Belichick calls Browns tenure a success


According to the NFL record books, Bill Belichick had a 37-45 record in his five years as coach of the Cleveland Browns.

It turns out, though, that Belichick was keeping his own score.

He thinks he was 32-34. Well, it does sound better.

He's not counting the 5-11 record he had in his last season in Cleveland.

When Belichick was named coach of the New York Jets, at least until Bill Parcells escapes New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, it also lifted the gag order Parcells had in place.

Parcells didn't let his assistant coaches speak to the media except at the Super Bowl, when the league mandates that they be made available to the media.

At the Super Bowl, Belichick's only comment about virtually anything was, "I'm just focusing on the Packers."

But when he got the job with the Jets, he announced his revisionist history about his final year in Cleveland.

"That's off the charts," he said. He blames the fact that owner Art Modell announced he was moving halfway through the season for the collapse.

He all but pronounced his tenure in Cleveland a success.

"I made some mistakes. I'd do things differently. But [at the end of the '94 season], things were going really good, a lot better than 1990, when I got there, that's for sure."

Well, when he got there, the Browns were selling 50,000 season tickets a year. When he left, they were down to 40,000.

When he got there, they had all 104 loges sold. When he left, there were 26 empty.

He not only didn't win, except in 1994, he alienated the fans with his dour personality and decision to ship out Bernie Kosar at a time when his only alternative was Todd Philcox.

It could be argued that Belichick helped grease the skids for the move.

Modell won't knock Belichick now, but he was candid about him in an interview with an Akron, Ohio, columnist last November.

"To Bill, everything was like the Normandy invasion. I really believe that much of the disdain and abuse I received was because of the feelings the media and the public had for Bill. Every day I thought it would change, that he'd be more pleasant to people. He never did and it hurt all of us terribly," Modell said then.

Now, Modell will only suggest that Belichick be asked why the team lost to Jacksonville at home in 1995 before the move was announced. Modell also points out that Houston almost made the playoffs as a lame duck last year under Jeff Fisher, who held the team together under difficult circumstances.

"It sure wasn't off the charts in Houston. The Oilers announced they were moving and it didn't seem to affect their cause," Modell said.

The coup?

In New York, they were hailing the Jets decision to hire Belichick as a head coach and Parcells as a (wink, wink) "consultant" for a year as something of a coup.

They keep pointing out Parcells and Belichick have three Super Bowl appearances.

What they're forgetting is that they did it when somebody else was picking the players.

Granted, they'll make the Jets better because they can coach. Things can't be any worse than they were under Rich Kotite.

But it's not likely they'll be making any Super Bowl appearances with Parcells and Belichick picking the players.

It's well-documented that Parcells didn't want such players as Rodney Hampton, David Meggett and Terry Glenn in his previous stints with the Giants and Patriots.

And you can judge Belichick's knack for shopping by looking at the Ravens' roster.


Scott Brumfield, the Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman who was hospitalized 24 days after suffering a spinal cord injury at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 3 when he collided helmet-to-helmet with teammate Troy Sadowski, still hopes to play again next season.

It's probably a long shot because he's still walking with a limp and is only 80 percent, but he says he won't give up.

"I think I can play again. I've got to tell myself I can or there's nothing really to rehab for. You don't need to rehab to become a school teacher. I need to go to rehab to become a football player," he said.

Another Desmond?

Heath Shuler, who's on his way out of Washington, is making it obvious he's unhappy about his three-year stint there. He wants to become another Desmond Howard.

"He showed them the talent that he had [in Green Bay] and they [Washington] let him go," he said.

He forgets Howard made it in Green Bay as a punt returner, not as a wide receiver.

But don't feel sorry for Shuler. He's walking away with $8.5

million for three years of doing little.

Meanwhile, Gus Frerotte, who won the job and made the Pro Bowl, played for the minimum for three years. That's part of the crazy system of paying rookies for where they were drafted rather than what they do in the NFL.

Harold Henderson, the director of labor relations for the NFL, is proposing ways to cut down on the huge rookie signing bonuses.

"We're looking for ways to shift some of the money to the veterans and have more compensation for rookies who earn it," he said.

One suggestion would be to put some of the rookie signing bonus money into a pool for incentive bonuses at the end of the year.

Although Henderson had discussions with NFL Players Association officials on Thursday, they don't seem to be too eager to change this system.

The uniform

Remember when Jim Speros of the Baltimore Stallions was sued by the NFL when he tried to use the Colts nickname?

Well, he should sue it for stealing his Stallions helmet. The Denver Broncos have adopted new uniforms and have replaced the D on the helmet with a horse's head that looks like a rip-off of the Stallions' helmet.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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