Monday, August 27, 2018

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald…Trophy"


The Great Lakes Freighter Trophy, an unwieldy hunk of bronze nicknamed “The Barge” by Cleveland Browns writers, had spent years gathering dust in the Browns’ media room. Commissioned in 2002 by one-time Browns CEO Carmen Policy as a prize for a preseason rivalry game with the Detroit Lions, The Barge was apparently decommissioned in secret.

During last season’s training camp, Browns writer Scott Patsko asked his readers what the team should do with the derelict ship. By the end of the season, he realized it was gone.


Somehow, the Browns and Lions committed to the bit for 13 of the worst years in either franchise’s history. Somehow, they stopped without anyone noticing.

How did a massive bronze sculpture commissioned by an NFL team just disappear? Where did the big ship go—and how did it get built in the first place?


“One year, the damn Broncos…” Policy began, laughing as he recalled a particular game. “We were leading in the fourth quarter, and they put some starters back in! They literally won the game at the very end. [Former Raiders and Broncos cornerback] Willie Brown was there to present it, and he made a great comment along the lines of, ‘Congratulations on your exhibition of poor sportsmanship.’ It really kind of caught on.”