This may be reactionary. This may be ridiculous. This may be incredibly dumb. There’s actually a chance that this may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever written. Probably not, because I’ve written a ton of absurdly dumb things, but I’m just going off of pure stupid emotion right now.
I’m not going to get cute with this. I’m not going to spend hours trying to sculpt a great opening or craft a high quality piece of writing. This one is going to be a giant steaming pile of instant reaction. I won’t call it an open letter to anyone, because that’s a trope that even I won’t do in my currently irate state, but this is definitely directed at every single person of note in the Cleveland Browns organization.
What the hell is going on? What in the hell did I just watch?
Outside of some of the people employed by the Browns radio network, I might just be the most optimistic person in Cuyahoga County as it pertains to this team. Despite the fact that almost no one may have read any of it, I’ve constantly defended the moves and ideology of this most current incarnation of the Cleveland Browns.
You know what? No more. It may be insanely reactionary, but I’m done with all of that.
It’s been twenty years since that inept piece of garbage stole our team and moved it to Baltimore. Twenty years. Two decades and where the hell are we? That’s not a rhetorical question. Seriously, where in the hell are we?
There’s no answer at quarterback. The defense that was supposed to be good couldn’t stop anything. The running game that was to be the staple of the offense was pathetic. And then there were about a million penalties and turnovers. That was the opener. That seems to always be our opener. We have two hundred some days to move on from the last disastrous year, and it starts back up with the same crap without fail. Every single year.
It’s all I’ve ever known. I’m pushing thirty, and I’ve seen the Browns win on opening day once. One time. One freaking win on opening day that I can remember. I know we have awesome new jerseys (which suck, by the way), and awesome new improvements to the stadium that our impoverished city and county paid for despite our owner being a billionaire. But how’s the product on the field? How’s the team?
How is it Jimmy? Judging from what I just saw, it seems like a great big pile of (expletive edited). It seems like the same thing we’ve all seen since ‘99, just with new and improved (again, awful) jerseys. Like I said before, I was the most dyed-in-the-wool optimistic Browns fan in the vicinity of Lake Erie. But how can I honestly keep going on with that? How many season openers do I have to get excited for and then subsequently have my heart ripped out before I realize that this franchise is a complete and utter joke?
And I know that it may mean a lot to you as the owner, or to Mike Pettine as the Head Coach, or to Ray Farmer as the General Manager. But I’ve got news for all of you. It means a hell of a lot more to me. And to everyone else who has been here a hell of a lot longer than you, or the Head Coach, or the GM.
There are people here who sat in old Municipal Stadium and saw Otto Graham sling it to Dante Lavelli. And Frank Ryan to Gary Collins. People who cheered on Marion Motley, Leroy Kelly, and Jim Brown. People who ate dog bones and threw batteries while a local kid named Bernie took the team to the playoffs year after year after year.
Those people are here. Some are gone, some remain. No matter what, the legacy of those Cleveland Browns endure forever. At this point, after the past twenty years, it’s all we have. And I write that as someone who never got to experience any of it. Those were the days and years and teams of my Grandparents. Of my Aunts and Uncles, and of my parents.
All my generation has known is disappointment and debacle. The pride that we have for the team in orange and brown that calls the shores of Lake Erie home is entirely based on times and teams and players who came before our time. We’re proud of what Paul Brown did. We’re proud of Marion Motley and Bill Willis breaking football’s color barrier. We hang our hat on the Kardiac Kids and Bernie Kosar. We sing ‘Here We Go Brownies’ and let out two heartfelt barks immediately afterwards despite having never seen Dixon or Minnefield shut down opposing receivers.
So when does it change? When can the people who sat in old Municipal Stadium and saw Paul Brown patrol the sidelines be proud of their team again? When will the fans who cheered on Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar once again be apart of that excitement on the lakeshore? When will those of us who inherited a team and tradition in name only be able to proudly proclaim that we are fans of the Cleveland Browns?
I know that this is probably rambling and somewhat incoherent. But, to be fair, that’s a product of what we’ve been subjected to for year upon year upon year. That’s on you. That’s on the Browns.
I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I don’t have a single one of the answers. I’m just a sap who loves this team irrationally. I just know that we need to do better. We need to have better. And that’s not on the fans. That’s on the people in charge of the Cleveland Browns.
So take this as an open letter, if you will. You may read this, you may not. I really don’t care. Just make my team not a laughing stock and not a punching bag.
Is that too much to ask?