The latest incarnation of my 40 plus year tradition of being a Cleveland Browns football fan culminates today with the opening game of the regular season. If you root for any of the teams in the NFL that have won a Super Bowl or better yet if you root for a team that has at least made it to the big show you probably have no idea what it is like to be a Browns fan, especially since they came back into the league in 1999. Today when the Browns take the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the wait until next year calls can again begin in earnest. And the tradition will continue anew.
Cleveland sports fan are a hearty bunch. No professional Cleveland sports team has won a league championship since the 1964 Browns (sorry Force fans, the MISL doesn't count) with the Indians leading the futility charge with their last championship occurring in 1948. The Browns can also lay claim to several of pro football's most memorable chokes including "The Drive" and "The Fumble" both of which resulted in them missing out on chances to reach the Super Bowl. Just to give you an idea of my memories of being a Cleveland sports fan you must first know when I was born, October 1964, or for those not paying attention, a full 9 months after the Browns won the last championship in Cleveland sports history.
So with that in mind what can I hang my hat on besides "The Drive" and "The Fumble"? How about the Tribe losing in 6 to the Braves in 1995, or maybe the memorable blown 9th inning lead in game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins and finally who can forget the 4 game sweep this past June when the Spurs completely embarrassed the Cavs in their first ever NBA finals appearance.
After today or if by some miracle they play well against the Steelers, soon there after, Browns fans can again look to next April's draft where they will surely have a top 10 pick and draft the next big thing at whatever position he plays, welcome aboard Brady! The draft then starts the annual tradition of hope and excitement that results in Browns fan's delusion belief that the Super Bowl is within their grasp. Those feelings usually last for the 4 months before the season starts or until the current big name player gets hurt doing something stupid on his motorcycle in some parking lot which results in another Cleveland Browns tradition, reality setting in once more.
So again Browns fans I ask are you ready for some football? At least this year the Indians are still in first place giving Cleveland fans some hope at the start of the football season though there is still 3 weeks for them to choke, is Jose Mesa still available?
UPDATE: Well my Brownies didn't disappoint. Final: Pittsburgh 34 Cleveland 7. Wait till next year!