Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cleveland and the Browns
The Cleveland Browns haven't won a division title since when I was nine years old. Unless the Browns shock the world and win the AFC North in 2009, I will pass my 30th birthday without having seen another.

A friend asked me the other day how the Browns will continue to attract fans, having been bad for so long.

"Who would choose to be a Browns fan?" he asked.

It's a fair question. But when I walk around the Cleveland area now, I see more kids with Browns shirts and hats on than any other team combined. Most of these kids weren't even alive when the "old" Browns existed. There only sample of the Browns has been one of a predominantly losing franchise.

So why do people still love the Browns?

I can't speak for everyone, but for me, it never was a choice. I was born into it. My father watched Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly play. Later, when my mother was pregnant with me in 1979, he would go up on the roof and turn the TV antenna towards Toledo so he could watch blacked out Browns games.

It scared my mother, but it was simply forshadowing. Less than a decade later, I'd pace around our wood floor and scream at the TV.

My father is a Browns fan. My grandmother was a Browns fan. All my parents' friends are Browns fans. It was just assumed all of us kids would be Browns fans.

I never chose the Browns. I just knew they were my team. Yes, it helped that Cleveland was good from 1985-1989, flirting with the a Super Bowl appearance each year. But my friends and I stuck with them.

There was the 3-13 1990 season. The Bernie Kosar release in 1993. The move.

Now a new generation is growing up with the Brown and Orange. They weren't around for Jim Brown, Brian Sipe, Ozzie Newsome and Eric Turner. They have seen a battered expansion team for more than a decade.

But they resist the temptation to cheer for Pittsburgh, Dallas or New England. Not all, of course, but most.

There is no other choice for them, because there is no choice. Cleveland and most of Ohio is full of families that have passed down a love for the Browns from generation to generation.

I worry about the future of the Browns. But I never lose faith in Browns fans, who keep coming despite bad football and a worse (maybe) economy.

Maybe it's that misery loves company. Or maybe it's just family. No matter how strained things get, the door (which I guess has CLEVELAND on it) can never be shut.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home