In the midst of bad news and economic despair, the owners of the Cleveland Browns are providing much needed comic relief. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to have enough money to do anything you want, even owning a professional sports team, this is a case study in why “money can’t buy you love, and apparently it can’t buy commons sense either.”
The Browns went all in on Deshawn Watson. They signed him to a “fully guaranteed” five-year contract worth $230 million, allegedly the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history. They also gave Houston three first-round draft picks, and two other selections.
So how did this happen? Deshawn Watson requested a trade from the Texans, following the 2020 season, just months after he signed a $111 million guaranteed extension. Then the first allegation of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was on the Houston Texans roster in 2021 but did not play one single snap. They were desperate to trade him and terrified that they would have to continue eating his bloated salary while he sat, somewhere else, other than on the bench.
By the way, Watson allegedly has a no-trade clause in his contract. In case you were wondering, the Brown’s fans, one of the most loyal fan bases in NFL history, are not amused. The Browns invited fans to participate in a “question and answer” session and the results were so bad that the Browns deleted the post. This is so over the top that even the New York Times noticed. The New York Times is wrong about most things, but perhaps this is one of those rare exceptions when they got it right:
My favorite response was by Annastasia Meadors, moderator of a Facebook group for Browns fans:
“Who wants a supposed sexual predator as a football quarterback star for their team? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“We are the laughingstock of the N.F.L.,”
“I love the team,” she said. “I can’t say I’m not going to support the Browns, that I’m not going to be a fan anymore, because one player doesn’t make the team. We have a ton of talent on this team. We’re going to get there. It’s just a shame we sold our soul to Deshaun Watson.”
It must be pointed out that the Houston Texans were not exactly saints regarding Mr. Watson. He allegedly met at least 66 women for massages, over a 17-month period, and had help from the Texans, including non-disclosure agreements. The only difference is when this all became public, the Texans had at least enough sense to be embarrassed. The Browns are still trying to figure out why this was a problem.
The reality is that IF Deshawn Watson does get to play this year, which is far from guaranteed, he better be absolutely outstanding. The Browns not only need to win, but they also need to win big, and he has to be the star. Imagine yourself another player on the Browns. You have a really great year. But you are told, they can’t offer you more money because they spent it all on Deshawn Watson. There is a reason why smart quarterbacks, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers spend big bucks on expensive gifts for offensive linemen. They know that if the offensive line does not block, the quarterback is running for his life, with no guarantee of good results. Although quarterbacks get the big bucks, smart quarterbacks never forget this is still a team sport.
I still remember when the Green Bay packers went all in on John Hadl. The Packers were desperate for a quarterback, so they gave up FIVE draft picks for him. Hadl had been good, in 1963, but by 1974 he was 34 years old. Ironically Hadl stunk up the field, earlier that year, playing Green Bay. That should have been a sign. Eight days later, the Packers traded for John Hadl. Did no one watch that game? Dan Devine, who orchestrated this deal, wisely left Green Bay for Notre Dame. Bart Starr became the new head coach, but it is hard to coach successfully without any players.
I remember being cautiously optimistic about John Hadl. Then he fell down stepping backwards from the snap and fumbled the ball. Being a Packer Backer during the 70s and 80s was arguably harder than being a Jimmy Carter supporter. The results were equally dismal, but Carter screwed up the entire country, while Hadl only destroyed the hopes of the Green Bay Packers.
The real question is how supposedly smart and obviously wealthy people can make such stupid mistakes. The answer, again, is that the truly incompetent aren’t competent enough to know they are incompetent. Joe Biden really thinks he is doing a great job. Just ask him. Most of us have figured out that when you meet someone who knows more than you, shut up and listen. It is equally important to avoid input from people who want to convince you they know something, without actually being an expert.
I am reminded that fortune favors the brave, in modern times, people brave enough to avoid making dumb investments because high-priced celebrities tell them it’s a great opportunity. That those brave enough to invest, will become fabulously wealthy. Those who fear the risk, risk losing the opportunity of a life time. Except Bitcoin wasn’t the opportunity of a lifetime, other than the opportunity to make a really bad investment.
Today things were so bad that Bitcoin withdrawals were temporarily suspended. Earth to celebrities, they only suspend withdrawals when everyone wants to divest themselves of any money stupidly invested in Bitcoin as soon as possible. Odds are it won’t be soon enough.
But it may be a better investment than having ownership in the Cleveland Browns. Imagine this, owning a professional sports team and mucking it up so bad, you have to sell the team at a loss. Hard to imagine, but then the Browns could actually achieve this.