There is much talk surrounding Sunday's Browns-Texans game about the expansion teams' bid for the playoffs. Cleveland (6-4) has been to the post-season just once since the franchise returned in 1999, that after the 2002 season. Houston (5-5), now in its fifth season, has never finished better than 7-9.
But Browns tight end Kellen Winslow would have none of that storyline.
''Us an expansion team?'' Winslow said on a conference call with Houston media. ''No, we're not an expansion team. I mean, we're the Cleveland Browns. There’s history here.
''I would say the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, those are expansion teams. We go back way back in the day with the Cleveland Browns. So there's a lot of history in this city and people are glad the Browns are back.''
Coach Romeo Crennel said the Browns won't shed that label until it achieves continuity. That certainly hasn't been the case in Cleveland, which has had three coaches in its nine years.
''What happens with an expansion franchise is because everybody wants to win right now, you get a program started, it doesn't happen right away, and then you change,'' Crennel said on a conference call. ''You change the front office, or you change the coach, you change players. Now the little bit that you’ve gained in two years, even though it doesn't show up on the won/loss record, you lose all of that when you bring somebody else new in. You're always starting over.
''The case here, it was six years, but was still an expansion team after six years, whereas if some continuity had been maintained year one, two, three, four, and five, then the team could have been a different team.''
Crennel said people underestimate how long it takes to establish an organization ''because this is a microwave society we live in and everyone wants it done yesterday.''
Patience must not be a virtue just of the coach, Crennel said. He needs that understanding from owner Randy Lerner. His late father, Al Lerner, was awarded the franchise on Sept. 8, 1998 for a then-NFL record $530 million.
''Sure, I knew how difficult it was going to be, but whether I had patience or not really didn't make a difference. If the guys that call the shots, Mr. Lerner, does he have the patience?
''I think he's shown that he understands that it takes some time to build and to build the right way. He wanted to build it the right way so we can be in place for a long time and be a good, solid team for a long time. No overnight wonders.''