“Cleveland ’95: A Football Life” will be mandatory viewing for me

I’ve read countless tweets from Browns fans saying they won’t watch this documentary about the 1995 Cleveland Browns. Tony Grossi wrote about it and likened it to reliving a family member’s funeral. While those scenes depicting the stadium being torn apart might cause me to shed a few tears, after seeing the sneak preview, I think I’ll have to watch it because there is so much more there for someone like me born in 1979. I wasn’t anywhere near maturity as a football fan by that point in my life.

I know all the names of the guys in and around the Browns, but to say that I have vivid memories of Bill Belichick as Browns’ head coach would be a lie. It makes this story almost mandatory viewing for NFL fans when you consider that names like Bill Belichick, Mike Lombardi, Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Pioli, Eric Mangini and Ozzie Newsome were all at least partially built during this time period. Yes, it hits hardest for Browns fans who lost their team and in many ways still don’t have it back. Even still, part of being a Browns fan is understanding and wanting to explore the rest of the ecosystem that they exist in in the wider NFL view.1

And now that more than fifteen years have gone by and different pieces of the puzzle have been laid in their place, I guess I’d like to see what that puzzle looks like all put together. I probably won’t cement it, frame it and put it on my wall,2 but I think the exercise will still be worthwhile. Again, it will be painful, but as the Browns are on the precipice of a new owner and probably many more new pieces being added, it feels like the right time to suffer through some depressing memories in order to properly partake in this “after action review.”3

Anyway, there is a preview online featuring commentary from Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, Doug Dieken as well as a host of media members. From what I look like it doesn’t appear to be heavy on the Art Modell propaganda, so at least there’s that.

[Link – NFL Sneak Preview of Browns documentary]

  1. One of the most difficult adjustments for Browns fans since the team has been back has probably been missing out on five years of game evolution in terms of on and off-field culture. In many ways, I think Browns fans are still fighting many of the changes that happened while we were… ahem… “away.” []
  2. And really, who cements a puzzle and puts it up on their wall (other than my family growing up, that is? []
  3. I used to work in a big corporation and all their terminology has yet to leave me. From Wikipedia – “An after action review (AAR) is a structured review or de-brief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better, by the participants and those responsible for the project or event.” Technically I wasn’t responsible for anything here, but I’ll use it anyway. []

  • JE

    get it right…Touchdown Tommy 🙂

  • porckchopexpress

    Byner crying while talking about that last game?
    Everitt looking like someone told him he had to shoot Ol’ Yeller
    I wish I had let my daughter kick me in the nuts.

  • Ohiokie

    I was out of town, attending college, in Virginia back in the dark days of ’95, so I feel like I never properly mourned the Old Browns. This documentary really dredged up some things I hadn’t spent enough time thinking about….that empty feeling which started in the ’96 season when I had no reason to watch the NFL, seeing the Dawg Pound refuse to let go of Everitt, Byner getting choked up remembering the good times, and most importantly, Bellichick’s wardrobe. Wow that guy might be a football genius, but he has constantly looked like a fool in a sleeveless sweatshirt. In the scenes with Lombardi was that a foil shirt? Please explain, was he trying to cut water weight?
    I really enjoyed watching, reminiscing about the old team, and the insight into how tough the moving process was on the guys in Berea. I really appreciated how Modell was called out for ditching town and leaving the coaches in a terrible spot. But the doc didn’t touch on Bill’s sour relationship with the Cleveland media and fans, barely mentioning the Kosar cut.

  • Natedawg86

    I told her she could root for the Ravens, but her life would change a little. She would probably get cold sleeping outside, and she would be on her own for meals, and….

  • Natedawg86

    You think we will ever get close to being what they once were? I am ready for people to stop laughing when I tell them the Browns are going to win this week. Tired of being the butt of all jokes, but it will be worth it someday. I can’t give up on them.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    One day it’ll all depend on the kind of owner Haslam turns out to be, top down. I watched the show and it kind of got me fired up after having all of those memories rekindled. I forgot how it was a week after the Indians had the “losing” parade, how ironic, down Euclid Avenue that all of the Browns stuff went down. I was a student at CSU so you could say I was right in the heart of it all. It was unimaginable.

  • 5KMD

    Thanks for the reply Brian. I am always amused and skeptical at the the same time about comments like yours.
    In the same vein as someone commenting on an article about “X team” that “X team is irrelevant so why are we talking about them.”

  • 5KMD

    As a pittsburgh transplant from Cleveland (8 years now) I am still asked all the time when I am going to make the switch to you know who.
    I honestly tell them I would stop watching football altogether before I would ever consider thinking about rooting for that team.

  • No problem, and thanks for asking and not just assuming I was trolling. I grew up in Cleveland and my whole family lives there, I would never say the Browns are irrelevant, I know they mean too much to the city- which is why the city took any offer the league gave them for a team, and got screwed in the process.

  • I said I come to this site every day to read Indians news, do I sound like a bandwagon fan?

  • JK

    Is any Browns fan a bandwagon fan…?

  • You said if the Nu Browns were relevant, I would still be a fan, implying that I am a bandwagon fan. I have been an Indians fan for close to 35 years, hardly someone that roots for the frontrunner. I have no interest in NFL football, almost completely due to the Browns leaving Cleveland, and that’s that.

  • Todd S.

    Couldn’t agree more Brian R. I feel the EXACT same way. I was a H U G E Browns fan. H U G E!!!!!! Brian Sipe was my childhood hero. I grew up dreaming to become him one day.
    To me, Modell ripped a part of my soul out of me. It’ll never be the same again. EVER.