Browns Diary, Week 16: It's a Wonderful Life
Cleveland 36, Houston 22
Hope everybody had a happy Christmas, whether you celebrate or not. If you’d like to mention your favorite gift in the comments, I’m sure people wouldn’t mind. For me, this whole year has been a magnificent gift in so many ways. Also, no man is a failure who has friends.* Yeah, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” again. We do so every year.
*This is a little bit of an insider thing, but … that word construction in Clarence’s inscription has always bothered me. “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Clarence.” Why so negative? Why not: “Dear George, remember, a man with friends is a success.” Or how about: “Dear George, remember, a man with friends is rich beyond money,” Or, “Dear George, “Potter’s got your cash. You can finally put that SOB away.” Everything about the ending of “It’s a Wonderful Life” is so pitch-perfect, from the incompetent Billy saying, “They didn’t ask any questions — just said if George is in trouble, count on me,” to Martini** saying, “I broke-a the jukebox!” to Harry Bailey, “to my big brother George, the richest man in town!” So perfect. And then Clarence’s dud. I think I know a little something about book inscriptions now. That one just doesn’t cut it.
**I looked this year: I don’t see Nick the bartender there in the final scene. Maybe he’s there and I just missed it, but where’s Nick? He’s supposed to be nice in this multiverse, right?
Three themes emerged in Sunday’s semi-blowout victory over the Texans—in order of importance, they are:
Theme 1: The increasingly ridiculous story of Joe Flacco.
Theme 2: The professional awesomeness of Amari Cooper.
Theme 3: The absurd final 10 minutes in which the Browns tried hard to get in my book, WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL.
Before we begin: We will be starting up our Baseball Hall of Fame stuff after the first of the year, I’ve got big plans for an online baseball preview magazine (more details soon) and we’ve got lots of other great things happening. Plus, I can’t wait to share some WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL with you and a bunch of other surprises.
In that spirit, we’re having a year-end blowout deal where you can sign up for JoeBlogs for 25% off the normal price. This deal is good through the end of the year, so, hey, would love to have you join us!
The Increasingly Ridiculous Story of Joe Flacco
Way back in early December, when the season was looking kind of cooked, the Cleveland Browns played the Los Angeles Rams and faced a third down and 14. The Browns’ new quarterback that day—the fourth quarterback of the season, mind you—was Joe Flacco, an almost 39-year-old father of five who was once a Super Bowl MVP and had to be coaxed out of retirement.
Flacco dropped back to throw on that third and 14 and, on time, rifled a bullet throw to Amari Cooper near the sideline for 22 yards.
And I said, out loud, even though nobody was watching the game with me, “Oh my gosh, Joe Flacco is the best Cleveland Browns quarterback ever.”
I was joking, I think, but there was something about that throw that really did dig deep inside. It’s a throw I never saw Deshaun Watson make, not once. For all I know, Watson was making throws like that left and right in Houston; his numbers suggest that he did, and you can find some amazing highlights on YouTube, but in Cleveland, even when he playing pretty well, I never saw him make even one throw that pulled me out of my chair the way that Flacco throw did.
Same with Baker Mayfield. I liked Mayfield a lot, as I wrote many times, and he had some good games. But that throw? No. I never saw that throw, not with that arm strength, not with that confidence, not with that unstoppable timing. That was a Tom Brady throw. That was a Patrick Mahomes throw. That was a Josh Allen throw.
And Flacco made it, even though he’d barely even practiced with the team.
Flacco played shockingly well in that game, which turned out to be a pretty sizable loss, and I supposed that would be the highlight of the whole experiment. After all, Flacco started nine games for the Jets between 2020 and 2022, and they lost eight of those games, and it seemed pretty clear that the man was done.
Only, it turns out, that throw was a harbinger of things to come.