Column: Loyal Cleveland fans should feel dawg pounded

Jonas Fortune

In the Nov. 6 edition of Sports Illustrated, I came across a story about the Cleveland Browns. This doesn’t happen very often, so I thought, as a loyal Browns fan, I’d better read it. I was filled with pride as I read Mark Bechtel’s “Dawg Day Afternoons.”

He talked about the drive, the fumble and, most of all, the loyalty of Browns fans no matter how murky Lake Erie gets in the fall. Bechtel sourced a study that said the Browns have the most loyal following of any NFL team. But after the article sunk in a little bit, I didn’t feel as happy.

Bechtel states an incredible playoff comeback nearly 20 years ago against the Jets as the last great thing Cleveland fans have had to cheer about.

Nearly 20 years ago!

Somehow Cleveland Browns Stadium still sells out. Being that loyal is something to be proud of; however, I feel like my patience is starting to wear thin.

Since the team’s return in 1999, Browns loyalists have seen three different coaches, six different quarterbacks, 39 victories, 84 losses, one playoff appearance and only one winning season. Don’t the most loyal fans deserve something better than this?

At the beginning of this season I remember listening to talk radio and hearing some football guru saying the Browns are a team that should only be judged by the second half of the season. He spoke of Charlie Frye, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards having inexperience and needing time to come together. I bought every minute of it.

The fact of the matter is there are five games left and this team feels as if it may have regressed. There is no doubt in my mind Winslow and Edwards can be really good if the Browns ever get things clicking offensively. I really can’t judge Frye until I see him play behind a line that doesn’t force him into survival mode.

It is painful to watch Frye on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes I feel like the Browns should petition the league to invoke the backyard three-second count before the other team can blitz. It would only make Browns games fair.

The problem isn’t with Frye, Winslow and Edwards. The real kicker lies within the coaching staff.

In a sport where survival of the fittest never rings more true, the coaching staff is holding this team back by their ultra-conservative approach. Don’t be scared to lose, Romeo, you’re losing all the time anyway.

Yes, I am still a loyal Browns enthusiast, but after seven consecutive seasons of “rebuilding” I don’t know how much more I can take. In order to keep the most loyal fans, a must-win attitude must develop soon.

Contact sports columnist Jonas Fortune at [email protected].