Failure hurts more when there is every reason to succeed. The finish to the Cleveland Browns season stings much more than usual because the bright future of promise is now cloudy. Troubled Brown’s wide receiver Josh Gordon and first round draft pick cornerback Justin Gilbert were suspended before Sunday’s lose to the Baltimore Ravens. It was later reported that Gordon was late to practice on Saturday after partying with rookie quarterback, and unapologetic, party advocate Johnny Manziel.
Since their 1999 revival, the Cleveland Browns have planted seeds of faithfulness but have not seen the harvest. Brown’s loyalists have endured rebuild after rebuild; movie audiences think they have it bad with so many reboots. The drafting of Johnny Manziel, Justin Gilbert and a reduction in the suspension of Josh Gordon transfused Cleveland fans with much needed new blood. It’s not just the five game losing streak to end the season that causes concern, it’s how it’s transpired and who participated. All three have massive talent but to quote Muhammad Ali, “The will has to be stronger than the skill.” Johnny Manziel is a Heisman Trophy winner with a magnetic personality and undeniable swagger but his life is a continuous three-ringed spectacle. Josh Gordon has great talent to go along with his great disciplinary problems. Gordon accrued 1,646 receiving yards in only 14 games in 2013. It’s an insane amount in 14 games but it was only 14 games because he’s failed multiple drug test and has with regularity since college. Justin Gilbert was Cleveland’s top pick this year and was apologizing about his performance before missing another team meeting.
The Cleveland Browns must be held accountable for drafting these guys knowing their track record. The players also have to be held accountable for hearing what’s expected but not listening to wisdom and maturity. Maturation is not a light switch nor does it come with age, it only comes with growth and that’s a choice, making failure hurt all the more.