This year, you will probably see a lot more Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians fans than you have previously. The Cavs NBA title win and the Indians MLB runner-up status have new Cleveland fans crawling out of the woodwork.
One thing I can guarantee is that this new revival of Cleveland sports will not extend to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns only won a single game in the current NFL season, and were easily the worst team in the league. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2003, and they haven’t had a winning season in almost 10 years. They are also one of the few franchises to have never made a Super Bowl appearance, much less actually won a Lombardi Trophy.
Despite this, my family and I are still passionate Browns fans, perhaps none more so than my brother. My younger brother loves the Browns so much that he painted one of the walls in his room Browns orange. Cleveland Browns orange is a bright, garish and completely obnoxious color. It would be hard to justify painting a wall that color even if the Browns were a powerhouse with multiple championships. And yet, despite possibly being the worst team in NFL history, there is a wall in my house that is bright orange in devotion to an incompetent franchise.
Being a Browns fan, I think, is a unique experience. Sure, lots of teams are bad, but the Browns are bad in a unique way. The Browns have a history of blowing leads, losing in the final seconds due to costly fumbles or blocked field goals. Cleveland football games often give you a spark of hope, pull you in and, just when you think they might finally win, they collapse and you feel stupid for believing again. The Browns also make ridiculous draft choices, like Johnny Manziel, who became one of the biggest embarrassments to ever grace the NFL. The Browns allow many of their players to leave the team in free agency, and are consequently always in a state of rebuilding. And this just describes the current Browns: “There are multiple examples of Browns failures across history.” If you’re interested, look up The Drive or The Fumble and relive some of the worst moments in Cleveland sports history.
Being a Browns fan carries not just the pain of team failure, but also the pain of ridicule of others. The Browns are one of the few teams where their existence is considered a joke. Snickers erupt anytime I mention the fact that I root for the Browns, and people use the awfulness of Cleveland football to make themselves feel better about their teams. I had a math teacher in high school who every time I asked to go to the bathroom asked me if I was “taking the Browns to the Super Bowl” and would laugh to himself. Very few sports franchises elicit toilet humor from high school teachers.
Despite all of this, Cleveland fans are still some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the country. We still have hope in our team, and we still have pride, however little, in our franchise. Moreover, as Lebron proved this summer, Cleveland is at its best when everyone counts us out. When the whole world says we can’t do it, that’s when Cleveland sports shows up. The Cavs reignited that hope in Cleveland fans, and it will continue until the Browns triumph. And trust me, when the Browns win their first Super Bowl, if you ever laughed at me, or mocked me or tried to discourage me, you will be getting a phone call from me. And I will not be a gracious winner.