As if the political climate leading up to—and arguably since—this November’s election wasn’t enough finger-pointing and side-taking for you, well you just wait. Ohio went from being a battleground, or “swing” state to one that has now had fans of the same team verbally and electronically spatting with one another over support or disdain (because there’s never a middle ground) of the “Perfect Season” parade which is to be thrown in the event the Cleveland Browns go 0-16.
We discussed the concept of said parade with the creator, and if you listen to the tone, it would have appeared that very few truly want the parade to go down. The temperature on Twitter has been steadily rising over the last few weeks as local media members and fans have been had a few back-and-forths about the legitimacy (or embarrassment levels) of such a parade.1 While taking up multiple tweets and oftentimes involved individuals jumping in to defend their side, most end with all parties living to tweet another day.
Nevertheless, as the Browns lost yet another game on Sunday, one which many analytic-based metrics said was their best chance to not go winless during the 2016 season, things continued to get worse. On Sunday afternoon, following the Browns’ 13-point loss, ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Rizzo took things a bit further. Listen below to the five-minute rant, one where a local media member who hasn’t legitimately covered a game in years opts to lower the common denominator even further.
So if you’re keeping score at home, one of the bigger bloviators in all of Cleveland did the following:
- Threatened physical violence on anyone planning the parade
- Challenged anyone who is doing so to come down to a public restaurant, one which is evidently a sponsor, to partake in said violence
- Pulled the Do You Know Who I Am card at a pregame tailgate
- Used the word “Loserest”
- Spoke of the Browns as something he is not only a part of, but something in which he gets to choose his “teammates”
- Referred to his mouth-breathing as a “take”
- Threatened additional violence on anyone who comes near his family
- Name-dropped the absolute shit out of anyone in city or state legislature (because Sherrod Brown has nothing more important to worry about)
- Threatened to “mow” participants down with a car
- Promised that said peaceful gathering will “end ugly” if it goes down
- Referred to “loopholes” in a permit he didn’t know existed seconds earlier
- Promised he will keep Mike Polk Jr. from attending
- Threatened to use his television platform to identify participants in the parade and encourage listeners to send them hate mail
- Swore to God he would use his television platform to publicly shame and entice additional discord
Hold on: Let us recalibrate for a second.
Wait, what’s that you’re saying? That wasn’t enough? Here’s more:
…Which led to perhaps the best exchange of them all…
Point is, it’s getting bad out there, folks. Much like we all experienced a few weeks ago, people are leveraging their platforms to divide in a time where a group of folks who all want the same thing—you know, a winning football team—should be gathering together, unifying, rather than picking sides on how or where individuals should manifest their disdain for the product we’re forced to watch every Sunday.
And much like this past November where anti-media bias merely fueled the fire, we get random folks, ones whose Twitter bio talks of Cleveland fans as “family” wishing more violence.
At some point, the tenor surrounding this parade has transitioned from one of humor and high-fives to one of outright anger and borderline terrorism. It’s gone from thinking ideas may be somewhat ill conceived to those revolving GIFs of characters firing guns. While those who take it too far will say it was “just words”2 or “good radio”3, it’s a fan base divided, and it doesn’t appear to be improving any time soon.
And much like the fallout following November’s election, we can turn to local media in hopes of them elevating the conversation, but as talk radio is wont to do, we only find them fanning the flames for ratings and retweets. The irony of this all, of course, is that those against the parade claim it makes the city “look bad”, before spouting off incoherently.
Most importantly, however, we can thank the Browns. In the end, this is all their fault anyway. As hard as it is to win in the NFL, odds tell us it’s much harder to never win. Then again, the Browns have been defying odds for decades.