When I was a lad of 14 years of age my family migrated to Cleveland, Ohio from the heart of Steeler country. That was in 1964. My father, his brothers, their sons, pretty much all of our clan that relocated to Cleveland from Pennsylvania remained staunch Steeler fans. All but me.
I chose to hang my hat and my hopes on the storied Cleveland Browns. After all, a team so elite, so grounded in a rich winning tradition, would certainly win many more championships over the coming seasons. Nothing about those Browns led me to suspect that my team would not even exist by 1996.
For many years I faithfully purchased season tickets and rarely missed a game. I loved Brian Sipe and those magical Kardiac Kids. I spent the coldest, most miserable afternoon of my life frozen in my seat during the “Red Right 88” loss to Oakland in the playoffs during the 1980 season, but my love for the Browns never waivered.
Then came Bernie Kosar and the powerhouse Browns of the mid to late eighties. Here was a team with such swagger, such a winning attitude, that they seemed destined to win a couple Super Bowls. As fate would have it the Denver Broncos had other ideas, however, and again my heart was broken as I watched the Drive and the Fumble crush my hopes. Still, these were my beloved Browns, win or lose, and I stood behind them 100%.
A greedy multi-millionaire stole my beloved Brownies and slithered off to Baltimore with them in 1995. I was filled with anger and frustration, and lost interest in all things NFL for a while. The return of the Browns as an expansion team in 1999 was a dream come true. Sadly, what has transpired with this team since that joyous return has been an absolute nightmare.
A disinterested son who inherited the team from his father managed to make bad decisions one after another, and so the reborn Cleveland Browns became the poster child for a bad football organization since their rebirth in 1999. The recent hiring of Mike Holmgren to right the ship brought a glimmer of hope, but the fruits of his efforts have so far have done nothing to make this team a winner.
Which brings me to this.
I am now 61 years old. My health is not what it used to be. I can’t afford to spend a small fortune to see these corporate Browns play in person at their yuppie stadium filled with trendy fans who gladly pay the extortion called a personal seat license that allows them to purchase season tickets so they can watch this garbage take the field and defile the legacy of the Cleveland Browns in person. Many of these folks I suspect never heard of Brian Sipe, or Dave Logan, or Hanford Dixon, or Turkey Jones.
The decades of superb winning football and multiple championships I expected to enjoy in my future when I was a young man came to fruition after all. Too bad it’s the Steelers and not the Browns who accomplished what I had envisioned.
Recently the Browns took the field against the Houston Texans. The game was over in the first 10 minutes. I sat stunned as I witnessed one of the absolutely most disgusting performances by an alleged professional football team I have ever personally seen. Since the Browns return I have spent 12 seasons watching inferior and inept head coaches, over-rated quarterbacks, wasted draft choices, and flawed systems buzz through the revolving door at Browns headquarters.
It is becoming painfully clear to me that I will not see the Cleveland Browns play in the Super Bowl in my lifetime.
Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, they all hurt, but at least in those days the Browns were competitive, exciting, and fun to watch. I would gladly re-live each of those seasons, heartbreaks and all, rather than spend another Sunday afternoon watching the most inept, boring, pathetic, talentless football team around.
This team is an insult to any Browns fan who treasures what Cleveland Browns football once was.
I’ve had enough. I don’t have forever to wait for the Browns to become even respectable again.
Maybe I’ll return to my roots and say “Go Steelers”.