Take a deep breath and close your eyes.
Forget all that you know about the Cleveland Browns. Erase all of those awful memories from 1999 to the present. Now, imagine a successful Browns franchise. A Browns team that doesn't just win a few games here and there, but the Super Bowl. An organization run by bold, daring minds with lady luck on their side.
Alright, time to wake up. You're not buying it, are you?
One man did, and wrote down his vision in a book entitled "The Dawg Pound Dynasty." And yes, it's magical.
The author's name is D.F. Pellegrino, a freelance writer who resides in New Mexico. He went to school in Michigan, but spent his summers working at Cedar Point in Sandusky, where he received his inspiration for the book. Surprisingly, Pellegrino is not a Browns fan. Rather, he's a Lions fan.
Pellegrino's familiarity with the Lions shapes the beginning of the book, which begins in 1999. Pellegrino picks former Lions head coach Wayne Fontes as team president, and Fontes in turn selects former University of Michigan head coach Gary Moeller to be the team's head coach.
The duo soon leads the Browns down a radically different course than the one the team followed in the early expansion years. The book -- written in a documentary style using imagined interviews, book excerpts, and broadcasts -- begins in this way:
"There are some teams you just have to hate. They represent everything that is wrong with sports. They are too cocky, too arrogant. They buy championships in free agency. And their fans ... their fans just rub you the wrong way. They win championship after championship and still are not satisfied. They are like a virus, destroying the entire league to feed their insatiable appetite for glory. You can't help but hate those teams, unless you are lucky enough to love them. Then sports become something different for you. An affirmation of everything that is right with the world. That no matter how bad a deck you were dealt in life, there is always a team that will prove the world wrong for you. That you will always be a winner as long as you remain faithful and true.
Some people love them. Most people hate them. They are the teams that are just too damn good. The New York Yankees. The Montreal Canadians. The Chicago Bulls when Michael Jordan was still playing. And the Cleveland Browns. Or as they are known to everyone outside of the State of Ohio, the F***ing Browns.
From the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "The Dawg Pound Dynasty""
(Passage and photo published with permission of D.F. Pellegrino)
Hooked yet? Personally, as soon as I read this introduction, I couldn't put the book down. I finished all 409 pages in a mere two days.
From the perspective of a lifelong Browns fan, this book is a masterpiece.
As the title suggests, the book documents a period of imagined Browns prosperity. To Browns fans who have lived through 16 seasons of misery since 1999, the tale seems far-fetched. Yes, the book does take the reader to many unexpected places. But a realistic "only in Cleveland" twist of fate often lurks around the corner. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will not give away any examples here. (Please refrain from doing this in the comments section, too.)
Pellegrino paints a masterful portrait of an NFL landscape shaped by the Browns. Starting in 1999 and ending in 2012, Pellegrino dedicates a chapter to each season and to each Browns' Super Bowl appearance. Pellegrino crafts the Browns roster each season, from the all-important quarterback position to the backup center spot. Real-life Cleveland heroes and villains make cameos in a detail-oriented approach to alternate history.
While Pellegrino is certainly not the first NFL fan to ask the question, "What if?", he might be the first to compose an entire book dedicated to an alternate NFL reality.
Pellegrino's work did not begin as a book, but as a timeline on a discussion board on AlternateHistory.com. He released the book in a piecemeal fashion on the site, chapter by chapter, beginning last May and concluding in October.
Thanks to Pellegrino's efforts, you can now purchase the book on Amazon -- just $2.99 for your Kindle, or $12.98 for a paperback copy. If you want to take a deeper look at the book, you can read the first few chapters here.
"The Dawg Pound Dynasty" is an awesome book for Browns fans, and it could even make for a great gift for Father's Day. Read it. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.
*Author's Note: To take a deeper look at the book, check out our Q&A with the author, D.F. Pellegrino.