I have three friends visiting from Indiana this weekend to attend the Browns-Bengals matchup Sunday. Two of them happen to be Bengals fans, and I am beginning to question my decision to invite them as I preview the upcoming game. They are sitting pretty at 9-2, while we sit at 2-9. Sh*t talking will undoubtedly take place, coldly directed at my Cleveland friend and I.
Those who know me are well aware that I always have an opinion, especially on my Cleveland Browns. When asked about this upcoming weekend, though, I just shrug my shoulders. I will attend and faithfully cheer on my pitiful, excuse of a team. Head Coach Mike Pettine has proved his stubbornness regarding the quarterback position, opting to start Josh McCown until he was literally physically unable to take the field.
I am going to pretend the ending to Monday Night Football did not happen. I just can’t replay it in my head anymore, or I may have an aneurism (I was at the game, ask those sitting near me how I felt about it). Austin Davis was named the team’s starter for Sunday. A decision I knew was coming, due to Pettine’s previously mentioned stubborn nature regarding Johnny Manziel. The questions about the quarterback position have overshadowed oh so many shortcomings by the front office and coaching staff. Quite frankly, I do not want to discuss the quarterback position.
So what is there for me to get excited about Sunday? I can’t give you an answer. I could write a lengthy piece comparing each position group for the competing teams, and give my opinion on who has the edge. But what’s the point? The Bengals are better than us at every facet of the game, except maybe tight end if Tyler Eifert is unable to suit up due to injury (Thank you Gary Barnidge).
This feeling is just eerily similar. It seems every year the excitement wears off 11 to 12 games in. The tickets get cheaper, alcohol consumption spikes, and more fights take place in the stands (I witnessed a beauty of a brawl Monday Night). As a fan base, we are often broken this time of year. I know all of my rambling seems parallel to whining, that’s because it is.
Browns fans are discussing our mess of a team, and what the next move will be for the franchise. Will owner Jimmy Haslam fire General Manager Ray Farmer? Will Haslam fire Pettine? Both? Who will we take in the draft? For my friends, the Bengals fans, they have no such concerns.
In discussing the upcoming weekend with them, their only concern is which jersey they are going to wear. AJ Green? Jeremy Hill? Andy Dalton? I do not know how they deal with such rabid stress. My only opportunity for a comeback is bashing Andy Dalton’s playoff performances, and making fun of one of the two visiting friends’ height. Pathetic.
I am thirsty. Thirsty for a year where the discussion at the end of the season does not involve who we will select with a top five draft pick. The NFL Draft is becoming the Browns fan’s Super Bowl, a Super Bowl we always lose (See our first round picks). We are crippled fans at the moment, but that aforementioned blind optimism will once again consume us during the upcoming offseason. Moves will be made in free agency, questions regarding coaching and front office personnel will be answered, a top draft pick will arrive and Josh Gordon will be returning from a yearlong suspension. See what I mean?
The mind is extremely powerful. In the 20 seconds it took me to write that last paragraph, I felt a shred of optimism come over me. The resiliency of a Browns supporter is second to none when compared to any other professional sports team’s fan base. Currently, we are wounded, broken and beat down.
Amazingly, we will rise and fill FirstEnergy Stadium for the rest of this, and the following season. Why you may ask? Because it is what a Browns fan does.
Sports Chat Co-Founder