As another season winds down for Cleveland Browns football with disparity and sadness, let’s take a look at one of the most loyal sports fan bases in all of professional sports. There must be some reason why these fans keep coming back for more each year, isn’t there?
Once on top of the food chain in the NFL, it’s no secret that the Cleveland Browns are the laughing-stock of the league nowadays. From NFL Network to ESPN to the radio home of the Browns 92.3 The Fan, you can hear “experts” bash and put down the Browns on a weekly basis. Sometimes for valid reasons, other times not so much. The new era Browns have won just 77 games since returning to the league in 1999 as an expansion team. In 14 seasons, the Browns have had 20 different starting quarterbacks and 40% of the 124 draft picks are still playing in the league in some capacity.
Let me tell you why these loyal and diehard fans wear brown-and-orange on their sleeves all year round. The answer is pride. What is the definition of pride – a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated. You see, these brown-and-orange bleeders do not care what others think, no matter what the outcome is, they will still be there the next day and the day after that. These fans grew up in the glory days and founded the “Dawg Pound”. They have lived all the heart breaking plays that national networks love to show to humiliate the city of Cleveland. But, the difference between these fans and ones of other teams are – when the dust settles and when things have turned into complete garbage, they’re right there next to their team and not abandoning ship.
When it comes to the heart-broken, but persistent fan base of this team established in 1946, there are many types. Which type are you?
The Knowledgeable Analyst
You know every players’ number on the team. Before the announcer can call out the name, you already know who made the tackle at first glance. Well aware of the teams’ misfortune and bad decisions, you throw on a Browns t-shirt when you come home from work without hesitation. You are realistic and do not think the team is going to win every game. But somehow, you truly believe that you will see a Browns Super Bowl before you die.
The “I told so” Arguer
These are the fans that I don’t get. While you may be realistic in your views, you constantly put your fellow Browns brothers/sisters down after a loss. Why? They are the one’s suffering with you. Would you shoot a fellow soldier that was right beside you on the battlefield? You claim you are “done” with the team, but like Mike Polk’s comedic video, you seem to be watching the very next week. You own some orange-and-brown clothing and maybe an elf hat.
The Disgusted Fan
You have just about given up on them. You believe that there are better things to do with your time. You are the one that goes car shopping on Sundays because the Browns game is not important to you and they’re going to lose any way.
The Ex-Season Ticket Holder
Once a Sunday ritual for you, you watch religiously every week from the comfort of your home because you believe that they should not get your money until they produce better results. You gaze at your flat screen on the wall and tip back whatever drink of your choice. You are most likely recording the game and your DVR has less than 50% memory left. Your wife/husband has also yelled at you repeatedly for yelling and throwing objects at the flat screen.
The Clueless Fan
You claim you like the Browns, yet you couldn’t name five players on the team. You bring up names from the past like Bernie Kosar and Jim Brown to show your knowledge. When the game is on, you are most likely not even watching it and talking to someone about something that has nothing to do with the game. Yet, when something great happens, you’re quick tweet out “Touchdown Browns!” You are completely clueless, but loyal.
The Annoying Drunkard
Watching the Browns to you is tailgating and getting completely wasted so functioning the next day is next to impossible. You can be a fighting drunk or a mellow drunk depending on the situation. You most likely have given up on the team. You have stood in a long Port-O-Potty line numerous times in the Muni Lot.
The Intelligent Fan
You believe in the team and try to find a silver lining in everything. You know what play to run at certain times in the game and know exactly how to read what defense is on the field. You are very similar to an analyst. You most likely played sports in high school or college.
The Respectable Old Timer
I would have loved to live in this era. You were there in 1964 and experienced the last NFL championship (it wasn’t always called the Super Bowl ignorant fans to the east of here). You remember the Browns as a dynasty. You had a connection to certain players on the team as they had with you. The personality of Otto Graham was something you thrived to be. You remember when football wasnt scattered with prima donna multi-millionaires and players played for the love of the game, then went to war.
You absolutely can’t wait for the NFL Draft. You want the season to be over to get closer to the draft. You believe that the draft is “our” Super Bowl and your okay with losing near the end to justify draft position. You often throw draft parties at your house. You have a list of candidates you want the Browns to take and scratch your head when they select someone you have never heard of. You talk constantly about how the Browns should have taken one of the USC linebackers (Clay Matthews maybe, not Kaluka Maiava) instead of Brian Robiskie, David Veikune, or Mohammed Massaqoui in 2009.
Now I know that there are many more that you may be able to think of, but we all know one of these fans in our lives. And, as long as we don’t attack each other, it’s ok to be Browns fan. The Browns Backers Worldwide is one of the largest fan bases in the world. Why not be proud and stand by your fellow fans, instead of ridiculing them? Why don’t you focus all of your negative energy on that disgusting team that wear jail-bird uniforms in yellow (not gold) and black.
Whether you’re one of these, a combination of these, or something completely different, you’re a Browns fan and you have one of the thickest skins one could possibly have. There is light at the end of the tunnel Browns fans, it just wasn’t meant for 2013. I’ve preached it before and I’ll preach it again, this was never a one year turnaround. And, despite what they say, the front office knew this all along too.
While there is much to discuss about the Browns, their failures, poor play, effort at times, poor decision-making, multiple management changes, and any other negatives you can think of, once again you’re a proud blue-collar Browns fan that wears your heart on your sleeve! If you don’t believe that and have given up all hope, no one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to be a Browns fan – leave. I promise you’ll be replaced as quick as your decision to vacate.
Perhaps the quote that should sum it up is from long time Browns diehard, Mike Hettinger of Columbus, OH, ” A true Browns fan doesn’t stop caring, or jump ship. It’s not just a switch you can flip. When you have love for the Browns deep in your heart, it’s for life, no matter how much they disappoint you”. (I appreciate everyone’s input of Facebook that left their comments)
It may sound like a broken record and it may sound like the orange kool-aid is pouring out of your smart phone while reading this article, but I can assure that this team has not regressed and will be better in 2014.
However, if by chance the exact same thing happens and they end up with another double-digit loss next season, then guess what? That’s right, you’re still a Browns fan and you always will be until the day you die!
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. Have a question or comment for the “ASK Ryan” column on Fridays? Email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org