As the Reese’s Senior Bowl nears, I’m confronted with a personal dilemma. University of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen will likely be drafted in the top five of the 2018 NFL Draft, with an increasing likelihood that he could go No. 1 overall.
And while I’d love Allen as the No. 1 overall pick — great exposure for UW and the state of Wyoming as a whole — I’m torn because getting drafted there means Allen calls Cleveland home and dons the brown and orange for years to come.
I grew up in Berea, Ohio — a suburb about 10 miles south of Cleveland — and I’ve been to many Browns games over the years and I’m still a fan of Cleveland sports to this day. The Browns have given me zero happiness since getting reintroduced into the league in 1999.
The Browns are about as abysmal as abysmal gets.
They’ve gone through 28 starting quarterbacks in the last 19 seasons and have started at least two quarterbacks in each of the last 16 seasons. Tim Couch in 2001 represents the lone quarterback who started every game in a season for Cleveland. The Browns go through quarterbacks quicker than a sneeze through a screen door.
Cleveland is a quarterback graveyard, and I don’t want Allen to get buried there. Allen has said all the right things to local radio stations in Cleveland during his media time at the Senior Bowl. Allen is a blue-collar, farm kid that fits the personality of a rust-belt city.
He wants to be the guy, “That turns Cleveland around,” and while he would instantly be immortalized — and perhaps get a statue erected faster than LeBron James — if he did indeed turn the franchise around, the data doesn’t suggest that will happen.
No matter how good Allen is or will be in professional football, no player at the quarterback position in the last 19 years has been able to guide the dysfunction of the Cleveland Browns out of the pit of misery they’ve resided in since 1999.
I follow all the former Pokes in the pros and I want the best for all the former athletes that used to wear the brown and gold. I wanted Jacksonville to beat New England, for more reasons than one, but mainly to see Jaguars starting safety Tashaun Gipson — former cornerback at UW — play in the Super Bowl. Instead, I get to watch New England backup tight end Jacob Hollister — a man who caught collegiate touchdown passes from Allen — compete for the NFL’s glossiest prize.
I would love to see Josh Allen in a Cleveland Browns jersey. It would rekindle a fandom flame in me that’s flicking helplessly in the Wyoming wind. I would go out of my way and beam with pride watching the Browns play on Sundays.
But I don’t want to run the risk of Allen being just another duct taped name on a well-worn jersey in the upper reaches of First Energy Stadium.
Cleveland is referred to by many as the mistake on the lake, and it would be a mistake for Allen to go No. 1 overall in this year’s NFL Draft. Not because Allen isn’t worthy of the No. 1 pick — he’s the most talented quarterback to come out of college since Andrew Luck — but because Allen’s professional career would be cut short and he wouldn’t be able to flourish like he could someplace else.
I want Allen to have a long and prosperous NFL career, and that would mean dodging the bullet possessing the No. 1 pick in the draft — my hometown team, the Cleveland Browns.