After firing head coach Rob Chudzinski at the end of his first season, the Cleveland Browns have found it difficult to remain attractive to potential replacement candidates. Whether it is a lack of skill position players or distrust in the future of the franchise, most options are signing with other teams or remain at their current positions.
Owner Jimmy Haslam has stated in multiple press conferences that the search is supposed to take a long time, and at a press conference earlier today he revealed what the fans have been waiting for.
“A few weeks ago I was having dinner and a couple sitting nearby starting talking about how they could be better play callers for us… and that got me thinking. Why not give them a chance to be the coach? Why not give all Browns fans a chance to coach?”
Haslam introduced an extended NFL partnership with Microsoft on installing tablets into each stadium seat, giving fans access to the playbook and vote for what play should be next.
“Now that players have helmet radios, we can cut out the middleman of relaying plays through this infrastructure we’ve developed with Microsoft.”
Using an approach similar to audiences of The Voice and America’s Got Talent, the play with the highest vote tally will be sent to the captain on the field. Haslam believes that by getting more fans involved in the game it will result in improved attendance.
“By selling out the stadium and not spending millions on a new coach, we’ve found a creative method of saving money to lure big-name players to Cleveland. The fans get a say in how the team performs and creates a sense of ownership for their team.”
Screenshot of the PlayCaller™ app developed by Microsoft and the Cleveland Browns
After running through a quick demo of the software, a brief Q&A session with Microsoft’s technology team revealed a few other unique features:
- Selecting “Trick Play” results in a random programmatic algorithm of player personnel. During the demo the media witnessed the execution of an onside kick on 2nd and 3.
- Ability to stream Netflix movies when team is down by 20 points or more.
- For road games, Haslam is hopeful that fans will buy tickets to sit in Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium to coach those games as well. Season tickets will require Browns fans to buy 18 games at full price instead of the usual 10 for other teams.
- Browns fan verification: Fans of both teams in the initial version will have access to the tablets. There are no current measures to prevent opposing fans from selecting “Victory Formation” on every play.
The team is also looking into focus groups and internet commenters for further future enhancements.