Columns » Balls

Suck for Luck?

It's the new catch phrase that's tearing Browns fans apart



It first showed up on fan message boards — not just for the Browns, but for the Bengals, Redskins, Bills, and the rest of the NFL's supposed bottom-feeders for 2011.

"Suck for Luck": a rallying cry for ineptitude, or just a palliative reminder that the prize at the top of next April's NFL draft is Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, probably the most prized prospect to enter the draft since another Stanford quarterback, John Elway, almost 30 years ago.

ESPN college football expert Bruce Feldman doesn't equivocate in calling Luck "the most complete quarterback prospect that has come along in the past decade."

Arizona Cardinals All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald went so far as to publicly express approval of his own quarterback-starved franchise's decision to pass on drafting a QB last April because he "didn't see a can't-miss quarterback ... a guy like Andrew Luck, who's got every single intangible you could ever want."

With the last nine Super Bowls having been won only by guys named Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, and Rodgers, it's easy enough to understand why folks call the NFL a quarterback's league. The franchise that picks the wrong one at the top of the draft sets itself back for years. So it's also easy to understand why folks see Luck as an absolute jackpot.

It's been enough to make some Browns fans feel better about the home team's decision to pass on adding any noteworthy free agents to fill what appear to be significant holes, especially on the defensive side of the ball. In response to this inactivity, "Suck for Luck" has become something of a movement in Cleveland (@SuckforLuck11 on Twitter) and endless fodder for talk-radio debate, with one especially grating WKNR "personality"having taken the position that "intelligent Browns fans" will pull for the Browns to lose in 2011.

But one need not embrace losing to appreciate "Suck for Luck." Nobody sees these Browns as a serious contender this season, and of course, there's a right way and a wrong way to build a consistent winner in the NFL. As far as free agents go, you can't go all-in on every hand.

With one of the youngest rosters in the league and 12 of 22 projected starters having come from the last three drafts, the evaluation and development of the talent on hand is a clear priority for the Browns — especially at the quarterback position, with second-year starter Colt McCoy. Playing behind what should be one of the best offensive lines in football and with the help of a Peyton Hillis-led ground game, McCoy will have a chance to put points on the board in Pat Shurmur's new offense, throwing to a receiving corps that's expected to blossom in 2011.

Whether that's enough to overcome apparent shortcomings on the other side of the ball will tell us a lot about McCoy. It will also determine whether Cleveland remains in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Even without such a consolation prize, the Browns' approach to roster building in 2011 would look like a smart one. But in the NFL, as in life, losing should never be for nothing, and this season it could end up being for more than ever. For a team in the Browns' position, that really doesn't suck at all, and there's really nothing wrong with appreciating that.

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