Down through the years, I have come to one conclusion about fans of the Cleveland Browns. There isn't a better fan base in the entire football world.
And there is very little room to challenge the notion that fan base is, by far, the most zealous and active in professional sports. It isn't even close.
The rabid manner in which the Browns fans follow their team is unmatched. They are like a stick of dynamite. All that's required is for someone to light the wick. The infighting can get ugly at times.
Disagree with them and you feel their wrath. Make a factual mistake and they pounce on it like a ravenous animal.
Bud Poliquin knows that. The Syracuse Post-Standard columnist made a factual error in a recent column on the Browns and was bombarded (his word) by the zealots seeking to set him straight.
To categorize some Browns fans as maniacal would not be a gross exaggeration. But know this: There are no more loyal supporters of a National Football League team than the one that resides in Cleveland.
Of course, what follows will be considered extremely prejudicial and overtly subjective by outsiders, but there are too many reasons to believe otherwise.
- What other fan base in sports – any sport – could bring a league to its knees? For the answer to that one, please contact Paul Tagliabue, National Football League Commissioner, retired.
- What other fan base can influence a critical front-office decision? For the answer to that one, please contact Randolph J. Lerner Esq., owner, Cleveland Browns. Does the name John Collins jog a memory or two?
- hat other fan base approaches each new season with the same enthusiasm year after year even though it's apparent there is little about which to get enthused? Check the club's record the last eight seasons.
- What other fan base takes an emotional beating and becomes stronger? It's amazing how the fans' resolve increases with every disappointment.
- What other fan base can boast hundreds of support groups around the globe? Not just the United States. Not just the Americas. The globe. All inhabitable continents. No other team can make that statement.
For further proof that there are no pro football fans like Browns fans, we did a little research in the most unscientific of ways. We checked the NFL Scout.com Web sites to see just how much interest is generated by the fans.
After all, these are independent sites, not the feel-good, party-line, tell-it-like-isn't sites of the 32 NFL teams to which fans flock. That's where fans who don't know any better get their pabulum-laced information.
Wanna get it real? Don't take those sites too seriously.
So one day last week, we visited the 32 Scout.com NFL sites. We dropped in at noon and again at 7 p.m. to see what kind of action was going on.
Best time of the year to do it. The excitement of the college draft has cooled. The dog days of June and the first half of July loom. What better time to gauge fan interest?
The results should not surprise those who frequent this site. In fact, they corroborate my original belief about Browns fans.
Of the sites visited, only two registered triple digits in number of users at noon. One, of course, was Cleveland with 251. Coming in a distant second was, surprisingly, the Panther Insider in Carolina with 107 while the SteelCity Insider (need I tell you where that is?) had 98.
At 7 p.m., the same two teams remained in triple figures with the Orange & Brown Report dropping off to 188, while Carolina picked up three at 110. In Pittsburgh, the number dropped to 76.
Bastions of supposed great fan bases pale in comparison to Cleveland. Seattle, for example, where Seahawks fans boast of being their club's 12th man, checked in with 23 users at noon and 16 at 7 p.m.
Green Bay had 36 and 32, respectively.
We hear so much about the devoted fans of the Washington Redskins. Warpath Insiders pulled in 64 fans at noon and fell to 37 at 7 p.m. Denver, that rabid bastion of Broncomania? Broncos Update pulled in a whopping 5 users at noon and shot up to 6 at 7 p.m.Five Scout.com sites (Arizona, Buffalo, Houston, New England and St. Louis) had only one user – me – during both visits and four others (Cincinnati, Miami, San Francisco and Tampa Bay) had just one visitor – again it was yours truly – at 7 p.m.
Nineteen sites could not get to double figures. Nine were empty. Attracted not a single soul.
No site generates as much traffic as Cleveland.
There will be those who argue that maybe many fans don't know about the Scout.com sites. The other side of that argument: We now know enough about the information highway that a lot of people are very much aware of such sites.
And no other Scout.com site visited came even close to the number of forums this site provides for its members. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, this site blows away all others on this network with its creature comforts for the fans.
Talk about getting more bang for your buck. Don't believe it? Check out the other 31 sites.
One can only imagine how crazy it'll get in here when – not if – the Browns ultimately reach the competitive stage, then the contending stage and finally the championship-challenging stage.
That'll be something to behold. Kinda scary what it'll be like.