NFL Road Tested With The Cleveland Browns- Fumbles as a TV Show.

NFL Road Tested With The Cleveland Browns- Fumbles as a TV Show.

Tuning into Travel Channels new show,  NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns, I was expecting the quality that we have come to expect from the typical NFL branded shows - Hard Knocks on HBO, Inside The NFL on Showtime, or any of the Sunday morning NFL preview shows.

What makes these shows so successful is the precision camera work that captures the raw emotion of these athletes as they practice, play, succeed, and fail on and off the field.

Whether it’s a slow motion shot of the ball flying through the air or hearing a 350 pound rookie sob like a baby after getting cut, we as viewers are accustom to the intimate side of NFL branded shows.

NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns has none of this.  They tout it as an inside look and what they mean is a look inside the organization of the Cleveland Browns.  From the owner to the guy who scrapes the footballs (literally) to the guy who shines shoes in the locker room, the cameras capture the complete monotony of every day life.

Episode one follows new owner Jimmy Haslam as he meets and greets fans, then the guy who shines shoes in the locker room, then the PR guy, then the guy who scuffs up the balls and then Phil Dawson, the kicker, as he looks at his shoes and scuffed up balls.

While it’s moderately interesting to learn about these things, if this is what the Travel Channel rolls out to a national audience in the premiere episode, I can’t imagine who they are going to follow in episode 13?  The guy who holds the ladder for the guy who changes the lights in the men’s bathroom?!

Here is why the show won’t work; it’s not produced by the NFL.  The NFL has some of the best crews in the business shooting the games, meetings, and practices and they don’t have to pay for a dime of the footage.  They own the footage to the games, etc.

Anyone else producing a show about the NFL has to license the footage from the NFL.  That can be insanely costly when you are talking about a half an hour times 13 episodes.  In one shot, the Travel Channel crews actually get a great shot of the NFL films crews in front of them.  That’s the point.  The NFL is always in front.  Everyone else is behind their cameras and it shows.

So, Travel Channel produces the show on the cheap and tries to cover everything but football which makes it a show about people who are paid to be behind the scenes and in the shadows.  Exciting?  Not even a little bit.  There are no high stakes.  There is no pressure. There is no drama.  Just people calmly going about their days doing their jobs.

This is not a show about football, it is a show about the people who work around the players.  It’s a show about the behind the scenes of the front office, the people working the score board, and, if we're lucky, the concession stands!

There's more to the show than meets the eye, like how it made it on the air in the first place. NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns is a case of who you know, not what you know.  Several years ago, Travel Channel development executive Danny Schwartz was a producer at RIVR Media in Knoxville, Tennessee, a company owned by Brown's owner Jimmy Haslam’s wife Dee Haslam.  Schwartz left RIVR and applied to Travel with a reference from Dee Haslam.

Cut to 2012, Dee Haslam comes calling to Travel Channel and her former employee about a show that has nothing to do with “travel” but does have the sexy appeal of drawing in a new audience who love the NFL.

Ta awful TV show is born.  Haslam is making a show about her husband with a network that knows nothing about football and a production company that makes design and make over shows.

You can see the result because NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

We tried to contact Schwartz for comment, but never received a call back.

You can’t blame Haslam or any of the Haslam clan.  This is a 30-minute commercial for their team on a network starving for some attention.  It’s a great business move.  A “real” sports network would more than likely have passed on an inside look at shoe shining. The Travel Channel is the last call network willing to go home with anyone to feel loved.

At a time of year when most of the networks are airing re-runs and people are looking for new shows to keep them entertained, NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns isn’t worth the time.

If you are looking for interesting shows about the NFL, stick to the NFL Network, Showtime, HBO or the episode of the Brady Bunch when Joe Namath plays catch with Bobby.  All of those are better choices than NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns.




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  • It's somewhat entertaining for us Browns fans but outside of that your point is very valid.

  • In reply to browns50:

    I think any fan would like to see their team on a show. It's cool. It's not a commentary against the Browns, they are an amazing and loyal fan base. It's the show that's awful.

  • You know, my dad is that guy who "shines shoes in the locker room" but he does so much for the Browns. Maybe the show isn't as exciting as watching a player cry or whatever, but the show features the background people, the people that have roles you wouldn't even imagine meant anything in the NFL (like my dad) that without them, the Browns or any other team would be lost. Mike Thatcher doesn't shine Phil Dawson's shoes for a living, he does so much more. He does laundry for every single player, he has brought home 4 or 5 boxes of balls to scrape, and there is no way in hell he puts in less than 40 hours a week for that team. He stands on the sidelines of every home game with three footballs in his hand, waiting for the ref to need one. If he doesn't give the ref the ball in a matter of seconds, the refs get pissed and the ground crew gets blamed. So maybe this show is a fumble to people who would rather see a professional football player cry or watch a slow motion ball in the air, but any fan at heart would find it interesting to see what it really takes to work for an NFL team.

  • In reply to tt122410:

    What your dad does is very important, all of the behind the scenes jobs are, I am not discounting any of that. That being said, none of them can carry an entire season of a national TV show that touts being behind the scenes of an NFL team.
    The Travel Channel does a bad job of covering your dad! You do a better job of describing the drama and intensity of his job. They can't show any of that because of the licensing, so it falls flat.

  • In reply to David Wallach:

    Understandable. I know everyone has the right to voice their opinions, and thank you for the comment. I guess being his daughter I know more about it than that TV show explains. Thank you for putting that in perspective for me.

  • In reply to tt122410:

    Thank you. I hope that someday my daughter is as proud of me as you are of your dad. As a father, your comments would fill my heart with pride.

  • Dave,
    its a 5-6 show series produced by NFL Films...get your facts straight before you drive the show down. The Travel Channel funded it, but the entire crew is NFL Films. Films also is tending to Travel Channel's audience that features mostly aged and wealthy Americans who watch the channel for its 'travel', not football-related programming...hence the show's title 'Road-Tested'. And I very much believe it is being shot beautifully, especially with their use of film rolls for stories off the field. Otherwise I have no other comments.

  • In reply to DR2230:

    If this is a NFL Films Crew shooting this, then they are in bigger trouble than I thought. Then it falls onto awful story telling, writing and editing. It's poor decision making from the executives. If you are saying that they have full access to everything and they chose to base a series on the support staff, it pounds home the point that the Travel Channel should stick to what it knows, because they know nothing about making a show about football.

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    In reply to David Wallach:

    I completely disagree with you on this show. While I did not catch all the episodes, I get enough facts and diatribe on NFL Network, ESPN, FOX and every other network that covers sports. What was interesting to see is the behind the scenes workings of what makes an NFL team run and all the enormous work that is done in support of not only these players but their families as well. What is amazing to me is how quick you are to put the entire series down without stopping to consider that what you said also demeaned the very people they portrayed. I have been a huge fan of the NFL for a long time and attended many pro games but have always wanted a glimpse of the day to day workings of a team. This series finally gave that look. Was it my favorite team? No but I am certain that what happens in Cleveland isn't vastly different in the other 31 NFL teams either. What a shame you were not able to appreciate the series for what it was. If you don't want to watch then don't. NFL Network has plenty of talking heads to satisfy you.

  • Wow, this is an absolutely atrocious article. Poorly written with many inaccurate allegations.
    I don't think this series was ever intended to be a show about football. From the very first press release, this was referred to as "unveiling never-before-seen footage of what it takes to travel an entire professional football team from city to city, game to game, during the regular season. Every road trip requires a massive amount of coordination to haul the 150-person squad 20,000 miles a season. From feeding an entire team, to clothing and housing them, to how a stadium prepares and deals with more than 70,000 rabid fans..."
    As mentioned before me, NFL Films crews are shooting and producing everything. In fact, they are using some of the SAME PRODUCERS FROM HARD KNOCKS.
    I do give you credit for realizing the Haslam -Travel Channel connection, but did you really think that of all the places the NFL would agree to air a show about football, they would agree to airing it on the Travel Channel? That's why this is a much more "tame" look at the NFL.
    There are 5 shows scheduled to air this season, which is a number far below the amount of grammatical errors in your post.

  • In reply to Tom Startus:

    Tom. It's still an awful show. The story telling,awful, the guys from Hard Knocks must be tired, because the camera work is also tired. The "real" moment when they meet the owner of the Cavs. was about as authentic as an employee of Travel or RIVR posting on this site. The show is a dog.
    BTW- I cleaned up my grammatical errors, what are you guys going to do to fix this show?

  • I have to say I enjoy this show. I think where it falls short is the fact they are trying to cram to much into a 30 minute time slot. There is just too much behind the scenes in a 7 day period to try and condense into a 1/2 hr. show. However, I will continue to watch it every Tuesday.

  • Just watched the 2nd. show, it scored100%.
    If you know so much , why are you not producing?

  • In reply to robb:

    If they gave me creative control of this show, I would produce it for free.

  • I am a huge Browns fan, and I was excited to see a behind-the-scenes look at my favorite team. And I understood that this was not going to be a "Hard Knocks" show - Haslam described it as a "softer hard Knocks." OK. Fair enough. It's debatable whether Hard Knocks is good for the teams that are on it etc. But this show is absolutely awful. It's ungodly bad. The "cliffhanger" at the end of last night's episode was that a conveyor belt meant to remove luggage from a plane had broken. I am not kidding. Go look up the shows RIVR media has made. I don't watch the travel channel, but they all seem equally awful. No one in Cleveland media will say/print what everyone knows - this show is embarrassing as hell to all involved - because it's the new owner's wife who's making it. But it completely sucks. I just pray - as a Browns fan - that this is not a preview of the quality of football decisions Haslam and Banner are soon to make.

  • Whether it’s a slow motion shot of the ball flying through the air or hearing a 350 pound rookie sob like a baby after getting cut, we as viewers are accustom to the intimate side of NFL branded shows.... This one is so amazed me... I like this if you don't mind then you please this type of informative post more.

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