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Letting go: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

Well, for some of us it’s happy, anyway. For others, well, the Cleveland Browns have once again sucked them into a spiral of misery and defensiveness. I’ve stared at my screen for about 25 minutes now trying to figure out how I want to say what I want to say about the Browns and all the “drama” surrounding them.

It’s tricky because you have to love and respect the passion of Browns fans. It has not been easy being a Browns fan in our post-Marty existence1. In the last 28 years since Schottenheimer parted ways with the Browns, the franchise has had four winning seasons and three playoff appearances. Even franchises like the Bills, Lions, Raiders, and Jaguars are like, “Oh, wow, that’s really bad, you guys!” Many franchises would struggle to lose this much even if they tried. I mean that literally. To reach a level of complete embarrassment and ineptitude like this, it takes an incredible amount of bad luck mixed with poor decision making with just a dash or two of incompetence.

And for some reason, we as fans let this franchise get to us. We allow these guys to actually affect our mood. We fight with each other over this franchise. We get mad, we make outlandish claims, we synthesize the negativity into some kind of bizarre dark energy that we harness for our misery’s consumption. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we just let go of the Cleveland Browns for a while?

We, as Cleveland sports fans, have had a great 2016. The best ever, really. In June the Cleveland Cavaliers snapped our 52-year drought and delivered us a championship. In October, the Cleveland Indians went on a magical run to the World Series where they came up just short in what was one of the most entertaining and dramatic World Series of all time. I cannot ever remember having more fun as a sports fan that I had in 2016.

Then came November. With baseball over and the basketball season still in its early phase where nobody outside basketball fans seems to pay attention, the spotlight turned to the Cleveland Browns. And what that light presented was ugly. Suddenly 0-16 became more real than ever before. For some reason, many fans decided to throw away ten months of fun sports to allow a month or two of meaningless, bad football to throw them completely off the rails.

We are now to the point where people are threatening to run over people with a car just because some people are trying to have some fun with this season? I’ve seen memes on Twitter of violent threats and guns as a response to the craziness. While I’m sure these are all just tasteless jokes born out of rage and jealousy that others are able to let go and have fun with things, it’s still such a bad look for all of us. Why not just walk away from the Browns for a while? Maybe sit the next couple plays out, Champ.

There are multiple more productive ways to handle all of this. You have people like Michael Bode and Joe Gilbert on this site who don’t focus on the negatives but instead break down college players and try to figure out who can help this team get better. You can be like the countless fans who watch every week and just shake their heads and laugh and then get on with their day. You can be like me, and pretty much stop watching2. Other than the Cowboys game, which I went to, the only other Browns game I’ve watched since the Week 3 was the Steelers game.

Am I not a fan? Eh, I don’t care about labels, honestly. I do know that as a 37-year-old man, I’m no longer going to let this sorry franchise impact me in a negative way. If the Browns are making me sad or angry, I’m just turning them off and tuning out. When the front office puts out a team with players capable of winning some games, I’ll watch again. But why can’t we just choose to stop all this other nonsense? Let go of the hate and the rage. It’s sports!

Find some other NFL players you like watching and focus on them for a while. I’ve been watching the Cowboys a ton this year because of Ezekiel Elliott. It’s been fun. I’m not a Cowboys fan. When I went to the Browns game against the Cowboys, I rooted 100 percent for the Browns. I became annoyed by all the Cowboys fans in attendance. I just realized that it’s OK to watch other teams who play good football for now. As soon as the Browns are ready to win, we can come back.

And look, I get it, we all have different passions and interests. For some, football, specifically the Browns, is passion number one. It’s hard to escape the suffocating and all-encompassing negativity of the Browns. Who am I to tell anyone else what to do, you know? It’s just advice, really. We don’t have to be so hostile as a fan base. We can choose to let go of some of the anger. Focus on the things we feel the team can do to improve. Or focus solely on the things we can control. We can’t control coaching decisions, management decisions, roster management, etc., so why get so worked up over it?

I don’t know, this is probably all coming off way more preachy than intended. It’s just been disheartening this week to see so many fans at each other’s throats and to hear so much anger and rage from my friends who are Browns fans. All of this is really just meant to open up a discussion on this topic. Is it possible to choose not to rage? Is it possible to just let go of the Browns?

Today, we do have a choice. We can choose to threaten violence toward other fans, or we can watch the Cleveland Cavaliers play tonight. And hey, the Cavs are really, really fun! In a few months, we’ll have the NFL draft and then we’ll have new players to be excited about and new hope to believe in. The end is near, my friends. Hang in there. We’ll survive this. We’ve made it this far, after all.

  1. Marty stepped down as coach in 1988. That’s right, the Browns are going on almost 30 years of mostly misery now. []
  2. Part of this is because I live in Columbus and most Sundays the Bengals are on TV instead of the Browns. But I wouldn’t be watching, anyway, to be honest. []

  • RGB

    135 days until the draft.

  • Natedawg86

    SOOOOPER BOWL

  • mgbode

    SOUPER Bowl at Soup & Salad

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, we can let officially let go of them for one week next year when they host the Vikings in London!

  • JNeids

    My first kid was born in May 2014. She watched every game of the ’14-’15 season with us, either at home or a bar. After the season, I wondered why I wasted so much time when I got nothing back, so I started distancing myself before last season. I might have watched a couple games with my daughter, but I wasn’t planning my Sundays around them, it was more if I didn’t have any other plans that week. With my daughter over a year old, we did a lot more on Sundays as a family, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the games.

    This season? I haven’t actively/intentionally watched a minute. If I’m somewhere and the game is on, sure I’ll watch. But there was zero reason to waste any Sunday this year with the weather being what it was, and I don’t regret a second of it. And I could not care less (think I got that right) what anyone thinks of me as a “fan.” When they start being deserving of my attention, I’ll start watching again. I don’t mean I’ll wait for them to be contenders, but at least entertaining. And if that makes me less of a “fan,” or makes me a bandwagonner, I have zero problem with that. My son was just born a few weeks ago and I hope to raise my kids as Browns fans (please don’t call child services), teach them about the highs and the lows. But I’ll wait until at least next year to start with my daughter. And if next year looks like it might be as bad as this year, then I’ll enjoy another 17 Sundays with the family that I might have otherwise not. That’s time I’m not getting back.

    All that said, I have yet to stop caring. Prime example – when Pryor got hit with that ridiculous taunting penalty in the beginning of the season, I was mad. So they haven’t lost me 100% (yet). But they do need to earn back my viewership.

  • Garry_Owen

    What did she drink at the bars?

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi JNEIDS … some might consider it cruel & unusual not letting your 2 year-old daughter watch the games … did you ask her about this first ?

  • tigersbrowns2
  • Hopwin
  • CB Everett

    The funny thing is (ok the sad thing is) that most people on WFNY, over the course of this season, have seemingly been in a good place about things Browns. Obviously, I know these hallowed cyber walls are not purely representative of the fan base, but I don’t see any of the “road rage” types that you’re describing are out there (take Rizzo clown schtick aside). I don’t see a hint of it.

    The most vitriol actually comes from those yelling at fans for being insane to still care (which begs why care about what others care about?).

    Anyway, maybe all sports are insane to care about if you really look at things logically, but I think a lot of folks are probably where I’m at–a dormant sense of care, a sleeper cell of care ready to be lit, a freaking time capsule of care ready to be dug up (in 2036?). Until that time, I’m going to periodically glance over at what they’re building with the level of interest I give me 4 year old building his lego structure. Ok, enough mixed metaphors for one day.

  • JNeids
  • tigersbrowns2

    good post CB …

  • Hopwin

    The anti-parade guys are pretty fired up.

  • humboldt

    I’ve been a member of the Apathy caucus this year, and I must say I both pity and envy people who care about the Browns this year. Pity because it feels like the franchise has passed a threshold of prolonged futility and haplessness where it genuinely doesn’t deserve the commitment of our time and energy (and emotion). Envy because I miss caring about the Browns and anticipating Sunday afternoons as a fun escape and opportunity for social gathering. I don’t quite understand how people are manufacturing anger towards those who still care, but am glad I’m not tuned in enough to see or hear the infighting.

    Agree that our fan base is a sleeper cell, but it also feels like football fandom is generally on the decline. I’ll pay attention if the Browns are ever competitive again, but I don’t know that it will ever be the same.

  • I would say the comment section of WFNY is damn near the least representative place imaginable when it comes to Cleveland sports fans. The toxicity is outside….at the stadium, in the bars, on Twitter, etc.

  • Sam Gold

    https://media.giphy.com/media/5sMxpephB32rm/giphy.gif

    Seriously, pretty sound advice though…

  • Sam Gold

    I’m not a fan of the parade idea but definitely don’t feel too fired about it either way. In fact, it gave me a moments respite from my flowering apathy.

  • jpftribe

    I find the snark mostly humourous and almost always very clever. You have to laugh at this stuff. I get irritated at the Browns, but the fans not so much.

  • nj0

    The sad thing is I just don’t care anymore. Just five or so years ago, I made a point of watching every game. (Which is no small feat when you’re cash-strapped and out-of-market.) When I missed one, I actually felt a little guilt. Then the slow progression – fewer games every year, better ways to spend my Sundays, why even bother with pirated streams? – to the point where I will neither spend a dollar to support the team nor a minute watching if it means inconveniencing myself in any way.

    People say, just wait until they start winning. And maybe that will be true. But honestly, I think these decades of dysfunction have done irreparable harm to how I view and follow the Browns. There isn’t any going back.

  • CB Everett

    I’m a pro tem member of team Apathy for protection and sensibility but an at large member of team Snark (because well, snark is the mitochondria of Cle sports fandom). Add in two pours of team Sloth (because of advanced age and life’s toll, etc). But yeah, you’re right…that little creeping mixture in there of Envy that we all have. I’m going to ignore it for now. So in recap, I’m team ASS (Apathy, Snark, and Sloth)

  • CB Everett

    Yikes. Thankfully as an ex pat, I don’t see that. And I guess this is a good time to thank you for this insulated bubble.

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    he couldn’t because she was confined in her “safe space”

  • mgbode

    I’m sorry, you are confusing me. Can you get me a Venn diagram or a flowchart so I can follow?

  • CB Everett

    Cam Erving…guardian of Northumbria! What could go wrong?

  • JM85

    I heard Rizzo on the radio. Apparently his station isn’t concerned with a host physically threatening people.

  • NankirPhelge

    I’m rabidly apathetic.

  • jpftribe

    Much like twitter, talk radio eventually devolves into the lowest common denominator.

  • CBI

    Christmas shopping… DONE!

  • Hopwin
  • Steve

    I don’t think it’s a sad thing at all that a decent portion of the fanbase is taking this in stride and making the best of it. Sports are still only entertainment.

    What is sad though is that so many are bitter over trivial stuff like this and not that the city that is having problems getting salt trucks on the street is throwing $70M at stadium renovations.

  • mgbode

    technically, the voting population of the city is doing that as it was on the ballot

  • jpftribe
  • jpftribe

    I completely agree.

  • mgbode

    No doubt. Still, the voting population approved the funding of millions for this purpose.

  • NankirPhelge

    If it’s my baby-sitter, I’m not here.

  • Steve

    I don’t think this $70M is from the sin tax. Its other taxes that the city is using for stadium upgrades.

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  • mgbode

    could have sworn I read that it was