I understand the frustration that comes along with being a Browns fan. Just take a look at my twitter feed and you can tell that I get upset too. But I have a distinct advantage of being removed from the city which allows me to analyze the situation from afar. Usually after a few hours, or in some cases a few days, there's no longer any emotion or attachment.
It's great. I recommend this (or something similar) for all Browns fans.
Still, the patience required during our wait for a winner has been excruciating. The ridicule I get from other fans; the laughs and the snickering that follows the question: "you're a Browns fan?". It's ridiculous and the play on the field, especially vs. our own division, has been pathetic. It's literally painful to think about how long we've had to wait for a winner in Cleveland. Not just a championship, but for a winning team with any glimmer of hope.
And it's completely unacceptable.
But for various reasons, each of us is still here. We're still fans. We wear our emotions and our past like suits of armor. Each piece, each season, each disappointment, each glimmer, is a piece of the story, of our story, and each piece has added to our strength and resolve as Browns' fans and true Clevelanders.
Now if you had no idea what football was nor any idea about the Browns, and I was somehow able to condense all our history from the last 60 years into a video, or movie, or something that would accurately portray the facts in a way that you could comprehend, connect with and understand. Without a doubt, you walk away and think that every Browns fan is completely insane or really stupid. Whether you felt us stupid or insane because we each have stuck by and continued to invest in a loser or because we always expect different results year after year after year, you, as an outsider would be right.
From the outside looking in, it's black or white.
I, however, honestly think we're both because we are fans. We're all dumb and we're all smart, and sometimes we're simultaneously both.
We're dumb to keep showing up to the same place, expecting a Fillet Mignon, but paying for a cold, swirly scoop of Crapolitan. That's right, Crapolitan, but instead of chocolate, it a nice cold scoop of only the finest Browns in town.
We're dumb because we expect that every season, every year, is going to be "the year" it all changes. Naturally, we expect better results each year because we're tired of losing and because we don't like thinking about continuing to suck, or people that ask us to accept continuing to suck. Saying we don't like that is an understatement. In fact, we hate it. But we're dumb to keep pulling up our chairs for more of what's being served.
Crapolitan Cones. Come and get it!
But we're also smart because we know that probability eventually has to swing in our favor. And we've been waiting this long, sooo.... so as emotionally entrenched fans adorned with our armor from the past, we believe that when "The Super Bowl" does come to Cleveland, the vindication and gratification of sticking with our team and our city will make that winning moment that much more transcendent and that much more unique to us, and alas, it will all have been worth it.
While all this is true, let's get back to reality.
We just got are ass handed to us two weeks in a row and I'm about to tell you why we're all dumb.
I'll admit that while it was only one measly paragraph, it was fun writing about the joy and vindication of winning a Super Bowl. But again, back here in the real world, our team and our fan-base just got absolutely smacked around by the Pittsburgh Steelers in our own house, thus extending the Browns record vs. Steelers (since 2000) to 4 - 27. Take a minute and let that sink in. That's Browns record vs a team in our division that we consider our rivals. That's 15% over nearly 14 seasons.
And after the last two weekends we still look like the pathetic, sad little brother in the corner sucking his thumb and crying while holding a limp, shredded and unstuffed-animal in our hand. Our discarded, snot ridden, muddy, Linus blankie lays next to us on the floor where the stuffed animals' cotton-like innards stacked high, meanwhile dad is wondering what the hell is wrong with his son as mother consoles and dries our tears while we watch our older brother run up the stairs with ice cream, our stuffed animals' head, and all the Nintendo games we wanted to play, laughing.
You get the idea.
That's been our image and role for decades. Unfortunately the last two weekends didn't help or change that.
So if we can agree that we're all dumb because we constantly come back for more Crapolitan, then we can all agree that we don't have to be dumb in other ways. We just need to stop creating the wrong expectations, regardless of how we feel about these expectations or how badly we want the team to win.
If you knew not to create grandiose Cardiac Kid sized expectations for the team this season because of the stark fact that this has always been and still is a building season, then please chalk one up in the smart column! You deserve it. And while you're probably just as mad as I am that we've sucked, at least you expected it. For the record, I had us ( at the very best ) at 8 - 8 this year with more of a 6-10 expectation.
If you realized that you have to start with the foundation when building a house before you add the sick lighting system, solar panels, insulated windows, pool and poolhouse, then chalk another one up in the smart column my friend. Many will argue that other teams have turned it around in one year. True. I can't be certain, but I'm willing to bet many if not most of those teams had a capable QB in place. We certainly don't. Maybe we did in Hoyer and maybe that's why some expectations peeked, but we don't now.
If you accepted the fact that this staff had very little knowledge about the players on the roster, then there's another point for all your smarties. In regards to the roster, we always knew this was an evaluation year. If you can manage to rake through the disappointment and grab the silver lining that this season will help the new staff identify which players want to be here; who they want to stay here; and who they can build around moving forward, then give yourself an extra mark in the smart column. Knowing what pieces go in next and which ones to add first is just as important as what the foundation should be.
If you paid attention, you'd know that we were all told this was going to be a rebuilding year from the start. New owner. News coaches and systems. New players. New offices. New stadium plans. New uniforms. Mellow draft while stocking up for next year. Some of us just got hooked into believing this season should be about new expectations on the field when it really wasn't time for that yet.
The straight up facts are that this organization is headed in a completely new direction with new leadership and ownership.On the field, the defense is really good and should continue to improve with a another offseason and more new additions via free agency and the draft. The offense is another story. We are a QB, WR, RB, TE2 and 2 or 3 OL away from being top 10 in the NFL. But until we get the QB, our expectations need to be aligned accordingly. And even when we do take a QB like I anticipate in next years draft, it takes players time to develop.Look at RG3, not many would have expected him to regress in his sophomore season, but he has. It works both ways.
Dumb things I heard this week:
"Buster Skrine should have been dumped long ago just so our players can run right passed him when we play him"
"Buster Skrine is better than Joe Haden"
"Joe Haden is the most over rated player on the Browns"
"Just let TJ Ward walk, he doesn’t know his place and not to speak up, plus this has been his only good year. If he was so good, why didn’t he play like this last year?"
Be smart Browns fans. Be crazy. But don't be dumb.
You want good players. But when you have them you get mad at those good players, who are playing exceptionally well, when it’s not solely their fault we’re losing? Please stop this. Haden, Ward and Skrine are not the reason we're losing games. How about blaming turnovers, lack of pass rush and no offense instead?
You want players with attitude who want to win. But you don’t want them to speak up or show attitude or raise the bar for the team? Ward has earned the right to talk and to be a leader. His comments are 100% accurate, we're all tired of losing and being out of games in the 4th quarter and as it stands, with out offense, we're not ready for the playoffs. But he's not the problem, he's been a an absolute stud.
You expect the team to win, but most will also acknowledge that we don’t have a QB, RB, WR2 or WR3, TE2 nor an athletic and skilled enough OL to do so? This is the brutal fact we all know too well, we haven't had a QB in decades. You need one to win, period. Weeden isn't the answer, nor is Campbell. And you can't expect the team to have addressed all the holes in one off-season.
You want us to draft guys that work out and blossom into Pro Bowlers but you expect everyone to be a star while not allowing them time to develop? If the Browns followed some of the fan-bases logic, Skrine would be on another team and playing his way into the best slot cornerback in the NFL there instead of here.
I get you're mad and tired and sick of it. So am I. But that won't change reality.
Adjust your expectations.
Give the Browns your patience, or your money, but not both. Do so knowing that this team is close to being a winner, but the fact remains that they are building their foundation for the future. This should have been the expectation all along for the 2013 season. It's OK to be upset with the results, but take it in context. The organization is determining how it will build the house with the pieces it already has. Players still have to prove they want to be here. Each player in that locker room has an opportunity to help turn around the losing mentality that has existed in Cleveland for so long simply by choosing not to give up and believing in the plan.
Everyone knows construction starts again this winter. Not just on the stadium, but on the roster. Next year's expectation won't be building, it will be winning and for everyone in Berea, the rest of this season is a test to see who has earned the right to be a part of that.