Friday, November 6

The All-Francis team

With the Browns on hiatus this weekend, I thought I'd talk a little bit about some of my favorite players from across the NFL. I'm a Browns fan first and foremost, but I'm also an NFL fan, and there are individual players whom I admire who do not sport the Brown and Orange, some of whom play for teams I outright despise. Thus, I'm constructing my All-Francis team of guys I like based on performance and personality. Browns are eligible, but do not get preference. Later, I'm looking into a Non-Francis Team (my least favorites) and an All-Time All-Francis (self-explanatory). Let's do the 2009 All-Francises first:

Quarterback: Drew Brees
In case our NFL Picks haven't made this clear, I've got quite the man-crush on Brees. He's got the same name as me, awesome hair, the best pre-game team ritual ever, went to Purdue when it was John Hawkins U, does great off-field work, and is just a tremendous quarterback, the heart and soul of that franchise. If I were to ever buy a non-Browns jersey, this would be the one.

Running back: Clinton Portis
Awesome, awesome name, and that goes a long way with me. It just rolls off the tongue. More than that, though, he's on the All-Francis Team because of the hilarious outfits he wears to his weekly press conferences, particularly the eyewear. Cracks me up every time.

Wide Receivers: Chad Ochocinco and Larry Fitzgerald
85 rubs some people the wrong way, but I love his flamboyant personality and skill package. So many receivers in the NFL are head cases and total jerks; Ochocinco is eccentric for sure, but he has a sense of humor about things. He's as likable as TO is hateable. I love his TD celebrations - going into the Dawg Pound for beer showers, going behind a snow pile to get a sign that said "Merry Christmas: Please don't fine me, NFL" for which he was fined. His interviews are great - I liked him describing his plans to wear so much pink that he'd get fined because he'd donate the money to breast cancer research anyway. Plus, dude can play a bit.

Fitzgerald is the opposite; the nicest, quietest, most professional dude in the league, and maybe its best wideout. He's unreal. I remember watching him dominate at Pitt - you just knew the guy had serious pro talent. Easy guy to root for.

Tight End: Dallas Clark
Another outstanding name, and a truly unique player. I remember when he was in college - Gopo and I used to joke that Clark was always open, and he really was. I've never seen a player exploit zone defenses like this guy. Linebackers have no chance to cover him, he's got great hands, and there's never anyone within 10 yards of him. Maybe he has an invisibility cloak or something. Maybe I'm a super dork.

Offensive lineman: Nobody
Who cares about offensive linemen? Have you ever seen in the NFL Draft when an O-lineman goes and they show a "highlights" package of them pushing an opponent? I'd hate to be tasked with assembling such a clip. I know they're very important to a team's success, but there's not enough individuality for me to pick one. Though, as an honorable mention, D'Brickashaw Ferguson's name alone gets him close. Maybe if he wore funny sunglasses.

Kick returner/special teams: Josh Cribbs
I said I wouldn't give Browns special treatment, and I haven't. Cribbs is just flat-out awesome. He's the most dangerous return man in the game on punts and kickoffs, a tremendous gunner and tackler on special teams, and contributes to the offense with speed and power the two times a game the Browns ever give him the ball. Plus, he's a Kent Stater - I didn't say I wouldn't take college into account.

Defensive Lineman: I should have limited this to skill positions
If Jared Allen hadn't made that retarded comment about his paycheck being halved if Obama becoming President (it likely has not changed at all), he'd be up here. But I can't let such inanity go unpunished.
I also wanted to pick Frostee Rucker, but the assault charges bug me.
I literally looked through the entire list of NFL D-liners, which includes two fellows named Tank, and still couldn't find a winner.

Linebacker: Mike Vrabel
The guy is from Akron, played at Ohio State, and has nine career TD receptions (and defensive return TD to boot). Book it.

Safeties: Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu
Damn, I wish the Browns had someone of the caliber of these fellows patrolling the backfield behind our lousy linebackers. The word that comes to mind for both players is "disruptive." They're both absolute menaces; Polamalu covering huge amounts of ground (and getting beat by Lawrence Vickers for a Browns TD as I type this, but he's clearly hurt) and punishing opponents, and Reed with his incredible knack for the ball and, once said ball is acquired, the end zone. These guys are just badasses.

Coach: Mike Tomlin
I know, we're regrettably getting Steeler-heavy here; this is mostly because of his gameday wear. When it's sunny he sports ridiculous aviator shades. When it gets cold, he dons a Costanza-esque Puffy Coat and what appear to be his pajamas. Mike Tomlin, Dave Barry, and Hugh Hefner are the only three men I can think of at the top of their professions who go to work in their sleepwear.

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