Saturday, November 24, 2007

The mystery of a Cleveland Browns season
When the Browns are winning, all of Cleveland is hopeful.

The Browns are not so much a football team, as they are a reference for events in life. In my profession, it's an interesting balance to strike: Drawing a paycheck because of events on the field while knowing sports are overemphasized.

But with the Browns, I'll make an exception. When Browns win all of Northern Ohio (and people scattered all over the world) are happy for six days.

Back in 1995, my father and I were talking on a road trip. It was December, just a week before Christmas. The Indians had just come off a remarkable World Series run, an unforgettable summer that will likely inspire books and poems for years to come.

But two days after our conversation, the Browns were to play their last home game of the 1995 season. We may have suspected, but we didn't know that the Browns were about to play their last home game for three years.

When my dad talked about the Cardiac Kids of 1980, he talked about the way the city responded. There was no question, he said. Everyone knew the Browns were winning the Super Bowl. It was meant to be.

Of course, it didn't happen then, and it hasn't happened since. The Super Bowl remains a dream, the one final a Cleveland team hasn't played in (unless you count the NHL, which I don't).

But the point is, there is something about the Browns when they win. It's why the city goes bonkers at the slightest chance of hope.

The Browns this year have supplied the city, and the fans, with that hope. We know the Browns aren't anywhere close to the best team in the AFC, or anywhere close to being a Super Bowl contender.

But for the first time, we feel like the team is on the right track. For the first time since 2002 (and probably before then) Sundays are fun. The Browns may win, they may lose, but they won't be boring.

I tend to think the Browns don't have much of a playoff shot, because of their shoddy defense. I know I picked them to win today against Houston, but this game frightens me, because Houston is improved, and this is a game Cleveland has a history of not showing up for.

Regardless, the Browns are 6-4. It's been a season of hope.

That's what we want.



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