Pat McManamon | ESPN.com
“Have you played pro football?” asks the ad that 22-year-old Seth Pae, a graduate student at DePaul, took credit for posting. “College ball? High school? Pee-wee?
“Have you played Madden before? Do you know some of the rules of football? If yes, keep reading.”
And if no?
“… well also keep reading!” the ad reads. “We will take ANYONE!”
This is what happens with the Browns, a team that has used 19 starting quarterbacks since 1999 and is regularly the butt of jokes locally and nationally.
The city has become famous for radio rants about the team. In 2011, a local comedian named Mike Polk posted a YouTube video in which he stood by FirstEnergy Stadium and voiced his frustrations. He concluded by calling the stadium “a factory of sadness,” before adding, “I’ll see ya Sunday.”
The Browns have had one playoff game and two winning seasons since 1999, and in the past five years leading up to this one they won only 23 games. Yet the team sells out game after game after game.
The quarterbacks often find themselves in the eye of the storm, and Weeden is no different. He was welcomed as a first-round draft pick but criticized as losses mounted a year ago. Fans were pleased when Brian Hoyer won two games this season after Weeden sprained his thumb. They worried about Weeden’s return after Hoyer injured his knee. And they went silent when Weeden made his backhand flip late in Cleveland’s Week 6 loss to Detroit that resulted in an interception.
The Craigslist ad is just the latest quip. Pae, a Hudson, Ohio, native who is studying classical music and the viola, took credit for the ad and said it was a result of frustration.
“I was blowing off steam,” Pae said. “We’ve had like 396 quarterbacks since 1999. It’s a bit much. We’re still looking for ‘the one.’ I feel like we’re the Ted Mosby of football teams; we’re still looking for the one.”
Pae’s reference to Mosby is from the popular TV show “How I Met Your Mother,” in which one of the stars is constantly searching for the right woman. He said watching the Browns is like watching the show over and over as the team tries to find a quarterback.
The play that sent Pae over the edge?
“That one interception where [Weeden] flung the ball forward,” Pae said. “I watched video of it a couple times, and I saw two wide receivers wide open. … He decided to shovel pass it to nobody.”
The ad has the location of the Browns’ facility in Berea, Ohio, listed with a map to the site. It has the team’s address and lists the compensation at $125,000 per week.
As far as pranks go, it is on par with the guy who put in his will that he wanted six Browns players to be his pallbearers so that the team could “let him down one last time.”
“If you’re sick of seeing desperation heaves to the sidelines, countless sacks after superb coverage, and underhanded lightly tossed interceptions in the fourth quarter then please come apply!” the ad reads. “If you can throw a ball, come apply! If you can’t, come anyway! We can teach you the basics … throwing the ball to the guy who has the same color shirt as you. Throwing the ball reasonably close to a receiver (who is) WIDE OPEN, throwing the ball more than (three) yards on third and 16.”
And to think … Weeden threw two touchdown passes Sunday against the Lions and had the Browns ahead by 10 at halftime.
“I got very good earmuffs on,” Weeden said. “I went out and bought the best ones I could. You can’t listen to [the criticism].”
Weeden also said he has stopped following social media, which he said is turning into a joke.
Part of Pae’s joke was stating in the ad that “people named Brett” need not apply.
“I got about 20 emails about it from people who knew it was me,” Pae said. “Most were pretty funny. A couple thought it was serious. I guess that’s pretty funny also.”
“I would not find a whole lot of humor in that if it happened in Green Bay,” he said.
- Covered Browns, Cleveland sports since 1998
- Previously worked at Fox Sports Ohio, AOL Fanhouse, Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com
- Cleveland native, proud father of two daughters