A Parade for Losing

My Brownies went 0-16 and some fans threw a big parade.

3,200 diehards showed up Saturday, January 6th in sub-zero wind chill to ironically celebrate the Cleveland Brown’s ‘perfect’ season.  It was a protest, really, a serious message to owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam that the fans are not happy.  They could have marched in anger, but instead they released their frustration with floats and signs reflecting the dark humor every Brown’s fan is required to have.  (Link to Article)

And they tailgated.

They showed up early and cooked ribs and burgers and chugged beers as old-timers told tales of the golden days when the Modell-owned Browns won games, made the playoffs and held parades that were never tongue and cheek.  “Those teams had the same head coach and quarterback for years at a time,” astonished orange and brown clad youngsters are told, “and the Browns fans back then weren’t so sad and defensive.”

That’s because there was hope.

Every time Coach Rutigliano and Brian Sipe took on a team, fans knew they had a chance to win.  Same with Coach Shottenheimer and Bernie Kosar.  For many of those years they figured out how to finish the game on top more often than not which made watching them and being a fan something to be proud of and celebrate.

Nowadays, though, being a Browns fan is embarrassing.

At least where I live in Dallas, Cowboys fans treat my Browns cap politely, though always with a trace of pity and an unsaid ‘better you than me’.  They know what it feels like to have a down stretch in the NFL, and they see my team as an example of what can happen when ownership and the front office are guilty of lacking a single clue.  They see the word ‘Browns’ on my hat and shake their heads sympathetically but most keep their distance, because losing is a disease that every team is afraid to catch.

In the last thirty-two games, the Browns have only won once.

Obviously, fans are calling for the head of Coach Hugh Jackson, and who could blame them?  If any of us succeeded that rarely at our jobs, we’d be updating our resume and trying to find our LinkedIn password.  Even though Jackson has been told his job is safe for the rebuild, it’s hard to believe that his 1-31 record makes him feel confident in his own survivability.

But honestly, what fool would replace him?

Who would be talented enough to win with such a young team yet be willing to risk his career reputation by even trying?  As sports writer Craig Lyndall says, “The Browns are kryptonite in search of Superman, and there’s no reason why anyone with those kinds of powers would agree to come here and wear those colors that would automatically limit their ability to fly.”  (Link to Article)  In other words, we’re the ugly guy at the dance who’s supposed to be happy he’s found any partner at all.

Except from the looks of Saturday’s parade signs, the ugly guy ain’t happy.

One sign read, “I’m with stupid,” with an arrow pointing to another sign that read, “Browns Season Ticket Holder.”  There were grave markers etched with the names of the many failed head coaches and benched quarterbacks we’ve suffered since ‘99, and plenty of written invitations for the Haslams to take a flying leap into the lake.

One thing was missing, thankfully.

Nobody called out or embarrassed the young Browns players who, to their credit, always showed up to play.  Even these disappointed fans knew there’s no sense in blaming these NFL newbies – it’s not their fault coach threw so many of them into the fire before being properly seasoned.  It’s not really Jackson’s fault either, because, as Lyndall says, “Jackson is being asked to turn water into wine, but you want him to do it without stomping some grapes and letting the new mixture ferment over time.” (Link to Article)

Wine?  Right now, we’d take watery grape juice.

There were plenty of fans and players against Saturday’s parade, but even they knew there was no point in trying to stop it from happening.  Now that it has, we can put this awful season behind us and get ready for an NFL draft where we have top pick, three more picks in the next 34 selections, plus more than $100 million in salary cap room for free agents.  With all that, new GM John Dorsey had better improve the team, bring hope back to Cleveland and turn the ‘Factory of Sadness’ into a ‘Manufacturer of Wins’.

Otherwise, the Haslams should expect an even bigger parade, one of embarrassed Browns season ticket holders marching away.

  • Mike Lukas

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