Thursday, August 3, 2006

The Bad News Browns

So, I had what I thought was a briliant beyond brilliant idea for something to do on a depressed Midwestern budget - go to the Browns training camp open to the public. I thought that my unmitigated genius would be obvious to my husband, a football fan that has been counting down the months until the season starts up again. Just 3 more months, 2 more months - you get the picture. However, I was greeted with a "Dude, I'm not going out in this heat to see the Browns." Shocked I was, I tell you. Utterly shocked. This led me to take a bit of a journey down Cleveland Sportsfan Lane.

Okay. So I'm from Cleveland;born and raised. Been here all my life. That's not a concession or an apology; it's a statement of fact. Anyone from here knows that while we've got a lot of great things to offer: incredible cultural institutions like our world-famous Cleveland Orchestra, a great theatre district, top-notch neighborhood theater, a slew of great family events - lots are even free. Yet, probably the thing we are most known for is our love of sports. The Browns,the Cavaliers, the Indians - no matter how bad or how great they were we were right by their side.

Now, I am a sports fan, too. I won't paint my body orange, wear a Varajao wig or anything like that (come to think of it, my hair looks pretty much like that anyway) but I have been known to get a small Cavs face tatoo and wield a pretty good-sized "Larry Love" sign proclaiming my adoration for Larry Hughes. He's adorable - reminds me of Fievel from American Tail - I really like the guy. Anyhoo, though I am a devout Cavs fan - even through the grim years - my love for the Bad News Browns and the Anyone Gonna Git That? Indians tends to wane.

I was in the stands of the Jake plenty for those raging years that we were in pennant races - screaming my lungs out when I had cause. I think more than the "does anyone really give a damn?" playing style the Indians have become comfortable with or manager Eric Wedge's standard, arms-folded-behind-the-head "it's not me, it's them" speech what has really put me off is the thought process - and I use that term loosely- of the Indians' general management. As my husband says - "The Indians is a farm team for the rest of the league." Frickin' brilliant. That's it in a nutshell.

In Cleveland sports history we have a history of giving away Manny Ramirezes; Jim Thomes; Ron Harpers and other players that turned out to be sports legends - somewhere else. And we never seem to get anything in return. I'm just glad we managed to hold on to LeBron - a genius on so many levels both on and off of the court that we'll have to wait for another post for that one.

So, finally we make it to the Browns. I do watch football - not like basketball or tennis - but I do. Unfortunately the only regular season game I've ever attended is the notorious "bottle-throwing incident" that caused bottles to be banned across the League - unfortunately it had no effect on poor officiating. Pity. Needless to say, it was also my last visit to the stadium.

I know our fans LOVE the Browns - now THAT's a faithful crowd - but there are so many things that puzzle me about the guys in brown and orange. Like:

  1. What are they still doing in brown & orange? We had a chance to ditch this fashion faux-pas when Art Modell trotted off with the original Browns.
  2. Why did we keep the name? I know we're all nostalgic here and everything - but no other team in this league or any other major league I can think of is named after a person. Geez!
  3. Where are we getting these fragile rookies? Don't these guys drink milk?
  4. Isn't there some kind of orientation that goes over things you probably shouldn't do as an NFL Player of a desperate team? Endos; drinking and driving when you've got millions of frickin' dollars to pay a driver; beat up your wife, get beat up or stabbed in the back by your crazy-ass girlfriend - the list goes on and on.
Okay, so maybe I see his point. But, like all other Cleveland fans - we'll carp about it but we'll be right there in front of the television set for the start of our Beloved Bad News Browns season.
Samara Leigh

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