Life According to Dan Coughlin

He went toe-to-toe with Muhammad Ali and waded into the madness of 10 Cent Beer Night. Dan Coughlin's four-decade career as a Cleveland sports reporter has spawned Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It, a new book of behind-the-scenes tales that off

Read two excerpts from Dan Coughlin's new book, Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It:

I liked Art Modell. I really did. Art was a good guy. He got screwed. 

The city of Cleveland built a brand-new stadium for the Indians, a team that had never tried. Art Modell all those years with the Browns never won anything, but God knows he tried. He came close many times. He took over the stadium and bailed out the city. The city took him for granted.

The real old-guard fans never forgave him for firing Paul Brown. Anyone alive today will never forgive him for moving the Browns to Baltimore. That's understandable.

He won't be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame until everybody 25 years old today is dead.

Muhammad Ali was the most electric person I ever covered. Just being around him near fight time. Oh, yes. I've never been around anyone like him.

Thank God Albert Belle got a hip injury that ended his career early before his being voted into the Hall of Fame ever became an issue. I'll never have to explain why I would never vote for him. ... Thank God for that hip injury.

I used to start my baseball stories with poems. I would write four lines of light verse and that was my lead. It's a baseball writer technique from the '20s and '30s. It was a gimmick, but people loved it. But it was tough some nights to come up with a poem in Kansas City when you have an hour less to write because of the time zone.

There was a keg of beer in most of the Major League locker rooms. The players would come in after the game and have a beer out of the keg. This went on well into the '80s.

There have been some bad trades, but Cleveland isn't the only town that's made some doozies. The Chicago Cubs traded Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio. The Cincinnati Reds traded Frank Robinson to Baltimore for a used-up pitcher named Milt Pappas. And, of course, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. But in Cleveland we think of Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn. It damn near destroyed the franchise.

I'll tell you about a bad deal: Going to the Cleveland Press in 1982 [a few weeks before it shut down].

I was on a commercial plane with the Indians in the '70s. Suddenly there was a commotion behind me. Here, tumbling down the aisle fistfighting were Victor Cruz, our relief pitcher, and Ron Pruitt, our backup catcher. They were tumbling over nuns and priests who were on this flight. I asked Pruitt and Cruz what the heck was going on. They said, "Oh, we do that in the bullpen all the time."

I bought a Lou Boudreau postcard in 1948. I put it in an envelope and asked him to autograph the picture and send it back to me. He licked his own 1-cent stamp. He addressed it to me in the same handwriting he signed the front of the card. He had to take my address off the outside of the envelope I wrote to him.

This was a guy with pure class. But he was not unique for his era.

LeBron James is the most pampered athlete I've seen in 45 years. By leaps and bounds ahead of whoever would be No. 2.

His posse had privileges in the arena on game night and on team flights. Privileges that not even Michael Jordan asked the Bulls for. That's why Dan Gilbert was so outraged at the insult of the way LeBron left.

Part of it is our fault. Today when the media goes into the locker room after practice, there are 20 of us. We crowd around whoever is there. Somebody is talking, we pounce. When I covered the Browns in the '70s, there were four of us. The players don't need the media, and there's too many of us.

How did we forgive Al Lerner? He sat on the plane when Art went to Baltimore.

It's too bad that they use the name Browns and the uniform colors. They should have taken a brand-new name and left the proud franchise of the Cleveland Browns rest in peace. Instead, they continue to smear the franchise's good name.

Share this story: