This is my favorite sports story ever. As noted by Awful Announcing, the website Cleveland.com — essentially the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a fine newsgathering operation — sought to stage an online version of March Madness by having a bracket contest involving Cleveland-area players.
(Writes Cleveland.com’s Doug Lesmerises: “This isn’t greatest athlete or favorite athletes.” So what is it? Best singing voice? But I digress.)
In the Browns bracket, the No. 16 seed was Johnny Manziel. He was pitted against the No. 1 seed. In NCAA tournament history, no No. 1 seed has been felled by a No. 16. In the annals of Cleveland.com, a monumental upset just occurred.
With 68.22 percent of the vote, Johnny Football — who’s no longer a Brown — toppled the No. 1 seed, who’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (The actual vote was 7,508 to 3,498, making this, percentage-wise, a bigger landslide than LBJ over Goldwater.) This might have been a case of some wise acres having an internet giggle (LOL!), but that wouldn’t explain Bob Feller, LeBron James and Archie Griffin — the No. 1 seeds in the Indians, Cavaliers and Buckeyes brackets — winning their Round 1 matchups with 96.49, 83.37 and 94.57 percent of the vote, respectively.
Could this have been a newfangled example of advanced analytics trumping old-line numbers, a Trout-over-Miggy thing? Not exactly. We present the NFL stats of Browns seeds No. 16 and No. 1.
Manziel: 14 games; 147 completions in 258 attempts; 1,675 yards passing; 259 yards rushing; seven touchdown passes; one rushing touchdown; seven interceptions.
The No. 1 seed: 118 games; 12,312 yards rushing and 2,499 receiving; 126 touchdowns scored; three touchdown passes (on 12 career attempts).
As faithful correspondent Wayne Brown of Tuskegee, Ala., noted: “That’s like voting Nick (Swaggy P) Young over Magic, Kareem or Jerry West as Greatest Laker Ever.” (Actually, it’s worse. Swaggy P has shown he can play a bit. Manziel has shown he can get himself cut.)
Maybe we’re being too hard on the 7,508 discerning voters who supported Johnny ex-Football. Maybe they’re young. Maybe they never saw the No. 1 seed play. Maybe they have no access to YouTube. (Though apparently they’ve access to Cleveland.com.) Maybe they forgot the NFL championship the No. 1 seed helped the city claim. (But doesn’t everyone up there know 1964 as the year of Cleveland’s most recent pro title?)
Or maybe they just forgot who the No. 1 seed was, which is understandable. The No. 1 seed wore No. 32 for the Cleveland Browns. His name is Jim Brown.