Browns fans: Who we are – Part I
Before I go more in depth discussing my favorite franchise, let me pull the curtain back and help explain (to outsiders) the fan base to which I am proud to be a part of. Cleveland Browns fans are some of the most knowledgeable football fanatics I have ever met. This comes both in the sense of historically and in the recent future. When watching the team play during a typical Sunday afternoon, I can count numerous people making references to 1964 (the franchise’s last championship), the fact they team has 8 titles (dating back to the 1946 AAFC Championship), or even the Bernie Kosar era. They remember the players, the old stadium, and the feeling they had watching (or even hearing about) “the good old times.” We argue that Otto Graham was the best quarterback ever and that Paul Brown was the best coach.
However, fans also remember the history of other teams as well; we grow tired of the Steelers, Patriots, 49ers, etc. due to their success (and multiple championships) that have spanned over decades. Fans recall and hate the long losing streaks within the division. We get depressed knowing that Chuck Noll and Bill Cower have Cleveland ties. Some Browns fans still harbor hate towards John Elway for the three AFC Championship defeats.
We also have strong memories when it comes to former players and coaches. Browns fans rue the day they drafted player “X” several years ago as now he is making an impact on a different team (after the franchise released him). They also remember those whom the franchise drafted early and had little to no success (that list is plentiful). Meanwhile, coach “Y” of another franchise is not as good as he appears, as we remember his multiple losing seasons with the brown and orange.
Also, Browns fans can be labeled students of the game; no more of this is as true as in offseason. Potential draft picks, free agents, and available coaching hires have been scouted and studied by backers; by the time the team has an opportunity to make a move, a majority have a great idea of who they deem as worthy (or not). There are discussions and debates among friends about who will help the team the most. Perhaps it’s the perpetual losing, but getting to know personnel in the offseason has always been a strong suit for the fan base.
A large percentage of fans of opposing teams take the appropriately named offseason “off”. They will watch the draft and keep an eye on their team’s moves in free agency, but the knowledge leading into the time period is not as apparent. These fans do focus on their team a large portion of the year, but not for all twelve months.
Another description of Cleveland Browns fans is that they are extremely loyal (for the most part). I’ve heard the expression “a Browns fan for life” way too many times to count, and I’m sure that phrase will be uttered thousands more times for over the next few decades. Many feel they do not want to cheapen themselves by changing allegiances and taking a coward’s way out when it comes to having a favorite NFL team.
Aside from a select fair-weathered fans from northeast Ohio, the base of Browns fans will continue to support the team by going to games and purchasing paraphernalia. Not only has Cleveland Browns Stadium been a place for fans to convene, several take annual road trips to watch the team. Personally when travelling, I always notice a large display of Browns gear in opposing cities. One aspect that intrigued me was the level of loyalty I came across in other parts of the country. I have met people who have never been to Cleveland and are Browns fans simply because their father was. Loyalty breeds loyalty and one would suspect the next generation of those families would be Browns fans as well.
Traditionalists would be another word to describe fans of the NFL team from Cleveland. Supporting a franchise without logos on their helmet (sans a few seasons with players’ numbers on the sides), no cheerleaders, and rather plain uniforms, fans clamor for old school football. We enjoy the same color combination on our jerseys, and any changes (i.e. the brown pants in 2007) usually are greeted with uproar from the fans. While teams like the Broncos, Buccaneers, and Rams have made major changes to their looks, these aspects (for the most part) have remained the same.
When thinking of what it means to be a Browns fan, one must consider that well informed, faithful, and purists are three of the several traits. The base knows what came before the current team and believes they know who or what will help lead the team back to dominance; something we can all agree upon – is definitely coming.