AFCN Notes: Revenge of the Cheap

AFCN Notes: Revenge of the Cheap

Published Apr. 1, 2011 2:30 p.m. ET

It wasn't too long ago that the Cleveland Browns could charge money just for the right to wait  to spend a ton of money on season tickets. After selling out their new Stadium in 1999, the Browns charged fans to get on a waiting list.

Those days, well, they're over. Eleven years of struggle, with one (lost) playoff game will do that, especially in a town suffering with a moribund economy.

The Browns yesterday announced that they are having a Draft Party, which isn't unusual. What is unusual how low-key it is. Previous years involved expensive shindigs at the popular Dave and Busters, which would generally wind up hitting folks in the wallet. This year, they're routing people to Cleveland Browns Stadium, with promises of "Appearances from Browns alumni, in-stadium interactive exhibits, live entertainment and complete first round NFL Draft coverage."

As part of the party, fans are invited to what the press release calls "a special Select-A-Seat experience", which allows them to select where they want their season tickets to be from the available open seats.

It's a long way from 1999.

* * *

Back in the day*, when I just had begun to use the internet to spew my views on sports, I made no bones about being an unapologetic Cleveland Browns homer. After all, I got my start in the sports media with a web site which ranted regularly about Art Modell taking Cleveland's beloved Browns to Baltimore.

As part of this, I would often target for lambasting one Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals, who would make occasional subtle noises about how easy it would be to retrofit the Bengals uniforms to orange and brown just in case that might be needed. Those noises stopped once Cincinnati agreed to build the spacious new Paul Brown Stadium.

Brown was a notorious tightwad, with my favorite story being how he once replaced the towels in the Bengals locker room with much smaller ones because they would cut back on laundry expenses. In contrast to the largesse of the Lerner family, Brown appeared to be a bit of an anachronism, a non-billionaire owner who actually had to worry about whether the balance sheet started turn red in color.

But these days, Mike Brown is looking a bit smarter, at least to his fellow owners, as Len Pasquarelli notes. Brown was one of only two owners who voted against extending the CBA back in 2006, a move that other owners now regret. While his fellow "nay" voter, Ralph Wilson, said he simply didn't understand the deal, Brown actually voted against it because he thought it gave too much players.

Now, to fellow owners suffering from contract-extender-regret, Mike Brown is looking like Nostradamus.

- Barry

* This is something that old people say. In other news, I'm old.