The Cleveland Fan on Facebook

The Cleveland Fan on Twitter
Browns Browns Archive We Didn't Sign Up For Dis
Written by Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

76 Lou Groza BlvdIt’s hard to say what best sums up the 15 years of Cleveland Browns football we have been privelleged to receive since the NFL awarded the city with an expansion franchise to begin play in 1999.  Do you start with the fact that 80% of those seasons have hit double-digits in the loss column?  Do you talk about the draft busts, the cycle of head coaches, the routine changing of the guard at the top, or the complete lack of success in the division, let alone the post-season?  It’s difficult to not be fatigued with the whole thing.  I don’t know where the boiling point is, or was, for most of us, but it’s fair to say that we’re all tired of it.

I’m tired of the disrespect from the outside, deserved or not, with reasonable knowledge that it’s all based on some form of the truth.  I’m tired of the dissention in our own ranks; be it the fans, media, or the people actually on the payroll in Berea.  Most of all, I’m tired of the dysfunction that’s brought on the name-calling and the motivation to jump ship at the first opportunity.  We, specifically the fans, didn’t sign up for any of this.  Yet, we are the ones, the only ones, left to deal with the big picture.  The only thing, aside from the fans, that remains the same through all of the ineptitude is the mailing address, 76 Lou Groza Boulevard in Berea.

I don’t believe that Cleveland is cursed in any kind of metaphysical or supernatural sense; all of the problems can be supported by logic, but the amount of bad luck handed our way isn’t exactly balanced.  Offering our heart and souls to one entity, as many of us tend to do with the Browns, has set us up for heartbreak after heartbreak.  The fact that an incompetent controlled the entity in the past, in such a way that seems to influence the present and future so much, is bad luck, but it wasn’t all him.  Everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows, even before he did the unthinkable.  Bad luck has landed at our doorstep time-after-time.  In my lifetime, it was Sipe, Elway, and Byner, long before we had to concern ourselves with the malice of one Arthur Bertam Modell, but none of us need the history lesson.

The truth is, we’d kill to be put in position for that type of heartbreak again; we’d probably sacrifice something we love very much just to live another 30 minutes like the half of football Kelly Holcomb gave us 11 years ago, before Tommy Maddox decided to be a damn hero for someone other than Vince McMahon.  If…

You know what?  I don’t have any more “if” left in me; it either “is” or it “is not”.  What it is, what it has been, is disrespectful, but disrespectful to who?  Younger fans like myself, I was 8 when Elway’s pass flew just beyond the reach of “Big Daddy” Hairston and into the grasp of Mark Jackson, are allegedly only on board to honor our fathers and grandfathers.  Is it disrespectful to those generations before, or even to the very name of Paul Brown, when those without respect refer to our football team as “Clowns”?

It’s low-hanging fruit, sure, and we’d by lying to say that we bite our tongue before we utter the words Bungles, Ratbirds, or Pittspuke, in reference to the division rivals, but I’m fine with the double-standard.  Clowns, an innocent enough term, but it’s still one that makes my skin crawl.  I’m not as creeped out by this circus vocation as the common Coulrophobic, but they’re existence is based on jokes and I don’t want that type of association.  It bothers me, more than the comparison to turds, which we get with the “taking the Browns to the Super Bowl” euphemism and the back end of the unwritten men’s room etiquette that instructs us, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow”.

That clown crap mostly comes at us from Steelers fans…mostly.  And, what type of Steelers fan is most commonly acquainted with one or many Browns fans, enough to practice this form of verbal assault?  Why of course, the fan that either lives in Northeast Ohio, or in my case, the one that has never set foot in the state of Pennsylvania; you could throw little jabs at them about Bubby Brister, Stony Case, or even Neil O’Donnell, but you’d just be wasting your time with Johnny Come Lately, who is foreign to any Steelers team between Bradshaw and Roethlisberger.  You have to take all of the rhetoric from that demographic with the tiniest grain of salt.

And, I thought it smelled bad on the outside, but it gets worse when the call comes from inside the house.  You see, I run a small picks league with a small, but close group of friends, and there are only four rules.  The only rule that I’m not flexible about, the only one with an ounce of importance to me and my so-called friends, is the one that prohibits you from picking against the Browns under any circumstances.  After the Trent Richardson trade, an unnamed individual not only picked against them for three consecutive weeks, but referred to them as the Clowns.  I’d been doing the thing since 2007, and I’ve really enjoyed it, but seeing that despicable act every week took me out of my game.  I’m folding the thing up, and I didn’t bother to do the final tally for 2013; I’m leaning towards the side of doubt that I ever will.

The dissent started before that.  Former season-ticket holders have let go of something that mattered to them so much for decades, the die-hards have become more casual, and the youth just won’t engage in this mess of a football team.  With no hard feelings intended towards pseudo-Comedian Mike Polk, I find it to be a crying shame that more people relate to the symbolism of the “Factory of Sadness” than the Dawg Pound or the Kardiac Kids.  The Browns have become a punchline, and I struggle to find anyone ashamed of that.  We’d rather buy t-shirts and embrace how terrible our team is, right?  What the hell has become of us?

They, the people who actually control these matters, haven’t made it easy.  Nothing has been consistent since 1999, except for inconsistency itself and the recurring theme of dysfunction.  It used to be fictional, the type of thing that made my mother keep the television off of FOX in its infancy, to protect me from horrible dysfunctional TV families like The Simpsons and the Bundys.  However, it’s on my TV in my adult-life every Sunday, albeit only twice a year on FOX and 13 or 14 times with someone of Ian Eagle’s ilk on CBS, then anytime the circus comes to Berea when there’s nothing on the field to laugh at.  I can’t find a silver lining, I’ve run out of energy to defend it, and I refuse to use any variation of the word “if”.

They have become the lonely guy you’d feel sorry for, if he wasn’t such a despicable human being with zero redeeming qualities, and that’s something to think about.  Every variable has changed, different genres of coaching backgrounds, a roster that’s been turned over more than normal, new regimes, and even new ownership, but the results have been the same.  Now at crunchtime, when it’s time to call the guys driving the bus to the carpet, many of us demand answers, and we get the 3 Stooges.

I’m not talking about the two guys on stage and the implied inclusion of the absent general manager, but the people eating that garbage off the spoon.

I keep hearing about these “free passes” we’re giving this team, but you’ll have to forgive me for being naïve and admitting that I don’t get it.  What exactly is this free pass I keep hearing about?  Is it the settling for failure, a concept the Cleveland-born Steelers fan likes to preach?  Is it that, like only 30 other cities in the country, or the world for that matter, people want to attend 1-8 NFL games per year in their own backyard?  Are we supposed to buy into the America’s Team propaganda and root for the Dallas Cowboys, a fan-base that would also be “settling”, but for mediocrity in their case?  I don’t know the answers to what I should be doing, I really don’t.  All I know is that I control nothing, I just watch, so I’m in no position to offer a free pass.

Look, I’m sure this Dan DeRoos is a great guy, offering him the benefit of the doubt here, but I wouldn’t know who he was if he didn’t make an attention-grabbing statement about a goofy Nick-At-Nite trio, so why should I let him start this phenomenon?  I’m a little offended that something I love so much has been reduced to a bunch of Clowns run by Stooges that play in a Factory of Sadness.  I’m a lot offended that more folks aren’t up in arms over this; it’s ridiculous.

I understand that no one, except maybe Chris Palmer and now Jimmy Haslam, signed up for this mess.  I understand that only the fans have had to deal with all of the unfortunate events, past and present, that have plagued the Cleveland Browns.  I understand that we can’t just be pissed off about it all of the time either, and that we generally don’t have any more answers than the people at the helm.

I just wish we didn’t seem to enjoy it so much, because it is starting to look like we prefer this to real-live success.  I certainly didn’t sign up to be part of that.

The TCF Forums