For Carlos “Fox” Lopez and his wife, the Cleveland Browns are way of life. Outside of his East Los Angeles home, Browns signs and memorabilia are plastered showing his love for the orange helmets. Lopez, who is President/CEO of his worldwide known t-shirt company East Los Browns Fanz, traveled 2,300 miles for last week’s home opener against the Miami Dolphins. This is one man’s journey across the country and into the awaiting open arms of Browns diehards.
You know your well recognized when it’s six in the morning at the Cleveland Municipal Parking Lot and someone screams from thirty yards away, “Hey, aren’t you East Los!” That is exactly what happened for Fox and his wife. While I had the pleasure of tailgating and going to the game with them, it was quick to see that my friend Luis and I were slowly becoming apart of an entourage. Every five minutes, someone approached Fox to take a picture and tell him how great his shirts were. Luis and I could have charged five dollars a photo and made a killing. So, why is Fox so passionate about the Browns?
“The first game I watched and fell in love with the fact there was no logo on the helmet. And it’s been non stop since then.” Lopez told me.
The lime light didn’t end in the muni-lot either. While making the long walk towards the stadium past the iconic buildings that shape the city of Cleveland, numerous people stopped Fox to pay tribute to his work. More pictures were taken and more memories were made. Amongst a sea of fans walking, it was interesting to pick out the fans that were actually wearing one of Fox’s shirt designs. It was also easy to tell the cheap knockoffs that other companies have stolen. How does it make him feel that these fans have taken a liking to his “outside-the-box” designs?
“It is a great feeling seeing thousands of people reppin’ my shirts. It is such an honor to have such an impact being so far away.” said Lopez. Mix in the fact that the Browns are one the most storied franchises in football history and it’s not hard to see that Fox genuinely loves his team.
When we arrived at the stadium, more people recognized the social media frenzy famous Fox and we eventually made it to our seats – first row right on top of the tunnel where the Browns come out. The goosebump feeling was in full effect as the Browns flew out of the tunnel. The fame and fortune didn’t end there. One of my favorite moments is when one East Los supporter actually brought the beer guy and said, “Get this man whatever he wants.” It is moments like these that make it all worthwhile for Fox.
But, perhaps the biggest moment of the day came in the fourth quarter when Miami had already put the game out of reach. Like a good friend, I grabbed the stadium camera guy who happened to be just one row away from us. Fox had one thing and one thing only on his mind – get the large Cleveland Browns tattoo that goes across his whole back on the jumbo tron. With 4:58 left in the game, the camera man pointed the lens at Fox’s back and there across the screen was Fox’s pride and joy tattoo for all to see. What was left of the Browns faithful erupted as the recognized image flashed across the 27-ft high screen. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for Fox and his wife LaLa.
In the end, the Browns would fall short for the ninth straight home opener, but good times would be had. It’s fans like Fox that give this city hope and the burning desire to believe. And, if you ask Fox, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net.
Interested in Fox’s T-Shirts? http://www.elabrownsfanz.com