Can you feel it? Can you feel that long forgotten but sensuously familiar sensation? I haven't had this feeling for a very long time, yet it is as though it has never left me. I am experiencing that heartfelt conviction that the Browns are something special and that this year we could emerge as the Champions of the World. I am so excited about it I could just about tear someone's head off.
I haven't felt this way since Lindy Infante packed up and left for greener pastures. I haven't really been able to believe with complete abandon that we could win it all ever since. I knew that Shorty Muttenheimer was no offensive genius and we wouldn't win the Big One with the prevent defense. Bud Carson's regime never got my juices going like this and Bill Bellichick…please.
I can't put up a front with that ‘just happy to have a team again' BS we have been clinging to for the last three years either. It was all just a show for the rest of the world anyway. It sucked from day one to endure it. You know it. I know it.
No, for the first time in a very long time I believe. There ain't no freakin' gleam, men. It's a beacon and I'm buying into it lock stock and barrel. I'm wrapping myself up in the arms of this enthusiasm and I don't ever want to let go. I feel very, very good about this team. If I'm wrong then I absolutely do not want to be right.
We, as Cleveland Browns fans and Cleveland sports fans in general have become inured, even accustomed to the inevitable frustration of coming up just short of the prize. Red Right 88. The Drive, The fumble. Jose Mesa in the bottom of the 11th. Michael Jordan and The Shot. Take your pick. History has been cruel and our natural defense mechanisms have left us reserved in our hopes and hesitant in our willingness to stick our emotional necks out. We yearn for that elusive prize, but balk at the idea putting our hearts on our sleeves only to have them once again ripped to shreds. After being burned time and again, we have learned only too well the pain that the fire of unbridled passion can bring. Look up ‘gun shy' in your Funk & Wagnall's and there's a picture of Cleveland.
In fact I have never seen the words ‘cautiously optimistic' used more frequently than I have in relation to the Browns' prospects entering this preseason. I say the hell with caution! We have every reason to be optimistic, PERIOD. Attitude is a big part of being a winner, baby. I refuse to think like a loser or an also-ran. I will not take the high ground and claim moral victory over losing. I am not satisfied to be merely ‘competetive'. One of the coaches has a sign on his door this year that says something like, ‘If you want it bad enough you will find a way to win, if not you will find an excuse'. No excuses Bud. Not any more. Not ever again.
Let me go on record right now as saying this is the year we win it all. I'm laying it all out there. I'm not hedging my bets or cushioning the fall or measuring my statements or any of a dozen other euphemisms for being afraid to commit heart and soul to this team and its' chances. I am setting the bar on the top notch and I firmly believe this is an achievable goal. If my heart is broken in the end, so be it. I refuse to contemplate the possibility of anything less than a championship at this point.
I feel badly for the fan that has been so traumatized by past heartbreaks as to be unable to immerse himself fully in the belief that this is the year. I am taken aback at the thought of adopting a play-it-safe, Prozac type of mentality where you don't get too depressed, but you don't get too happy either. I say take a chance and dare to believe. As the saying goes, "Some men look at the way things are and say ‘Why?'. I look at the way things could be and say ‘Why not?'" Well this year I say ‘Why not?'.
We drafted the premier available running backing, Will Green. We have shored up our run defense with some proven top-flight young veterans in Smith, Holmes and Lang. We have some very bright prospects like Lewis Sanders and Michael Jameson coming back from injuries in the defensive backfield. Our offensive line is improved by free agency, the draft and our own home grown prospects beginning to mature. Our wide receivers look good. Damn good. Q and JaJuan appear to be hitting their stride and Andre Davis could well be the game breaker in the mix. And finally our Field General Tim Couch has really poured himself into the Xs and Os of this offense over the off-season. He's had a year to get next to this offense and by all accounts from Berea it is clicking for him. I don't think anyone's expectations of TC entering this season are higher than his own. I believe he is really going to come into his own this year and shut a lot of his critics up.
So, are you there with me? Are you ready to believe?
I have missed the joy of unrestrained enthusiasm over my love affair with the Browns horribly for what seems like an eternity. I'm bipolar manic-depressive about our Browns and I refuse to take my medication. I'll willingly endure the devastating lows just to get the unimaginable highs. It's been a pretty low three years around here.
I'm ready to get high.