Why Being A Browns Fan Is So Hard

I could nail you with a ton of stats or a ton of numbers to make my case.  One playoff appearance (a loss) since 1999.  No Super Bowl appearances or championships, ever.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.  No, I want to give you some purely non-numbers related reasons why being a Browns fan is the worst spot to be in as an NFL fan.

5.  It’s tough to defend Cleveland.

Not just as a sports franchise.  The Dolphins have been similarly futile over the past decade as an NFL franchise.  Constant changes at head coach and at key positions like quarterback.  Few playoff appearances.  No championships.  But fans in cities like Miami can shake it off a lot easier.  Partly because they have had and will continue to have viable teams in other sports.  And partly because at the end of the day, if we’re honest with ourselves, their cities have a lot more to brag about.

Cleveland is cold.  It’s dark.  It’s decaying.  The economy is a mess and the city is run down, rusting and old.  And it’s cold.  So very cold.  You don’t notice the cold quite as much as those of us who have left and come home to visit.  It’s seriously one of the worst climates I’ve ever encountered.  The wind off the lake is brutal in winter, and the summers are short and unsatisfying.  But more than even the weather, Cleveland has become a city that hopes and hopes, but very rarely sees a fulfillment of that hope.  So many “heroes” come up short, turn their backs on us, and walk away to greener pastures.  They move to better teams, better money and brighter futures elsewhere.  Cleveland is the bastard child that everyone wants to see get their shot one day, but never seems to have a real shot.  And when sports fans in other sports towns have a retort to insults or smack talk, Cleveland fans are left groping at straws.  The rock hall.  The “vibe” of the city’s historic districts.  Stuff that no one else really cares about.  It’s rough.

4.  Football actually MATTERS to us.

All cards on the table.  We, Cleveland Browns fans, actually care.  We love this dreadful team with their hideous colors and non existent logo. The wins, the losses, all of it actually make a lasting impact on our moods.  We feel the wins and losses more than the players, or even the staff whose careers are measured by their performance.  At the end of the day, even if we have a pretty good idea going in that our hopes for relevance are likely to come up very short, we still hurt when they fail.  We still have the same deep-down hopes and expectations that winning franchises have, except that we literally never have them met.

Non-Browns fans, do you have any idea what that’s like?  No, no you don’t.  You can’t.  You’ve never lived your entire life (I’m 28, for the record) waiting and hoping for a winner, believing that one is coming.  You’ve never spent 28 or 56 or 72 years watching the team you love represent the city you love so pathetically.  You can’t possible grasp how awful it is, how much it sucks, and how low it can take you.  Which brings me to the next point…

3.  No one understands our struggle.

No one.  Not one single outsider can ever empathize with us how we feel about our team or their lack of competence.  They will never get it.  They will never be able to walk in our shoes, to see things through our eyes.  They might be able to look at it and say, “Man, it must suck to have THAT be your team.  I’m glad it’s not my team,” but that is a worthless sentiment, because they’ve never lived it.  They’ve never had to watch, year after year, as their beloved team is broken apart, rebuilt, hyped up, only to fail miserably, be broken apart and rebuilt again with the same result.  They can’t ever know what that feels like, or the stress it adds to game day, the draft, and the off season.  Most teams view draft day as a great time, when they get brand new talent and potential.  Browns fans always know draft day is going to be a day when we draft a Brady Quinn or a Tim Couch or a Brandon Weeden.  Not the guy we wanted, because we know that the team will blow it on a guy who was doomed from the start.  But we keep hoping, because…

2.  We are loyal to a fault.

I’ve been asked literally hundreds, if not thousands of times…  Why?  Why are you still a fan of a team that is so consistently terrible.  Why do you keep rooting for a team that, at best, will be mediocre?  The answer is as simple as it is complex. My answer, invariably, is, “I’m loyal.” When pressed for more, I usually follow up with, “They’re my hometown team. I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for anyone else.” Which is so ridiculous if you think about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing on loyalty. Loyalty is an amazing character trait. But think about it honestly for a minute. Do you like the colors burnt orange and poop brown? Do you like them together? I certainly do not. Do you like that our team name is the an ugly color while other teams have cool pirate/animal/warrior names? I feel gypped.

I’m pretty sure the majority of Browns fans feel the same way I do. Our team name sucks, our colors suck, our jerseys suck. Our team is either losing or rebuilding. Yet, here we are, unwilling to cut them off. Unwilling to be disloyal to the team that bears the name of our city. So we suck it up, buy their ugly gear and watch them lose game after game.

Because of loyalty. No other group of people are this loyal.

1. You know, deep down, that it’s never going to get better.

Let’s be honest with one another. We all know the Browns are never going to be a dynastic type of franchise. They’ll never be what New England has been. They’ll never be a perennial contender. And the strange thing is that most of us are okay with that. I find myself wishing for 8-8 seasons. 8-8! God, how I wish we could just break even. Who thinks like that? Browns fans, that’s who. Because reality, after nearly 30 years, has finally sunken in. I still hear some people talk about the “traditions” of the Cleveland Browns. That’s idiotic. Tradition? Our tradition is futility. Our tradition is last place in our division. That’s what we’re USED to. It’s all we know.

So anyhow, I’m sure this year will be be our year…


3 thoughts on “Why Being A Browns Fan Is So Hard

  1. You’ve fallen, fellow brownsbro. Let me help you back up.

    Our name isn’t a color, and you should know that. it’s a proud link to our history. We loved football so much, that we didn’t want some pansy animal name, or an occupation that doesn’t even exist in it’s hometown anymore. We just wanted to call our team the coach’s name. “Here comes Paul Brown’s team.” “That team of Brown’s is really utilizing the forward pass.” It’s a throwback to our history and the history of football in general. It’s a callback to better times (Lord knows we need them).

    Our colors and our uniform are classic. They are also the only piece of honor we were able to salvage out of the heArtless One. Maybe being 28 is too young to remember those terrible, gut wrenching times. We fought the NFL and won far more than the Baltimore Colts, LA Rams, Houston Oilers fans did, and we forced a legal settlement that kept our history and our “burnt orange and poop brown” colors in Cleveland. Fly them proudly, it’s a big F-U to the NFL and the NFL owners. We’re only the second team that owes it’s existence to the legal action of fans(first being the owners of the packers).

    And I would also contend we are going to get better. The only consistent thing about the Browns franchise beyond our miserable record, has been the Lerners and inconsistency. Ideally, we’ve finally switched both of those factors. We brought in a more energetic, more impassioned owner who cares more about American football than the European style. And he’s brought in a FO and Coaching staff that we all should hope, are going to be here for a very long time. Bury the irrationally forged hatchet against Mike Lombardi. Banner never won the big dance in Philadelphia, but he came close. I have faith (which might simply be a symptom of your “loyalty to a fault” angle) that we’re going to become a much better team sooner rather than later.

    The patriots of the late 60’s early 70’s would laugh at your dynastic accolades. As would the patriots team of the late 80’s early 90’s. Sure, they’re on the upswing now, but they’ve had two terrific QBs in Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady. Give us some stability at that high of a level for that long at that position, and I guarantee the Browns would be more than a laughing stock. Factor in Stability at coaching and ownership, we would be right in the thick of things.

    But we’re irrational Browns fans. We want instant results because we’ve already suffered for so long. So when someone doesn’t deliver, we want them gone in 2.9 years, which only exacerbates the real problem… Our inconsistency. Now’s the time where we can change our fate. We don;t have to stay on this never ending downward spiral. If we jump off, show some grit, stick it out with this regime, we might see greener pastures. We know changing regimes on a consistent basis doesn’t work, let’s show some true loyalty that we hold so primal in our hearts. Our time to stand proud is near. We will show the world what true mettle looks like. They will learn to hate us, because we are truly everywhere.


    • Haha thanks for the hand!

      To the name, I was utilizing a little tongue in cheek sarcasm, which sometimes I don’t put well enough to come across properly without voice inflection. That said, yes, I do love the history of our football program. Many times, the storied history of our beloved Browns is all I can cling to.

      Tis truth, I was young when the move happened, in my early teens if memory serves. That said, I grew up in the Pound and was at every home game that final, painful year. Including the last game at Muni, both the final Browns game, and actually the final Indians game played there as well. A large portion of my childhood and formative years were spent in that stadium oddly. My knock on the uniform was more tongue in cheek sarcasm, at the time I wrote this a close family member decided on their own football fan-dom based almost entirely on the “colors” and “good looking uniform of another team, so I decided to jab at it in this article haha.

      I wrote this: http://dawgpoundnation.com/2013/12/16/5-reasons-why-next-year-should-be-better-for-the-browns/ a few days ago, trying to take a positive approach to the Browns most recent attempt at cutting the sails and turning in to the head wind that comes with attempts to revive a long broken NFL franchise. I have a great deal of confidence in Joe Banner, Ray Farmer, and the team Chud has built. Lombardi I have legitimate concerns about, but most of that is actually based on his post-Browns career (Oakland is where my head is). That said, he won big points with me for echoing my early opinion on Brandon Weeden being a disastrously bad pick, and generally he can find good talent when he has someone sensible (ie Joe Banner) holding him back from making reach picks. But, above almost everyone there now, I do believe in Chud. He’s got the brains and the aggression needed to push this thing past the tipping point, I believe.

      I hope, hope, hope you’re right. I wrote this after last season, but a lot of it still applies. I would be thrilled with a competitive team that could play .500. I scoffed at a lot of people who expected a speedy turnaround this season, but I had hoped that we would get better, not worse, down the stretch. My disappointment this year has been largely based on the promise they showed early, and the fact that they haven’t gotten better late. Quite the opposite, at this point they very much could end 4-12 and I wouldn’t be shocked.

      And man, I had no idea how spread out we were until I joined the Army some years back. There has been a decent population of Browns fans in virtually every place I’ve been. Browns fans travel well, not in the sense that we fly around and buy out other team’s stadiums, but we never forget our roots. I know I can’t anyhow, and it appears I’m never alone.

      God speed, and thank you for your comments, I enjoyed reading and responding to them very much! Merry Christmas to you and yours!


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