Opinion: Cleveland Browns fans are the hopeless romantics of the NFL

Jack Kopanski

Jack Kopanski

Jack Kopanski

The history of the Browns is one that is equal parts glorious and tumultuous, yet we fans come back every Sunday afternoon to invest three and a half hours of our time and energy into this team.

It’s said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

By that logic, the entire Cleveland Browns organization and their fanbase belong in straight-jackets. A team that improves only marginally each year — if they improve at all — produces the same result every training camp and preseason: Fans expect nothing less than a perfect 16-0 season, with a Super Bowl ring.

Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly, but can you blame us Browns fans for wanting to find optimism wherever we can?

In a football town that has seen success everywhere but the gridiron, there’s something about the hardworking, blue-collar attitude that is relatable to Clevelanders and Ohioans alike.

There’s also a certain toughness about the Cleveland Browns and their fans. The things that this city and team have experienced together — I’m convinced — would tear apart a lesser fanbase.

The valiant 80s of the Bernie Kosar led, perennial playoff contending “Kardiac Kids,” featuring such events as “The Drive,” “The Fumble” and “Red Right 88.” All of these were just the appetizer for the main course that was the greatest treachery in sports history: Art Modell moving the team in the middle of the night to Baltimore.

For five years this city suffered without a football team to call their own. Anger and sadness was overwhelming, until hope prevailed in 1999 when the team returned.

Since then, the product on the field has been a shell of what it was 30 years ago. In this 19 year span, the team has gone through 9 coaches, 27 starting quarterbacks and has mustered only two seasons over .500.

Yet we keep. Coming. Back.

To put it simply, Browns fans are a bunch of hopeless romantics, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

After every draft, every training camp and every preseason, the same phrases are uttered, almost religiously, by fans.

“He’s got a year under his belt, and he’s ready to go now!”

“There’s always THIS year!”

“(Insert highly touted rookie name here) is gonna turn this team around!”

While there is certainly something to be said for being realistic about what this team can accomplish, this year’s team does provide plenty to be optimistic and excited about.

With Hue Jackson entering his second season as coach and three first-round picks on the roster coming into camp, this is the most revamped team that Cleveland has seen since the return.

There will still be no playoffs this season, but an improvement on last year is all but assured.

At this current trajectory, seeing “Just one championship before I die” can remain a joke among fans and not an actual goal. Until that time comes, fans need only sit back and enjoy the ride as they have for years before and will for years to come.

Jack Kopanski is a guest columnist. Contact him at [email protected].