SBD/December 6, 2012/Media

Reviews Not Too Positive For Browns' New Reality Show On Travel Channel

Browns equipment assistant Mike Thatcher was featured during the first episode
Travel Channel’s new reality show, “NFL Road Tested: Cleveland Browns,” follows the Browns as they prepare for each week's game, but in "trying to go through the whole week in a short period of time,” the show gives viewers “just a taste of each day but loses focus, hopping through people and places,” according to Connor Kiesel of WEWS-ABC in Cleveland. The 30-minute show follows a “linear structure, going day-by-day up to the culmination point on Sunday.” However, that is “not enough time to flesh out characters.” While there is a “fly-on-the-wall nature which is sometimes captured, episode one feels rushed, trying to cram too much into too little time.” The show “finds interesting details but needs to better streamline its story.” Kiesel wrote the "star of the show ... isn't a player but the Browns’ 66-year-old equipment assistant Mike Thatcher.” He is shown in the locker room "cleaning shoes and reminiscing about a cameo he made in the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption.'" The scene is “real, endearing and funny.” "NFL Road Tested" is produced by Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam’s wife Dee’s company, RIVR Media, though Haslam “never becomes the overwhelming focus of the show you might expect him to be” (, 12/5). MEDIA LIFE magazine’s Tom Conroy wrote the show is “based on the hope that the jobs of the Cleveland Browns' support staff … will be worth watching.” Conroy: “They're not. The show ranges from dull to ludicrously dull.” Critics normally “object to fakery in documentaries, but by the end of the episode most viewers will be begging for distraction.” The show "should have been road-tested before it aired” (, 12/4).

INSIDE THE SHOW: Show narrator Rick Riley said with the addition of Haslam, “for the first time in a long time there is reason for optimism” among Browns fans. Browns CEO Joe Banner said, “Jimmy leads and he’s got an energy and a contagiousness about him that just comes natural. That’s who he is. You can’t be around that and not feel it.” Pro Football HOFer Jim Brown said Haslam’s “leadership is obvious, his understanding of success is obvious." Brown: "He’s not bashful.” Riley noted the key to "success in the NFL is to build an organization that is strong from top to bottom and everywhere in-between.” Browns rookie RB Trent Richardson said, “We’re going to build it” ("NFL Road Tested," Travel Channel, 12/4). 
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