I can’t get angry anymore.
I’m a guy who used to scream at the TV, jump and punch the ceiling, rage for at least 24 hours after a close Browns loss. A Browns loss used to effect my mood for a couple of days.
Not anymore. I’m numb.
But at least I’m writing with a smile tonight as the Browns defeated the noxious Baltimore Ravens 33–30 in overtime.
Before today’s improbable win over a finally-struggling Ravens club, I felt my numbness had crept over the entirety of Browns fandom. After a 1–3 start against the weak part of our schedule, after a head-shaking last-second loss to an injury-riddled San Diego Chargers team, after fifteen years of on-field impotence, fans were finally walking away.
They weren’t walking away angry, in the mood where you knew they were going to come back. They were simply walking away. Not just the youth, that you’ve already lost, but the older crowd as well. The only emotion was a slight tinge of sadness as fans simply stopped following a team that had once been at the center of northern Ohio’s hearts and watercooler talk.
It had been a long time coming, this apathy. I predicted it years ago when the returning Browns put the price of attending a game out of the reach of many of their most devoted fans, including yours truly. Years of expansion struggle and failures had taken their toll on the hardy remaining fan base. Like me, only a few could still get angry.
Is tonight’s win a mark of things turning around, or merely a road bump on the way to the Browns continuing irrelevance? Based on their schedule, I fear the latter, at least for now. Despite the rare victory in Baltimore against Joe Flacco, the rest of the season looks daunting. And there’s little confidence that the team’s braintrust will fix the team’s ills, embodied in their hugely disapponting defense, in the off-season.
But let’s enjoy the win. It pushes away, at least for a week, the sneering tweets of a media corps that largely - even the ones that the organization treats well - looks down their noses at the Browns, seemingly reveling in their ability to trot out sarcastic remarks at about the team’s continued struggle. Anyone who has followed my twitter feed knows I’m guilty of this as well. Finally, perhaps, we’ll have a respite.
It stops the sort of idiotic tripe that was published last week by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, as they trolled for their beloved page views with a call to boycott the franchise.
It gives us a break from the unrelenting downer that being a Browns fan had become.
And for that, I’m grateful. Thank you, Josh McCown, Gary Barnidge, Duke Johnson, and all the others who played well against the Ravens.
Thank you, Cleveland Browns. Thanks for holding back the tide, at least for one week.
Thanks to today’s performance, we’re still with you, for now. But your hold on us is tenuous, and this may be one of the most important seasons in the team’s history and their relationship with northern Ohio sports fans. The bright and shiny Cavaliers and Buckeyes beckon, offering a respite from feeling bad about ourselves at the end of every Sunday.
Give us something to inspire us. Make us feel strongly about this franchise again. We’re asking a lot against this tough schedule, but you’ve asked a lot from us over the years. And, trust me, you keep on asking.
Now or never, Cleveland Browns. Make this win the start of something new.
It’s your move.
Barry McBride is the founder and publisher of the Orange and Brown Report. You can write to him here.