Greetings and salutations from beautiful, leaf-filled Cleveland Heights, Ohio. It’s been a little while since I checked in regarding our NFL team. The last time I put pen to paper, so to speak, I was incensed with the dismal performance the Browns gave us in the season opener. After an offseason of falling hook, line, and sinker, for every single thing coming out of Berea, I had finally had enough. It was the last straw in a long, long line of them. That was the end of the optimistic part of my Browns fandom. I was done bending over backward to justify the direction of the franchise. Done with trying to squeeze an ounce of positivity out of every dried up, sweat-soaked rag that has been thrown our way for years.
I know I was late to that party, but this iteration of the Browns is all I’ve really ever known. My first ever game was the last one before they left. I was still years away from learning the wonders of algebra and I was convinced Mark Price was the greatest basketball player of all time. I wasn’t even really an NFL fan. That wouldn’t come until three years later when that team that I saw play its' last game in Cleveland somehow came back to us. Basically, I’m saying cut me some slack. This recent incarnation of the Browns is what I’ve had my whole life.
But like I said, the benefits of my doubts ended on that early September afternoon when the Browns got absolutely run off the field. Everything just seemed to click. It was a moment of clarity.
And then it got worse. Everything. The dysfunction of the front office and the coaching staff. The realization that we have the worst overall coaching staff in the league. The sobering truth that the roster is devoid of talent and the philosophy on talent is somehow both insane and absurd. I realized that the Browns were screwed up at every conceivable level.
And that was week one. We still had fifteen more of those games to go. And go they did, running the gambit. Frustrating losses, blowout losses, unacceptable losses, some more blowout losses, and an absolutely inconceivable loss to the team that used to be us. All the while, as the losses mounted, I kept writing out rough drafts of articles I wanted to send to you. Every week I wrote them, and every week I just couldn’t seem to get them finished. I couldn’t put a finger on why until today.
I read your piece “The Foundation Crumbles” during my lunch, and once again everything just clicked. It all made sense looking back. My fire had burned out. My passion was gone. This season had finally done it to me, and it just about breaks my heart to admit that. More than once I’ve wanted to write a kind of open letter to the Browns or to Jimmy Haslam or to God or to someone. Whoever is responsible for the current state of this football team. My football team and your football team. Our friends’ football team and our family’s football team. I wanted to write that open letter to that person, whoever they are, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do something like that.
Which is why when I read what you wrote I wanted to write this open letter to you. Because I feel horrible that I haven’t kept up with finishing those rough drafts that I started. And because I feel even worse about what is going on with our Cleveland Browns. I mean, this is as rock bottom as we’ve been with the exception of our team being taken from us. This is the lowest that the lows have been with this franchise. And we still have a whole month to go.
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We’re well beyond “Open Letter to the Owner” territory. We’re at “Open Letter to Fellow Fan” territory. What this team has done is beyond anger. It’s even beyond apathy. This fanbase has been chipped away at over the past twenty years, for sure. But we’re reaching the point where the chips are finally adding up to the entire mass cracking and collapsing. I was among the last of the sycophants sucking up every last morsel of crap Berea threw our way, and even I’m done with that now.
There will be plenty of time to try and figure out how in the hell we can salvage this wreck of a franchise in the weeks and months and (probably) years going forward. I may even have some thoughts on that for you, if you would have them. But right now, I’m just thoroughly depressed over the state of the Cleveland Browns. In fact, it’s probably wrong to even call whatever we’ve been watching the Cleveland Browns. We all have loved ones no longer with us who bore witness to the real Browns, and those people would be disgusted with this. And the thought of that almost enrages me.
Maybe this will find it’s way to the halls of power in Berea or Tennessee. Probably not. But for now, this is a twenty eight-year-old native Clevelander thanking you for the opportunity to get this off his chest. I know the title of these is “Fan View”, and I’m hoping this is about as accurate of a current “Fan View” as one could hope for. With that:
A Youngish Browns Fan Still Waiting for His Team to Come Back