The Making of a Browns Fan


We all have them. Stories of the first game we watched. Stories of the first time we knew we were a Browns fan. Most of us became Browns fans because our fathers were. My story is similar, though I did take a different path. Looking back, there were 4 distinct moments that defined my love affair with the Orange and Brown.

  1. I was born in Willoughby, Ohio and moved to Maryland at the age of 5. My first memory of football was watching a Redskins-Cowboys game on our brand new Zenith color TV. I had watched plenty of western movies, I knew the Cowboys always won…so I became a Redskins fan. I loved rooting for the under-dog. My Dad scoffed at my decision as he was a Browns fan. Then came the night of January 17, 1988. We watched my Redskins beat the Vikings and head to the Super Bowl. We watched the AFC Championship game at a friends house. I remember my Dad being so angry, he was almost in tears when Byner fumbled. As we headed home we stopped at a gas station and I asked him to buy me a Redskins NFC Championship shirt. I saw the pain in his eyes as he said “It will be cheaper after the Broncos are done with them.” At that instant I became a Browns fan. I wanted to root for the team that almost brought my Dad to tears.

  1. I attended high school right outside of Annapolis, MD. The 1995 season was coming to an end. He who shall not be named, moved my team to Baltimore. This move was celebrated by all my friends that I went to school with. They thought I should have been happy too; afterall, I wouldn’t have to travel to Cleveland to watch my team play. I understood the feeling that my Dad had on that night back in ’88. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I quit football.

FANS

  1. In 1999, I watched Drew Carey bring back my Browns on a national stage against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 43-0. I can’t describe how excited I was during the pre-game show. I was somewhere between a kid on Christmas and JoJo the idiot circus boy with my pretty new pet. I watched the game in its entirety. By the end of the game you would have thought someone ran over my dog. Logic told me that we were an expansion team and that I should not get my hopes up. But I am a Browns fan…there is no room for logic.

  1. The last event happened this year the week before the AFC Championship game. I took my wife and kids to Five Guys for lunch. I was standing in line when the 18 year old kid commented on my Browns lanyard hanging from my pocket. “You like the Browns?” I could hear Bill Engvall start into his “Here’s your sign” routines. I turned to look at him with his gaudy Patriots jacket. He said “I’m a Patriots fan.” At that moment I didn’t know if I wanted to lay him out for being an arrogant little prick or swell up with pride because through the 4-12 and 5-11 groundhog’s days…I’ve been a Browns fan.

As you read through my list, I guarantee 99% of you watched the video of the Fumble. You hated every second of it, but you watched it. It’s what Browns fans do. When you looked at the photo of the fans at the last home game in 1995, I bet you felt your stomach start to turn. I am sure each of you have bumped into that little prick sporting the jersey of his latest crush. I would guess that 20% of you knocked him out and the other 80% wished that they would have. Without a doubt in my mind, I know each of you remember – with crystal like clarity – the moment you became a Browns fan.

Like all of you reading this post, I have died a little inside with each loss. The wins are temporal moments of happiness that give me just enough hope to make the next loss painful. Swearing I will never watch them again every Monday; sitting down and watching them every Sunday. I am a Browns fan.

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3 thoughts on “The Making of a Browns Fan

  1. Anyone who was alive in November, 1963 remembers exactly what they were doing and where they were when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. For me, my first indelible memory of epic tragedy came in 10th grade Biology class waiting to go to lunch. The principal came over the PA to announce that the Space Shuttle Challenger had just exploded shortly after take-off.

    One year later, I vividly remember another heartbreaking moment, and this was when I knew I was a Browns fan: The Drive. I live in Ohio and was fortunate enough to be invited to spend 3 weeks in Columbus the summer before as part of the All-Ohio State Fair Band. Then, the following January we were asked to meet in Columbus again as the band had been asked to participate in the inauguration of newly-elected Governor Dick Celeste. The Sunday before was essentially non-stop practice, but one of the assistant directors had brought a portable TV so he could surreptitiously watch the game. It didn’t take long for the other directors to realize that no one was paying attention to them, so they called rehearsal until the AFC championship was over and the Browns were headed to the Super Bowl. I remember the feeling of innocent optimism, thinking that seeing Cleveland in the Super Bowl would be awesome.

    And then it happened. When Mark Jackson caught the touchdown pass to tie the game with only seconds left, I knew. We all knew. It was over. Oh, sure, there was overtime, and anything was possible, but at that moment dozens of new Browns fans were forged in the fires of disappointment and failure. As Denver went on to win, we all trudged back to our seats, feeling as if each of us had suffered a kick to our nether-regions. We never wanted the Browns to win so badly as we did after the game was over.

    The following year The Fumble occurred. I was working at my shitty first job washing dishes and listening to the game on the radio. If The Drive had forged me into a Browns fan, this game was the quenching water I was dipped in to harden the form forever.

    Over the years it’s become easier to cheer for Cleveland because now you expect failure, no matter how good things might seem. I remember sitting at the B-Dubs in North Ridgeville watching Game 7 of the Indians against the Marlins. I was feeling nervous, but not overly optimistic. Like most everyone else there, I was prepared to party like the world was ending if the Tribe won, but we knew they wouldn’t. Sure enough, Mike Hargrove decided to send in Jose Mesa. He might as well have sent John Elway to the mound. By the time the Cavs made it to the NBA finals I wasn’t even paying attention. I didn’t have to. The die was cast.

    I want to see the Browns succeed. I want to be optimistic about all the changes that have taken place recently. I want to think that it’s finally our turn to have a magical season. I can picture in my mind the Browns in their white unis with the little silver Super Bowl patch on it. I can imagine Haslam on a podium holding up the Lombardi trophy saying, “This is for all the Browns fans who waited so long!”. I can dream of all of this, and that is precisely what will make the disappointment that is sure to come so crushing. Go Browns!

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  2. I was born in NYC, NY. At the age of 4, my father moved our family to his native home of Cleveland, Ohio. I have no memory of NYC and therefore have no attachment, affection or affinity for any of the NY Teams. My earliest memories of my life as a Browns fan are from the days of Brian Sipe, Dave Logan, Lyle Alzado, Ozzie Newsome and Greg and Mike Pruitt. The original Kardiac Kids!!! I had the Orange and Brown shirt with the big heart. This was the season where the Browns lost in sub-freezing cold at Muni stadium to the Oakland Raiders on their path to the Superbowl. I have never turned back. I became a Browns fan for life. Then in the fall of 1995 in Ft Benning, GA, I learned that my beloved Browns were stole in the dead of night to move to Baltimore. I will never understand how and an NFL owner with such a loyal fan base could ever do this to such a devoted football town. Our freeways signs were blazened with “Browns Town” As one sportscaster said, “If there were a colony on the moon, you’d find a Browns fan club.” Being a Browns fan (or any Cleveland sports team fan) is not for the thin skinned, nor the faint of heart. You have to be a perpetual optimist and maintain the patience of Job! Go Browns!!!

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  3. Back in 1962 we went over to my aunts house for dinner and all of the men were in the living room watching the Browns game and the women were in the kitchen complaining about football. I thought to myself that one day I was not going to be that nagging wife who complained about losing my husband to this game, so I sat there and watched the game and my uncle was explaining the game and the penalties to me and I fell in love with the game and the Browns. Needless to say that theory back fired on me cause my husband could care less about football. He is the football widow. He got me a cup for my Browns room that says We interrupt this marriage to bring you the football season. At age 12 I became a Browns Fan.

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