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.