Fellow Browns Fans,
It’s been a helluva year, hasn’t it? Two games left, including today, and the Cleveland faithful are already wondering which team they’re going to root for in the playoffs.
I’m 26 years old, but because of my obsession with the once proud Cleveland Browns franchise, I’ve studied the team’s history as far back as I can find. Sure we’ve seen NFL Championships, and we’ve watched Hall of Fame players run up-and-down the field in Orange and Brown. For me, I remember the two seasons prior to ‘the move’ the best. In ’94, we were a legit terror in the NFL, and were picked by Sports Illustrated to land in the Super Bowl the following season.
We all know how that ’95 season went for us Browns fans, and it just hasn’t been the same since. One thing that Browns fans, both, past and present have in common is heartbreak. For the old timers out there, there’s “The Drive”, and the likes of Bernie Kosar (in his prime), Eric Metcalf, Kevin Mack, Earnest Byner, and Webster Slaughter. For us “new fans”, we have the end of an era, and the start of a disappointment. Players like Derek Anderson, Kellen Winslow Jr., Braylon “Stonehands” Edwards, LeCharles ‘Bum’ Bentley, Tim Couch, and countless more players who have been huge disappointments.
Prior to the move, there was a competent front office in Cleveland. For all the hell that Art Modell receives for being the biggest villain in sports, at least he gave a damn about football. Randy Lerner, on the other hand, cares more about what his other professional football team is doing on the field.
Younger generations of Cleveland Browns fans have no idea what it’s like to watch a Browns game with excitement, and possibilities. Possibilities of playoffs, and AFC North Championships. We’ve never heard the Super Bowl talk surrounding the Browns and its made worse considering teams like the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, and New Orleans Saints – teams that were downright terrible in my younger days – have all made, and (nearly) won the ‘Big Show’.
The point is, no matter how old, or how young, Browns fans know heartbreak. Frustration kicks-in about halfway through the season, and the outrage typically leads to fans calling for a new head coach, a new quarterback, or, in more extreme cases, jumping the bandwagon altogether and rooting for another team.
Believe me; I feel everyone’s pain when it comes to the Browns.
With that being said, a lot has been made about the Indianapolis Colts “foolishly” winning a game against the Tennessee Titans, because it could potentially mess-up their draft position. I hope, and pray, that none of you are doing the same with the Browns.
Yes, there’s (potentially) better players at the top of the Draft board, but so what? Even if the Browns win-out, they’re looking at a Top 10-15 Draft pick. Are they likely to win-out? No. Still, consider this.
When you have a competent front office, for once, you have to have faith that they know what they’re doing, and that sooner – rather than later – we’ll be watching a competitive football team in Cleveland. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert (especially Heckert) are two of the more well respected minds in the NFL. Heckert has already overhauled the roster with useful talent, and it’s just his second year.
Beyond all that, all the “what about next year” talk, there’s two more games to be played in the 2011 NFL season. Those two games aren’t against the St. Louis Rams, or the Indianapolis Colts, but rather the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
One thing I thought all Browns fans, no matter how young or old, absolutely hated the Ravens and Steelers. They are two of our biggest rivals, even if they don’t believe so, and for nearly every single season since ’99, they’ve laughed at us. Ray Lewis and James Harrison didn’t look at the schedule at the start of the season and thought, “Wow, what a tough end to the year. The Browns? At the end of the season? Uh-oh.”
Hell no. When they seen the two Browns games crammed into the final month of the season, they were thinking about a break. A weekend off as they prepare for their Super Bowl run.
So I ask why, when you sit down to watch the Browns take on the Ravens today, would you watch with hope that they’ll lose? Watching the Browns play is rough, and it’s easy to get distracted, but when they play the Ravens and Steelers, all I can think about is how much I want the Browns to beat the tar out of these guys.
We’re fans of the Cleveland Browns. We’re a fan base that has had our hearts broken over and over, season after season, for nearly all our lives. I can’t imagine watching these last two games, and thinking about the draft in April. We’ve struggled for wins all season, and if (somehow) we can knock-off the Ravens and Steelers in the final two weeks, think of the momentum for next year.
In a town where wins are really hard to find on Sundays, I have a hard time believing that any of you will raise hell if the Browns embarrass the Ravens and Steelers to end the season.
Besides, I specifically asked Santa Claus for a two-game win-streak to end the season for the Browns.
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