The title is an existential question. Some say they are born a Baptist or some other religious affiliation, but I was born a fan of the Cleveland Browns. A third generation fan. My grandpa was rooting for our team from their inception. He passed the love for the Browns to his son (my dad), which passed it on to me. I am not a geneticist, but I am sure my DNA strands are orange and brown.
My fondest memories are sitting on daddy's lap watching the Browns. It is a bond that can not break or loosen. Grandpa passed when I was five years old, and daddy just a year after. In those six years, they taught me so much and placed a burning passion for the Cleveland Browns in my heart. No matter how bad the Browns are, they are still in some ways my first love. To honor them is to honor the memory of grandpa and daddy. The sights and sounds of the beginning of football season take me back in time. Back to those days of father and son bonding while watching the game. No matter where I am sitting, it is as I am sitting on his lap once more. I can hear his voice say, "Now watch and see, son, the Browns will win the game".
After daddy passed, Mama and I moved to New Boston, Ohio. Bungle territory. The High School athletic teams are even called the (Bengal) Tigers. Black and orange everywhere you look. But thank God it is not black and gold! Yes, that hatred for the Pittsburgh Squealers is encoded in my DNA as well.
The Browns have not been good since coming back to Cleveland, and it is hard to pass on that same love for the Browns to each new generation. This fourth and fifth generation of fans does not have memories of their grandfathers or of a winning football team. They love because we are a Browns' family. They know honoring this pitiful excuse of a team is to honor the family.
It is sad that I could not whisper in their ear, "Now watch and see– the Browns will win!" No. They mostly have seen me yelling and screaming and watching my heart being crushed. It is not just about winning. There is the bonding of watching the game, but those memories are intertwined with watching losing football. They do not know the excitement of seeing the Browns in the playoffs, nor the simple expectation the Browns can win any game. It is hard to explain to the young why they should cheer for a team year after year that gives them nothing to cheer for.
Until the day when the Browns return to winning football again, we hold to memories and stories of a once great team. Stories of the Kardiac Kids, Jim Brown, Turkey Jones knocking out Terry Bradshaw, and many others seem more like Fairy Tales to their young ears. Thanks to YouTube I can prove these are not just stories of a crazy old man. But with each new generation, it gets harder to convince them to stay loyal to the team.
They got to experience the Cavs breaking the curse, and all the excitement that came with it. I was able to say to them, "If you think this Parade of Champions is impressive – wait until you see what happens when the Browns are World Champions".
I do not know when it will happen, but it will. While we wait, we will continue to be faithful and loyal. Is that not one of the things Dawgs are known for? Their unwavering loyalty? Loyal to death? Every game day you can find me somewhere rooting as the game starts, then most likely screaming and moaning by its end. But if at a game you see me looking up past the scoreboard, it is because I am looking up into heaven knowing daddy is watching the game. Because if you cannot watch the Browns in heaven then it would be hell or Pittsburgh (they are the same place). Go Browns!