As the Super Bowl approaches tomorrow, I can’t help but think of the implications of this weekend. I don’t mean the outcome of the game or anything of historical significance. No, quite simply, tomorrow is both the best and worst day for every football fan. The best, because this game is what we’ve been building up to for weeks, if not all season. This game is so much fun to watch, to enjoy. The food, the drinks, the atmosphere this one event creates. It’s great. It’s immensely enjoyable, as anyone who’s been apart of it can tell you.
There is however, a big of a grey cloud that hangs over this glorious occasion. That is, of course, knowing that when that final whistle blows, the NFL season is officially done, and we get no more real football until the end of summer. That’s rough. Almost half a year to sit and wonder if your team is going to be able to improve (unless you happen to be a fan of the team that won the Super Bowl, in which case you get to celebrate a bit), or if you’re a Browns fan, you get to start the long process of talking yourself in to hoping for next season.
The NFL offseason is an interesting thing. Football is our nations biggest sport, so the good news is that even though the season ends, football has a way of sticking around throughout the year. Shortly after the Super Bowl, we get to the draft and free agency. Draft coverage and speculation is intense and ever present, and the draft itself is a really fun even to watch play out (as long as your team doesn’t obviously blow it by drafting a clearly bad option, *cough* Weeden *cough*). Things die out a bit over the summer, but in August we get in to camps and finally those awful preseason games. But, even if preseason football is both awful and generally gives a terribly deceptive peek at teams actual playing ability, it does have fun story lines (QB competitions every season if you’re a Browns fan). Also, you know that in a few short weeks, the regular season will return and give Sundays meaning again. Oh, I mean, church is cool on Sundays too.
Anyhow, fear not Browns fans. Enjoy this game. Send wave after wave of negative thoughts and woeful energy at the hated Ravens. Hope for Ray Lewis to grow an 8 point rack at halftime, Joe Flaccid to throw 9 picks and no TDs, and Ray Rice to stub his big toe (I really hate when that happens). Because if the Ravens lose this game, they’ll have to stew in that disappointment all offseason. Couple that with us keeping fArt Modell out of the Hall of Fame again, and it’s not a bad end to the season for Browns fans.
And, next season is only a few months away…
First a little back story – I grew up in Elyria Ohio, raised a Cleveland sports fan since I was young. I was taught all of the important information, such as the ‘bark,’ which sounds more like “Roof,” and the fact that Art Modell is a punk ass bitch. I was taught all of the important Browns players in history – from Otto Gram and Jim Brown to Ernest Byner and Bernie Kosar. And most importantly, I learned the hatred for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve lived in Florida since 2007 and let me tell you, being a Browns fan so far from home is a lot different, and so I wanted to write something enlightening all of you natives to some of our out-of-staters’ struggles.
Sunday afternoons, hopefully, should include family and friends around a TV somewhere watching your favorite team. Everyone would be talking among themselves about a play, or last week’s game, or what we need to do, and most commonly “maybe next year.” But away from the Cleveland area, it’s not so easy. They don’t play games on TV unless you get DirectTV, which, for me at least, is not affordable. Or you go can somewhere with Sunday Ticket and then you have to ask them to find a TV open for the Browns game. This usually ends up being a small TV in the back with no sound because the large group of either Dolphins, Jaguars, or Buccaneer fans have dibs. This was one of the first problems that I encountered the first few years living in Florida. But the best part about Browns fans is that they’re so loyal to their team and other fans that they created the Browns Backers. After more research, I found where the local Browns Backers group meets to watch games, which happens to be at a Hooters in Daytona Beach, almost right across the street from the speedway. They have a full room on Sundays with posters and Browns signs and discounts, so it feels like home, even down to the old worn down jerseys of players that don’t even play for Cleveland anymore. There are face painted bulldogs and even a guy with a four foot long dog bone. This has been the most amazing thing to happen to me as a Browns fan since I moved here. The only problem is that if you’re not here before kickoff, good luck finding a seat inside in the Dawg Pound room.
I can’t speak for other states, but in the one I live in there are so many different football fans. Florida has three different teams,, plus all the transplants from other states. All of us have different teams, but we’re all fans of football. When I tell people that I’m a Browns fan, they react in one of two ways. Either, “Oh that’s cool, I respect that,” or, from the not-so-into-football fan, “Oh they suck. Why are you a Browns fan?!” Wait, what? Why am I a fan of my home team where I was raised? I shouldn’t be because they’re not “winners” or the popular team? Why didn’t I just switch my love to another team just because I moved? I’ve had to school a few people on loyalty a few times already. I swear, whatever team is currently winning is the one that I see the most shirts and jerseys for. Right now, Ravens and 49ers stuff is out like crazy. But the worst part is the extremely large Shittsburgh Squealers following down here, and I’m really not exaggerating. There is a pizza place called ‘Steel City Pizza’ with the logo on both the building and also the towering street sign. It’s disgusting. There is also a store titled ‘Steelers Store,’ which only sells Steelers memorabilia and merchandise. I’ll dive deeper into the Floridian Pittsburgh fan in the next article that I write, but for now we’ll just keep it at “It’s disgusting.”
Anyway, for the conclusion of this, I’ve found over the years that being a Cleveland sports fan and loyal to your team is respected among the true football fan community, and there is a true following throughout the United States. If you should ever find yourself away from home for those awesome football Sundays, there is always a spot somewhere, if you can find it and drive there, to watch your beloved Browns play. Because even though you’re out of state, they will never be out of mind.