In 2012, the Cleveland Browns selected Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. At 28, he was the oldest player ever taken in the first round, and the Browns believed he would be their franchise quarterback for the next decade and beyond.
Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out that way. Weeden threw 23 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in 23 games (20 starts) for the Browns, who went 5-11 in 2012 and 4-12 in 2013.
The Browns released him in March 2014.
“Playing quarterback, especially in the NFL, is the hardest position in sports,” Weeden said on The DA Sow. “It’s not easy. It’s tough back there, especially if you’re not on a good team and you don’t have a bunch of guys you can really rely on and you’re just kind of dealt a short deck. It makes it tough. But it is what it is.”
Weeden, now 37, hoped to help change the Browns’ losing culture. Since returning to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have just one playoff appearance – and none since 2002.
“It’s tough to change culture – really anywhere, but especially in the NFL,” Weeden said. “The Browns’ organization, since it came back [to Cleveland], has not had a winner. There’s a lot of optimism going into every year, just like every city. But up there, it may be a little unrealistic at times. The truth of the matter is there’s just been so much turnover, so much change. It’s just hard to create a culture that’s going to produce a winner. That’s just calling a spade a spade.”
Weeden played for Pat Shurmur in 2012 and for Rob Chudzinski in 2013. The Browns hired Mike Pettine as head coach in January 2014 – two months before releasing Weeden.
Needless to say, it’s difficult to win with that kind of turnover.
“I think that was the case when I was there,” Weeden said. “I was there for two seasons . . . [and] I think we had two owners and three GMs and three head coaches and three offensive coordinators. I don’t care where you’re at; you can’t win doing that. Things didn’t align, and it is what it is. I think things are getting a little bit better for them up there now finally. I’m happy for them. But it was tough. It was tough times up there. We weren’t very good. I went from winning a lot of games at Oklahoma State to losing a bunch of games up there that I had never lost. It was pretty challenging.”
Weeden spent time with the Cowboys, Texans, Titans, and Texans again before hanging it up in 2018. He finished his career with 31 passing touchdowns and 30 interceptions.
A two-sport athlete, Weeden, who was drafted in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, is unbothered by criticism about his NFL career.
“It is what it is,” he said. “There’s times I didn’t play well enough, and that’s part of it. That’s just part of the world we live in. If I would have played better at times, especially in Cleveland – I played decent everywhere else, but if I would have played better in Cleveland, then [things might have been different].”