Joe Banner is gonna fix your uniforms with focus groups.

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One of these teams was founded in 1931. But all look like expansion teams from the 90s. /focus grupe’d

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Ooops, my bad. New Jags logo.

Why do seemingly reasonable men turn into pompous asses when they take charge of the Browns’ operations?

  • Carmen Policy.  Wins four Super Bowls as CEO with the 49ers; abruptly quits as Browns CEO under a cloud.*
  • Mike Collins.  Marketing executive pulls sloppy back-channel power play to fire GM Phil Savage, gets fired himself.
  • Mike Holmgren.  SB winning coach can’t be bothered coaching, wants to learn the CEO side of the business and wades into Port of Cleveland parking contract negotiations.

And now this guy Banner.  It’s time for Joe Banner to follow the advice command he’s given to the rest of Berea and speak less.  Because he had quite an interview with Clark Judge Wednesday.  He leads off with a stunning display of ignorance and gracelessness:

Julio+Jones+Jacksonville+Jaguars+v+Atlanta+16q4wTRtSSTx

… future draft picks.

New York Jets vs. St. Louis Rams

Was traded for…

Everybody talked about a long-term plan, but when’s the last time the team traded for a future draft pick? When’s the last time the team said, ‘We may not have position ‘X’ with the best player this year because there’s nobody in the marketplace who’s that good, and we don’t want to waste all the future cap money just so we win six games instead of five?

I don’t know Joe, two years?  three years?   This is awkward, Joe … but … The Mark Sanchez trade?  The Julio Jones trade?  I’m not even going to link them, but they were in the news.  You can look them up via Google.  Yeah, I know you don’t Joe.  Ask that IT guy who’s a security risk.  He’ll help you with that.

As far as cap space, is not cap space truly wasted when it evaporates into the ether?  It’s a good thing you have all those analytics-y math-y smart guys over there.  Maybe one of them can explain to you that cap space dollars are not like cellphone rollover minutes.  And as much as you say not spending cap monies is smart, it’s dumb.  It puts your team at a competitive disadvantage.

But today is not about pointing out the obvious, i.e., NFL player payroll at $130M is usually better than a player payroll at $100M.  Because buried later in the interview we find out …

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Joe Banner is gonna fix our logo and uniforms with focus groups.

New, forward-looking, and energetic.
Yet still 55-75 since the change.

That’s right.  FOCUS GROUPS!  

From the same Judge interview we find this:

Q: But everyone has a plan when they go in. What’s yours and why do you think you can do what others before you have not?

Banner: Over the next couple of years, for instance, we’re going to change the logo and uniforms in a way that will respect the history but will be forward looking.

Q: You’re going to change the uniforms? How do you think that will fly with a loyal fan base?

Banner: We promise that the helmet won’t change. We promise the new look will respect the history. We’re going to do a lot of focus groups. We’re not going to put something out there that we haven’t done a lot of research on. It’s not going to be anything radical, I can guarantee that. But it will be new, forward looking and energetic (!!). It will reflect what we want the franchise to be.”

I’ve got your focus group right here, Joe.

wl04l

One week of this is plenty. We’re aware.

Focus groups.  Focus groups gave you the right to be unlimited Sprint Commercial.  Focus groups gave us the Month -a whole month- of Pink to support Breast Cancer awareness.  (Like Angelina Jolie’s double-mastectomy didn’t make us plenty aware.)

And you know who the Banner consultants will seek out to populate the focus groups, right?

No, not you.  If you’re reading this post,,, not you.

Yes.  The dreaded casual fan.

You Mr. Hardcore fan, you don’t matter in this process because, let’s be honest, you’re in the bag.  You’ll eat any steaming pile of Browns-related crap put in front of you.  You’ve proven this for the last fifty years.  We don’t need to get your business, we have it.

No.  Banner’s consultants want the hipster demographic.  The guy from the Sprint commercial who wants to share every data in pixels.  A billion roaming photojournalists.  You know this is right:  the committee selecting your new uniform is the girl playing Angry Birds in the front row behind the dugout.  The guy who records a live concert with his phone instead of just enjoying the moment.  The jump-cut commercials people.  More energy.

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On the off chance that someone in Berea is paying attention.

You don’t see the Packers, Bears, Raiders chasing the uniform stylings of the Titans, Texans, Panthers uniform designs.  Why is that?

Because the heritage is the thing.  It’s what binds us to past glory.  It’s the bond to our grandfathers’ teams.  It’s what expansion teams can only wish they had.  There’s a reason throw-back jerseys work.

imgres-4 url-5 url-6

Hell, add the Cowboys, Colts, and Saints to the list.  Good organizations don’t fix what’s not broken.

Why do we have to go through this every time someone new moves to Berea?  There are four iconic uniforms in football.  The Browns are one of them and we LIKE being in that category.  As we said in Cool it post:

We’re in an elite class with the Packers, Bears, and Raiders (although we did diverge for awhile in the 70s).  You can put the Cowboys and Chiefs in there too I suppose.  That category reads: Teams that value tradition over the marketing pimping of this year’s jersey sales.  

Even the teams that screwed around with their old winning uniforms eventually smartened up and went back to basics (Niners, Dolphins, Giants).  Are the Steelers’ jerseys better now with the numbers delicately styled to match their helmet number decals?  I think not.  The Vikings change their unis every year when the blueprint is in their files.  And don’t get me started on the Rams.

It’s so easy to avoid this learning curve. In what seems to be a trend with the Banner regime, they’re behind the trend.

Below we see the Vikes, Niners, and Giants eschewing their ‘forward looking energetic design in favor of their old… what? … I guess backward and lethargic uniforms.  Note that  all are going back to the classic ‘less is more’ design.

In other words, they want what the Browns already have.

ThePurplePeopleEaters_display_imagebadvikes20130425__130425_Vikings_uniform_combos

montanaricekap

gifford ltWild Card Playoffs - Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants

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Sorry if this seems a like a lot of fuss from me over a nothing issue.  But every damn time this uniform door is opened, it creates a possibility of grievous error.  We don’t know how a focus group is going to rule when presented with options like these.

eric-demseyjpg-0a18df27688c9a14jason-adam-alljpg-df93cfaf3b3890ca

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They could get it wrong.  Because don’t forget:  before deciding to go energetic, the Eagles used to have this logo.

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Going out on a limb: Eagles’ fans like this logo better.

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Still don’t see the risk or problem?  Here’s one more example.

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JUST MAKE A GOOD FOOTBALL TEAM, JOE.

Mr. Cleaveland speaks for us in his comment yesterday in the WFNY thread:

How would that carpetbagger Haslam like it if some pencil-neck from Harvard became president of the University of Tennessee and gave their unis a more “forward looking” color — say crimson?  Leave our uniforms alone, hillbilly!

LOL… okay the hillbilly was a needless pejorative but the gist is nuts on.

Memo to Berea:

JUST MAKE A GOOD FOOTBALL TEAM.  UNIFORMS ARE WINDOW DRESSING AND NOT FOR YOU TO WORRY ABOUT.

PS:  WE LOVE OUR UNIFORMS.
PPS:  YOU DIDN’T HEAR US, WE LOVE OUR UNIFORMS.
PPPS:  WE HATE TRENDY EXPANSION FOCUS GROUP UNIFORMS.

brownshelmet

Respects our history.

I still don’t think they heard me.

We don’t want to hear about your focus on contracting with new catering companies.  We don’t want to hear about your stupid analytics while maintaining the smallest defensive backfield in pro-football in spite of easy to obtain analytics indicating the problem with this.

Every damn thing you do that does not pertain to improving the team on the field is a proof point that you are NOT laser focused on the task at hand.  It indicates you’re distracted from the task at hand.  If you want to send a message to your fan base, make it a message that you’re committed to winning.

Changing uniform design is the ultimate in form over substance messaging.  It is not a confidence-builder for your fans.

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* Connected Yompton readers:  please help me fill in the blanks here on the Policy story.  Gracias.

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  • James Hubbell

    “cardinals are really nice birds and the most beautiful singers… they never furl their eyebrows… that whole logo is fake. but one thing to remember about focus groups doing logo tweaks… it can ALWAYS get worse.”

    This is what I’m most concerned with – Banner leads off with uniform change as one of the things he will do over the next few years instead of indicating he wants to consider changes that include uniform change. His emphasis and priority come across as fait accompli. If that’s the case uniform change will be made just for sake of change. And it smacks of Joe sitting on his throne and picking something he already had designed.

    Maybe it’s me but it seems almost everything Banner says comes across as ‘I’m in charge and don’t you forget it!’ Scary and I predict we’ll be sorry.

  • Henry Brown

    Yeah winning cures all ills, that’s obvious, but the stadium experience does suck so no reason to complain about them trying to fix it. This isn’t the eighties where you had 4 channels on a crappy television, the NFL game day is competing with infinite entertainment options, including its own vastly better television experience and needs to be worth the money and hassle to go to the games. Also its naive to think the players aren’t affected by the stadium experience too, if anything they probably are more than the fans.

    The newer Eagles logo is infinitely better then the old one, plus it gives the team a chance to actually pull out the old logo for the sake of nostalgia. I also am confused when you bring up teams like the Bears and Packers who every year wear throwbacks that are vastly different from their current ones. Anyhow its clear they’re only going to make subtle changes, if anything it will probably look more “classic” than the current incarnation that isn’t exactly like the old uniform anyway.

    • so the stadium experience in a 15 year old, 400 million (adjusted dollars) stadium sucks but the stadium experience in a 45 million dollar 1932 stadium is memorialized by generations? what does this tell us?

      the goodness or badness of the experience at any stadium has to with the memories created at on the field, period. i.e., youre not there to experience the stadium, youre there to experience rooting for your team in person.

      it’s fine to improve the stadium. but i no longer want to hear from browns’ CEOs outlining improved cafeterias, diverse concession stands, better cell service, and ‘forward-looking, more energetic’ unis/logos offered up in a context of ‘look what we’re doing for you.’

      if you’re going to improve the scoreboard, make it look more like this:

      nothing says maximize revenue streams like adding more teal to your colors. but that old eagles logo saw three championships while the new one, well-researched via focus groups though it may be, is divorced from any past glory. i don’t see the point, that’s all

      • Henry Brown

        The old stadium experience wasn’t good, it was terrible actually, its just romanticized because the team was OK and the fans were nuts. But that’s exactly the point. Yes, having a good team makes for a good experience. Water is wet. When I have to miss the entire 3rd quarter of the game to get a beer I’m not going to go to the stadium even if they’re winning. Also, going to the game is about more then the 3 hours its played, its an all day experience and if they want to improve it, I’m not going to cry about it. Like it or not people want better cell service, why complain about them meeting the needs of their customers? The scoreboard is garbage, just because you have some nostalgia for old timey things doesn’t mean everyone else who is actually there doesn’t want to see a replay in better definition than a 1975 Montgomery Ward television.

        The players themselves have said things like flyovers, fireworks, good video boards and yes even the uniform makes a difference to them. There’s nothing wrong with focus groups, its how the fan gets a voice in the process. If they just changed it would that make you happy? I’m not sure which Championships of the Eagles you’re talking about but I assume you mean the McNabb era NFC Championships, which the Eagles sported the current logo you’re lamenting. I don’t think they’ve used the chicken eagle logo since the 70s and the odds of teal being on the uniform is non-existent.

        • not to kill this to death and no i’m not in favor of crappy stadium facilities. but.
          if browns are 13-3, someone else will buy the ticket that you will let go unused due to poor beer service. this is my point and on one hand, yes, it is a ‘water is wet’ observation but on the other hand our CEO/GM/Führer remains engaged with these on-going window dressing activities. that’s one thing.
          the second is when the window dressing activities are presented in a ‘look what we’re doing for you’ self-congratulatory mode while the team has 30 odd million dollars in unused cap (with no indication these monies are earmarked for extensions this year; theyre not talking to mack/ward and are acting cagey about them) and drafts [what look to be] all backups while six areas of need remain unaddressed…

          welp, they’re not gonna a get a big Thank You from here for more family-friendly moon-walks.

          ps, if the good video board and fireworks are the tipping points on a free-agent signing, he’s not signing with a natural grass northern team anyway.

  • Petefranklin

    Maybe if Banner had put as much effort into the draft as he did thinking about uniforms we would have gotten a solid player in the 4th or 5th THIS year. Lord knows we don’t have any room for a few (more than two) rookies on this dynasty. Hey Joe, you want to change the uniforms??? Just make them the way I see them in the second half, doubled. Make all the stripes doubled because the only way the CBS scoreboard experience is numbed is by drinking enough alcohol to see double. Although I confess that in the only game I’ve seen at new CBS, we beat the Ratbirds on opening day.

    • all the likes.

      • Petefranklin

        If the thumbs down was about drinking alcohol, I might add that I went to the AFC championship game stone cold sober. Its all about the team and the new Browns are pawns.

  • Agree with a more conservative approach to tweaking the uniforms. The only change I’d be intrigued by is the subtle incorporation of the Brownie Elf into the uniform, perhaps on the upper pants, or on the sleeves where the dreaded “AL” has been for a seeming eternity. It is a symbol of the greatest decades for the franchise and has a compelling mythological depth.

    • i’m down with that. but can’t help but think that a focus group approved logo will wind up looking for more like a. (ugh.) or b. (made me LOL) instead of c. (correct.).

      • Max

        B, 100 % B. Hands down

      • lol. a) this is why the terrorists hate us b) I want to see a mockup with endless-receding helmets within helmets, like Russian dolls c) this symbol powerfully connects me to my father and grandfather every time I see it. Your call, Banner.

        Jim, am I right in recollecting that you’ve written a column about the Brownie before?

        • nope. just been a [usually] contrarian commenter at WFNY and Frowns for several years. maybe youre thinking of vince’s piece in Scene which revealed how Art Modell hated Brownie the Elf?

        • NeedsFoodBadly

          Ditto your point on B. It’s not just delightfully meta, it also sort of captures the spiralling existential horror of Cleveland sports in a way that mere words cannot.

          And Brownie the Elf is the greatest.

  • bupalos

    Well said. The thing that bothers me most about this new regime is how much we hear about the vapid meaninglessness that is “fan experience,” as a full 1/3rd of their equation. I have no doubt they feel the “fan experience” at old municipal was unacceptable. Imagine…people had so little to do they actually had to watch the start of the 3rd quarter from their seats.

    Of course, I admit that for the youngs, its possible that the existing uni just looks like losing. And its a lot easier to change the unis than change the losing.

    • the risk in catering to the youngs is sometimes they just don’t have a clue which is, of course, part of being youngs.

      i just flashed on another worrisome scenario. haslam’s quite proud of his owner-training period with the steelers. welp, the steelers fall into the cant-leave-well-enough-alone category and are charter members of the we’ll-rip-off-the-stooges-to-max-rev-streams school.

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        Counterpoint (with love, as always): the risk in NOT catering to the youngs is in strangling a fanbase in the crib, allowing Steeler fandom to further creep over the border into NEO as the next generation of fans is gradually co-opted. (And, it goes without saying, winning is the most important thing here, more so than anything else that follows)

        So some things aren’t horrible ideas. Like improving/actually having cell service in the stadium, for example. I like going to games live and I pay attention, but being able to look at Twitter during breaks in play to see interesting stats/injury updates/whatever helps provide some of the pros formerly inherent in watching at home. This is part of a modern-day experience. Smartphones have a role in sporting events that aren’t just attention-wasters or annoying photothingies.

        Likewise, expanding beer options beyond just Budweiser and Miller – not difficult to do in the slightest. Banner may mention this in interviews, but I doubt this is something that takes up much of his time beyond drafting a memo to the Vice President in Charge of Consumables to get it done. I think a lot of these improvements aren’t that strenuous or time-consuming for Banner to delegate in any event, but who else is going to deliver the message that the Browns plan on changing some of these things?

        But touching the uniforms in any significant manner is, of course, right out.

  • jpftribe

    Let me take a shot at answering the very first line of your post.

    Because when you suck, you do not attract the best talent available.

    You don’t get John Fox, you get Pat Shurmur. You don’t get Bill Parcells, you get Phil Savage. You don’t get Saban, or Cowher or even Kelly, you get Chud (we still love you Chud, as long as you win).

    You get unproven guys who are fighting for a chance, or retread guys who haven’t done it before and think this is the big break, the chance to do it all right, to be the difference maker.

    What has Banner done? Won a Super Bowl? No, he drafted Donovon McNabb and spent nearly a decade failing to get anyone decent who could catch a ball from him. Then he jettisoned him the Redskins after he was beat to death playing behind a mediocre, but cap friendly, OL. Class guy this Banner is.

    These guys are the smartest guys in their own room. Haslam has been proven to be a not very smart businessman. Either corrupt, or completely unaware of wtf his own people were doing.

    The coaching staff is very good. One commenter here once said the upgrade is like going from a paper airplane to the Starship Enterprise. Maybe a bit optimistic, but anywhere between Apollo and the Space Shuttle would be fine with me. However, they have the exact problem they are so concerned about on the personnel front, longevity. Horton has one good year and he is outta here. Who knows who he takes with him. Scott Turner as his OC? Hoiw long will Norv want to stick around? And it is obvious to any half brained NFL fan they are architecting Horton’s defensive style with long term, expensive FA contracts and high draft picks.

    But it’s all OK. MKC has two new QB’s to write about all year and Grossi will have plenty of passive aggressive fodder to exploit.

    I’ve followed Adam Caplan since the Browns announced Banner before ownership took over. Can’t imagine a better source than him on Banner’s history with the Eagles. He has been consistent from day one to today. Banner needs to listen to the football guys around him. Meaning he has shown a propensity throughout his career not to.

    • bupalos

      Aaaaaaahhhhrg! We could have had john fox!!!!

      Seriously, what attracts talent is 91 percent money. They could have paid for that, they just didn’t.

    • aww.. no likey john fox? the same john fox who beat the steelers in the playoffs with tim tebow? the same john fox who had a jake delhomme team in a tie with nine seconds left against belichick in a super bowl?

      i’m a big-time fox fan. i was watching a lot of panthers back then and even when they weren’t winning, his teams played hard and i liked how he managed the game. never scurred to go for it on a 4th down. liked his style. you’ll have to trust me on this; it’s a uniquely arcane subject that i feel qualified to speak to.

      point is moot tho. worldwide lamonte seemed to have slotted his clients with fox to denver and shurmur to us. ugh.

      • >>>The new overlords in Berea are aspiring to more than that (or so they tell us).>>>

        just not this year. or the year after that. but maybe in three years. 😉

        i aspire to move behind a new regime’s aspiration phase.

    • shouldnt the law of averages give us our Chuck Noll eventually? (ie, no one wanted to go to pittsburgh in 1969.)

      MKC is a caricature at this point is she not? Bobby Hoyer says he thinks he can start and that’s your lead story? i sympathize that it’s hard to generate content daily this time of year… but sheesh. at this point i’ve got a bigger issue with her friends and support community: why hasn’t someone told her how hacky her QB has gotten?

      on banner, im convinced that chip kelly looked him over, slept on it, and said,, ive got better options. sure banner has some nice coordinators this year but more through luck than his doing. if arizona hires horton as HC, horton wouldve taken norv with him. (as reported by kanick here.) so we’ve got a third? fourth? choice as HC whose strength is that he could get solid coordinators who would not have been available if horton didnt wear braids. ok that last part cannot be confirmed, but still: yes, good coaching staff this year; but sorta flukey.

    • jpftribe

      Oohhh. I stand corrected, Pat Shurmur it is. Way too much upside there to warrant asking a chance on an experienced coch that took an expansion franchise to its first super bowl.

      And hey if Fox didn’t want to come here it’s really his loss. He was stuck with dealing with Tebow after all. We all know how that worked out.

      • jpftribe

        Ok, i’ll drop the snark and reply rationally.

        My original point was that the Browns, or losing franchises in general don’t attract the top talent.

        We’ll definitely agree to disagree on Fox. I lived in Charlotte the entire Fox era and I can tell you he was a great coach who made the best of what he had. Keep in mind Marty Hurney was the GM, who garnered his NFL experience as a journalist. Great guy, not a very good cap manager and no real experience evaluating NFL talent.

        I think wer can all agree that Fox would have been light years ahead of Shurmur in quality coaching candidates, and he was never even considered as part of the mix, and by all accounts, never wanted to come to CLE.

        Instead, he goes to Denver, with John Elway as GM, takes the Broncos through the first round of the playoffs with Tim Tebow, than takes them a play away from the Super Bowl with Manning at QB.

        Meanwhile the Browns have the former Panthers OC as Head Coach, hoping Weeden or Campbell is the answer and converting Badamosi to safety while the Broncos today signed Jammer.

        Yes. they had no chance at signing Manning, which further proves my point. No team had more money to throw at Manning, yet he wouldn’t even consider coming here, never in the conversation.

  • To first echo Max, I see where the “revenue streams” will eventually lead. Two points here: Why Not? Can you only imagine how many new uniform combo/merchandise this team could sell….that is if the team ever gets good?

    And point two: exactly why did it take so long to address this issue?

    To echo Tom, I can definitely see some “futuristic traditional” take on the uniform – maybe something similar to the Butch Davis orange jerseys (which was at least something).

    Anyway – I’m not all about tradition – especially when we have to reach back to the 1960’s for it. While I don’t want a total “Any Given Sunday” remake or laughably stupid “tweek” like the Cardinals (woah – that’s a ferocious everyday bird), it seems a bit (Randy Lerner) lazy that the same all white uniforms are constantly thrown out. Here, “tradition” and “meh, who cares?” go hand in hand.

    • yeah you dont want to know from me on the alt jersey thing. in my utopia, you have two jerseys, home and away, and they have numbers on them. period. not really thrilled about the arm stripes but will accept them for tradition’s sake.

      cardinals are really nice birds and the most beautiful singers… they never furl their eyebrows… that whole logo is fake. but one thing to remember about focus groups doing logo tweaks… it can ALWAYS get worse.

  • i’ll never understand breaking a link to your dynastic history. and miami market is a different animal than cleveland.

    and yeah i threw the saints in there because they haven’t really changed much. (tho i do despise the collared look that -i assume- the nfl jammed down their throats.)

  • Max

    What happens when a business guy tries to prove he is a football guy, yet is unable to completely divert his focus from maximizing revenue streams?

    Bad things, man….bad things

    • whenever i hear talk about ‘improving the stadium experience’ i just cringe. HEY. BEREA. YOU KNOW WHAT WILL IMPROVE THE STADIUM EXPERIENCE? BEATING THE STEELERS, RAVENS, AND BENGALS.

      [
      or, alternatively and maybe more effectively:

      Dear Berea:

      Do you know what maximizes revenue streams? Hosting playoff games in your stadiums.

      Best,
      Browns fans
      ]

      • Max

        sadly it has been so long since there has been a home playoff game in Cleveland that the stat-heads don’t have the data available for their spreadsheets