Levine: A Browns Town... But, Why?

Les looks for the reasons why fans follow the Browns through tough times...

Can someone explain why Cleveland is such a Browns town?

I am a life-long Clevelander, and have been on radio or TV in northeastern Ohio on almost a daily basis since 1971.  I'd like to think I have a pretty good feel for the sports community.  But every once in awhile, I am stumped by the collective sports mentality.

While I agree with most people that Cleveland is a ‘Browns Town', I am not sure I understand the reason.  In 1989, the Browns lost in the post-season to the Denver Broncos for the third time in five years.  Certainly the ‘80's gave us incredible excitement, beginning with ‘Red Right 88', and continuing through ‘The Drive' and ‘The Fumble'.  And going back in history, the Browns dominated the 40's and 50's, and claimed the last championship in this town in 1964.  The 60's were also exciting the rest of the way, while the 70's began a low period in the franchise history. 

But that lull didn't last as long as this current one, with no relief in sight.  Other than a brief playoff appearance in 1994, which included a win over New England, the highlights of the 1990's included the ‘Vinny/Bernie thing';  ‘I can only go by what I see';  ‘The Move';  three years of hiatus;  and a return to the NFL in 1999 with a terrible expansion team.  

The turn of the century wasn't much better for this franchise.  So far, the team has faced the death of its owner;  ‘the gut feeling' that tore the locker room apart;  the domination of the ill-equipped Butch Davis (at least in personnel decisions); no football leadership at the top;  and an interim-coach to finish off the season, just like in 1989.

Your suggestions and comments are welcome at my e-mail address or website as seen at the bottom of this column.  After fifteen years of lack of success (including 3 years on hiatus), why is Cleveland so enamored with this franchise?  If you are under 20 years old, you can't possibly remember the ‘good times', let alone a championship.  If you are under 30, all that you have seen is disappointment, and that was before the downfall.

Is it because of the lack of success of the other major teams in town, the Indians and Cavaliers?  Or the fact that games are just once a week, and the buildup towards the next game continues to keep us positive?  Or that the NFL involves parity, that we somehow think each year will be ‘our year'?  Or maybe because of the great success of the 50's and 60's, our parents or other family members made Browns Sundays a very important part of our lives?  That's probably a big reason, but not big enough to carry us through the disappointments of the past fifteen years.  I can throw out ideas all day long, but I don't think I will hit on the right answer---so I'm leaving it up to you. 

Terry Robiskie talks like the head coaching job is his to lose.  I don't know if we should give him credit for being so positive, or we should question his sanity?  I'd love to see him stay on in some capacity---and he deserves that---but the odds of a new GM coming to the conclusion that there aren't better people out there are rather high.  The new GM will know that the coaching decision will be the most important one that he will make.  And he will have to know that he will have the proper working relationship with the new coach.  Of the seven or eight names being thrown around for the GM position, I'd doubt if any of them have serious ties with Robiskie.

Robiskie was put, literally, in a no-win situation.  He probably has done as well as could be expected, although I would have thought he would take more chances in the Miami game.  By all indications, Randy Lerner coughed up some extra bucks to make the interim tag more acceptable, but what he should really do is insist that the new GM/coach keep Robiskie on, in some capacity, for some continuity purposes.  That is, if Terry would accept that---and I think he would.

On a totally different front, I see that Governor Robert Taft is having some fun with his wager of Ohio products against a basket of Oklahoma steaks based on the outcome of the Ohio State-Oklahoma State Alamo Bowl game.  That's interesting.  For a guy who is so adamant about casino gambling, he sure is enjoying the PR involved with this stunt.  Someone should tell the governor to get serious about casino gambling starting in 2005.  As we are being surrounded by casinos in other states, and thousands of cars daily go through Ohio to get there, there is NO compelling reason to keep casinos out of Cleveland. 

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11pm-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com



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