016

There’s a columnist in Cleveland, Ohio’s hometown newspaper, the Plain-Dealer, who says the only thing that town needs more than a championship – any championship! – is a sense of humor.

After all, it’s been 52 years since they had one – in anything – and that’s what has those two premises so painfully intertwined.

Well, maybe the town some call “the mistake on the Lake (Erie)” got one this week with the signing of former Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III.

I’m not going to commit heresy in talking bad about RG3 because this area we dwell in is prime Redskins country, and too many ‘Skins fans that I know also know where I live.

The former number-two overall NFL Draft pick – that Washington paid a king’s ransom for – went from Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 to not taking a single snap in a game three years later.

In fairness, he got injured in the 2012 playoffs, played through the pain, but was mostly ineffective during that span, rushed his rehab to get back on the field for any number of questionable reasons from social media to endorsements, and along the way he clashed with not one, but two head coaches in Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden.

He was released March 7 in a move not surprising after Kirk Cousins took over the starting duties and led the team to the NFC East title then picked up a $20 million payout thanks to getting the franchise tag for next season.

Maybe Griffin was back to being his old RG3 self with one of his comments at his introductory press conference at the announcement of his signing a two-year $15 million contract with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday.

“What happened there would break a lot of people,” RG3 said.

In Cleveland, RG3 joins a franchise living in its own hurricane: the town’s title drought and new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam trying to be the next Jerry Jones.

But there may be some salvation in RG3’s teaming up with new Browns coach Hue Jackson: he’s got a heck of an opportunity to work his way back into a starter’s role.

Jackson has a reputation as one of the NFL’s most creative offensive minds. He proved that in Oakland, though Al Davis’ heirs didn’t give him enough time. But Jackson is also accustomed to pocket passers, a la Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton. RG3 has not proven to be that kind of quarterback and might have little chance to become one in Cleveland with their make-shift offensive line. Granted, a two-year contract permits little time to learn a new team’s playbook and adapt to a talent-poor club where his best offensive target, receiver Josh Gordon, is still suspended. Added to that is RG3’s injury history which isn’t likely to improve if once again he’ll be running for his life.

He won’t have ‘Johnny Football’ Manziel to beat out for the job, though Josh McCown is still around, along with Austin (who??) Davis.

Griffin improves the Browns’ depth chart, but he certainly doesn’t stabilize it; moreover, he complements it. He isn’t the featured attraction, at least not until he proves he can play, and the town has been down that circus road already.

If Cleveland sees RG3 as an option and not a fix, what do they have to lose? Then again, if they see him as a fix based on his last few years in Washington, Jackson’s stay in Lakeside may be shorter than the one the coach had in Oakland.

In any case, this off-season in Cleveland ought to be something to smirk about.


Gene Motley is a Staff Writer with Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7211.