First of all, I should mention that I'm not from Cleveland. In fact, I've only been in Cleveland once in my life, and that was (right) to see a Browns game in their old stadium (which they lost to the Chargers, naturally). Heck, I'm not even from Ohio.
My life as a Browns fan began in the late 1960's. I'm from Kentucky and Browns games were broadcast locally and often before the Colts moved to Indianapolis and Bungles existed in Cincinnati. As a result, there are lots of Browns fans - loyal ones - in Louisville around my age. There's a sizeable Browns Backers club that meet at a watering hole every Sunday during the season to drink their sorrows away while watching their team - the Browns - a love for which they can't shake.
And that's me too. I love this franchise. Why? I wish I could definitively say, but I think it may because it's linked to the memory of a happy childhood growing up in a town of 1100 - a Mayberry like railroad town called Lebanon Junction. I remember the Frank Ryan and Bill Nelson/Leroy Kelly/Paul Warfield/Gary Collins era like it was yesterday. I remember the great announcer Ray Scott eloquently calling those games: "Collins to the left, Warfield on the right. Nelson takes the snap..." I remember the cardiac kids and Brian Sipe's interception Red Right 88 and the emotional trauma it caused me, and the devastation caused by the Drive and the Fumble against "horsed face" Elway in the 80's. I remember the tears shed watching the Browns final game before they moved to Baltimore.
Perhaps it's the disappointments, along with the sprinkles of what "may have been" moments that keep us Browns fans hooked for life. Sure, we bad mouth them, express our disgust with their management and decisions, but we won't tolerate other fans disparaging the Browns. At least I won't.
Because they're MY Browns - and attacking the Browns is attacking a treasure trove of experiences - bitter and sweet - that make up my life. Go Browns!