September 9, 2012
Browns cancel tribute to Art Modell
By Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency
The Cleveland Browns avoided what could have been an ugly scenario on Sunday, scrapping a plan to honour former owner Art Modell, who died this week, ahead of the season opener.
Modell moved the team to Baltimore after being unable to get a new stadium built and his family asked the Browns not to acknowledge his passing, since a moment of silence or other tribute surely would not have been respected.
Cleveland fans are still extremely angry about how the team left town.
The Browns said they had planned an “appropriate recognition,” but were asked to scrap it.
Modell reportedly never returned to Cleveland after moving the team following the 1995 season.
The Browns had been mildly criticized on Thursday, when they issued only a short release expressing condolences on Modell’s death, and had intended to do something prior to the game before Modell’s sons stepped in.
Modell was beloved in Baltimore and by NFL owners, for whom he made a ton of money over the years by spearheading the league’s television expansion.
Modell owned the Browns from 1961-95 and his casket was placed at the 50-yard line in Baltimore on Sunday.
The Houston Texans were supposed to take a step back defensively, the Buffalo Bills a major step forward following the defection of Mario Williams.
That certainly wasn’t the case in Week 1, with Buffalo’s defence surrendering 48 points to the previously inept New York Jets offence.
Houston barely missed the high-priced Williams, getting a monster game from J.J. Watt and holding Miami to 10 points. Watt, a defensive end, picked up the slack as he will have to all season, picking up 1.5 sacks, along with two tipped passes that led to interceptions. Watt gave rookie Ryan Tannehill all kinds of problems.
“You can’t get a sack every play, so you might as well try to bat the ball,” Watt said.
Tannehill was picked off three times in all and was sacked three times by the Texans. The defence especially got to him late in the first half when he made most of his mistakes, including the two deflected interceptions.
“That’s a good defence,” Tannehill admitted.
FREEMAN NOT TOO SHABBY, EITHER
Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman has never been as celebrated as Cam Newton, but he is a pretty decent quarterback himself — and gave everyone a reminder on Sunday.
While Newton struggled to find daylight against the Buccaneers and was picked off twice, Freeman played a less flashy, but more effective game. Though Freeman only passed for 138 yards compared to 303 by Newton, he avoided mistakes and spread the ball around.
Freeman had some outstanding games two years ago, but struggled last season and had a lot to prove. Yesterday, he was hot from the jump, completing his first eight passes. With Vincent Jackson on the scene, Freeman now has a top receiving threat to work with and has a shot at regaining his lost form.
In 2010, the quarterback threw 25 touchdowns and was intercepted just six times, but in 2011, he slumped to 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Though the 138 passing yards were the fewest Freeman has thrown in a game since midway through 2010, the fact he didn’t get picked off after managing that feat just four times all last season has to be seen as a positive.
Like Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch was questionable to play in Week 1, but managed to suit up.
Unlike those fellow stellar running backs, Lynch did not help his team win a game.
A game-time decision because of bothersome back spasms, Lynch suited up and put up some decent numbers — 85 yards on 21 carries along with a pair of catches — but he also had a damaging fumble and taking a hard hit in the process — helping Arizona to three points that ended up looming quite large in a win over Seattle.
On that third-quarter play, Lynch lost the ball and an incomplete pass call was overturned and Arizona was allowed to keep its recovery.
That meant instead of driving to tie the game, Seattle was suddenly down 10.
Lynch was largely ineffective the rest of the way after absorbing the hit.
The day wasn’t a complete loss for Lynch though, as CBSSports.com reported that he will not be immediately suspended by the NFL for his off-season DUI arrest.
The report said Lynch has already met with the league and no further action will be taken until Lynch heads to court, which probably is months away.
FORMER CFL PLAYERS MAKE MARK
Not much went right for Miami on Sunday, but one of its two former CFL stars came through — and not the one you might have expected.
Marcus Thigpen had quite the outing for a team that desperately needed an offensive spark. Thigpen returned his first NFL punt 72 yards for a touchdown and also returned five kicks for 137 yards (27.4 per return) against Houston.
Miami only scored 10 points in the game.
Thigpen, who became the first CFL player to score a touchdown five different ways in a season back in 2010 for Hamilton, signed with the Dolphins in January.
Miami had not returned a punt for a touchdown since 2007, when Ted Ginn Jr. did it.
Thigpen had not been particularly effective during camp and in exhibition games, but made a strong case in his debut to continue to see action.
Cameron Wake, who has been a revelation for the Dolphins since heading south, wasn’t bad by any stretch, either. He had three tackles and laid hits on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub three times.