I swear there are only 687 people in the whole world. If you live long enough, you meet those same people all over again throughout life.
In moving through your chosen career field, you move in the same professional circle. Take the Redskins and the Browns, for example. Monday’s preseason game shows just how closely entwined are the key actors of those teams.
Robert Griffin III was sure that the Cleveland Browns would draft him. The Browns accumulated the extra Draft picks that Jeff Fisher needed to rebuild the Rams. While Mike Holmgren haggled, Mike Shanahan swooped (or was pushed) in with the preemptive offer that swung the deal for Washington.
Fisher closed the door on negotiations when he got what he needed from the Redskins and voilà, Griffin heads to Washington and Holmgren is on conference calls with disgruntled fans explaining how
the deal was lost he lost the deal.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam booted Holmgren at the end of the 2012 season. He might have given Holmgren an extra year if the Browns had the dynamic RGIII on the roster to excite Browns fans instead of Brandon Weeden.
Shanahan got the dynamic RG and lost his job in 2013 anyway.
With the sixth pick in the 2012 Draft, the Redskins could have selected safety Mark Barron, linebacker Luke Kuechly or defensive tackle Dontari Poe and backfilled at quarterback with Russell Wilson or Kirk Cousins. Both were both available in the third round.
The Redskins gave up its second round pick in the RGIII deal when the big (6’ 3 in”) wide receiver they always craved, Alshon Jeffrey, could have been had.
Shanahan would not have survived another year of Rex Grossman as a starter. It is not clear that the Shanahans would have started rookies Cousins or Wilson over the experienced Grossman out of concern about Washington’s defense.
The Browns signed Grossman to their roster as the back-up mentor to Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. Grossman filled that role in Washington with OC Kyle Shanahan who is now with Cleveland.
It is no stretch to see how the Redskins without RGIII might have selected Johnny Football in the recent Draft because it’s not a stretch to see the team winning six or fewer 2013 games with Grossman starting. Twenty one teams passed on Manziel before Cleveland took him. He would have been there for Washington.
Kyle Shanahan is doing to Manziel what he never did to Griffin, insist that he compete for the starting job. RG has always been anointed for the role. Anointings would have done strange things to my head at Griffin’s age. We are still trying to figure out what it has done to his head.
Griffin without doubt would have won a QB competition. Coaches hate to do it because it deprives first team practice reps for eventual starter. It’s what you do with journeyman contenders. Manziel is inexperienced. He is not a journeyman. He is in a QB competition anyway.
The Redskins signed Colt McCoy to the roster. McCoy started 21 games for the Browns and he spent the 2012 season as Weeden’s back-up.
So you see, the second half of Monday’s preseason game in Bizarro World features a duel between McCoy and Manziel.
But wait. There’s more.
Brian Hoyer will start for Cleveland. Kirk Cousins was Hoyer’s back-up at Michigan State in 2008 and succeeded him as starter from 2009 through 2011.
The Browns bumped Hoyer ahead of Jason Campbell on the depth chart last season. Campbell started eight games for Cleveland. His 1-7 finish added to the urgency to draft Johnny Manziel.
Honorable mention goes to Earnest Byner.
Art Modell made four controversial decisions as Cleveland Browns owner. Three were football blunders. He fired Coach Paul Brown. He fired Coach Bill Belichick. He traded Earnest Byner to the Redskins for RB Mike Oliphant. Byner only had 5,527 total yards, 29 touchdowns, two Pro Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl win in his five years in Washington. I have always been grateful to Modell for that.
Oh, that fourth decision was the move to Baltimore.
No mention of a Browns-Redskins circle is complete without mentioning Bobby Mitchell. The Browns wished to pair Redskins Draft pick Ernie Davis with Jim Brown and offered Mitchell (and Leroy Jackson) to swing the deal. Davis, unfortunately, died of leukemia and never played a down in the NFL. Football legend Mitchell is in the Hall of Fame.