Everybody loves train wreck
July 31, 2012
Tennessee tycoon Jimmy Haslam III is interested in buying the Cleveland Browns.
Normally, a rich guy trying to buy a pro football is a news item without snap. But there aren't many instances where the guy is a rival owner, who claims high loyalty. About the time word of Haslam's interest to buy the Browns came up, a quote from Haslam's time as a minority owner with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers came up.
"I am," Haslam said in 2010, "1,000 percent a Pittsburgh Steelers fan."
Never mind how you become a 1,000 percent fan. His quote, added to his interest to buy the Browns, makes for two likely scenarios:
A: He's not a 1,000 percent Steelers fan, as it's known he grew up loving the Dallas Cowboys, but he said that to help instill confidence in fans and owners. Opportunism in pro sports? Stop the presses.
B: Haslam can love the Steelers all he wants, but he'll never have majority ownership. The Rooney family has controlled the team for more than 80 years, and has millions of financial and emotional reasons not to change that. So you buy the Browns, because another NFL team is a very shiny consolation prize.
However, the morbid side of me wants a third option.
Consider this to be C, a wildly ridiculous — heck, irresponsible to even suggest — hypothetical: Haslam DOES love the Steelers 1,000 percent. He therefore hates the Browns 1,000 percent and wants to tear them apart from the inside. Yes, the Steelers beat the Browns all the time now ... but it's not enough.
TBS has "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns," and Haslam wants "NFL's Deplete the Browns."
Back in the 90s, my college friend Nicholas hated the Dallas Cowboys, and loved irking a mutual friend who loved them.
"When I get some money," Nicholas said, "I'm going to buy the Cowboys."
His plan was pure, unfiltered spite, with something new added every time he retold the fantasy:
n Move them to Fargo, N.D.
n Make them play in an open-air stadium.
n Change the team colors to hot pink.
n Gut the roster through a series of lopsided trades. Deion Sanders for a six-pack of Pepsi sounds fair.
I'm just imagining what else could be done to ruin a team. Hand head coaching duties to the local middle school coach. Concoct terrible concession stand items like yogurt-infused hot dogs. The possibilities are endless.
Before you get on your team's high horse, settle down. I'm bringing up the Cowboys because that's what my friend said, and I'm bringing up the Browns because that's the team Haslam's trying to buy. It could be the Titans, Ravens, Seahawks, 49ers, etc., and I'd still be morbidly curious to see a guy with that size of ... let's say gusto, become the evil genius we've only seen in movies.
It would kill the integrity of the game, you say? Maybe so, but I'd check NFL.com every 15 minutes to see what this guy would do next. And as reality television reminds with less shame every time, everybody loves a train wreck.
I know it will never happen, but part of me wants it.
How much? Hint: It's a percentage.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org