The Ravens play the hapless Cleveland Browns on Monday night, but these struggles aren't new to the Browns. From the time the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, they have been a cursed franchise. There have been bad first-round picks, crushing injuries and widespread illnesses.
So, what could be the cause of all of these troubles? My theory is the curse of Art Modell.
The Cleveland fans' hatred of Modell, the owner who relocated the team from Cleveland to Baltimore, has placed bad karma on the current Browns team. Until they let their anger go and welcome Modell into the Hall of Fame down the road in Canton, the Browns will continue to languish at the bottom of the league with quarterback controversies and questionable coaches.
If you don't believe in this curse, look at the history of the Browns since getting back into the NFL:
**The Browns used the first overall picks to draft quarterback Tim Couch (75.1 career quarterback rating) in 1999 and defensive end Courtney Brown (17 sacks in 47 games) in 2000 -- two of the biggest busts over the past decade.
**In 2002, the new Browns played their first and only playoff game, only to lose 36-33 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in embarrassing fashion. Cleveland had a 24-7 lead in the third quarter.
**From 2004 to 2008, reportedly six players in four years that contracted staph infections.
**In May 2005, a year after using the sixth overall pick on Kellen Winslow, the tight end crashed his motorcycle in a community college park lot, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
**In 2006, the Browns signed offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley, who was the top-rated free agent that offseason by ESPN. Bentley then suffered a serious knee injury in July during the first play on the first 11 on 11 training camp session.
**In the 2009 draft, Cleveland traded away the fifth overall pick (which the Jets used for quarterback Mark Sanchez) for four picks that were used for center Alex Mack, wide receivers Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and linebacker David Veikune.
**This offseason, the Browns hired coach Eric Mangini after he failed with the New York Jets. Sports Illustrated columnist Joe Posnanski called this the worst coaching hire from the past 25 years. Mangini later fined a player $1,701 over a bottle of water taken from a hotel minibar.
**Last month, two players tested positive for the swine flu.
**On Tuesday, the Browns placed leading tackle Eric Barton on injured reserve with an unspecified injury. That leaves the Browns without their two starting inside linebackers for the final eight games this season (D'Qwell Jackson was placed on injured reserve last month).
Do you believe now?