An Open Letter to Chansi Stuckey

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Cleveland Browns Chansi Stuckey (L) reaches the ball over the goal line for a touchdown with Kyle Arrington of the New England Patriots hanging on during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland, Ohio November 7, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Dear Chansi,

Hey, man, how you holding up? If I had to guess, I’d say you’re probably still feeling a little shitty after that fumble. It’s understandable, especially if you read Peter King: He named you his Goat of the Week.

Even a couple days after, it still sucks that you fumbled at the worst possible time. But know that I don’t blame you solely for the loss, and I hope that the majority of Browns fans don’t, either. In fact, I bet that most of them don’t since Browns fans are some of the most intelligent (and dedicated) football fans in the NFL. I’m sure that the majority of us appreciate the unfairness in declaring your fumble as the game-deciding error. There were just too many other things that happened against the Jets to put the blame entirely on your shoulders. Things like not being able to stop the Jets running game and not being able to bring down a gimpy Mark Sanchez also played a part in the overtime loss, as did the 3 man rush and some poor tackling. It also didn’t help that injuries were piling up, either.

Now don’t get me wrong, your fumble was costly, and at the time and even more so in hindsight I wanted nothing more than for you to get the hell out of bounds so Phil Dawson could at least have a shot at winning it.

Still, I can’t fault you too much for fighting for some extra yards, especially given the way this season has played out so far. I’d be a hypocrite if I did. It’s plays like the one you attempted to make that have really defined this season and are the reasons why this 3-6 Browns squad is probably the most embraced 3-6 squad in recent NFL history. Guys are fighting for those extra yards and coaches are coaching their asses off. It’s hard not to admire the toughness and fight in this Browns team, and really your fumble was because of these qualities. This time, it just didn’t work in the Browns favor. The past couple weeks it has.

 The other reason I can’t come down on you too hard, or really at all, is because of your reaction immediately after you fumbled. You were crushed on the sidelines, and devestated that you let your team down against your former team.

Now I’m not particularly a fan of schadenfreude, but I loved the fact that it cut you so bad. It made me feel good to see that this game meant so much to you, that you were clearly bothered by what happened. Sometimes fans need reassured that the athletes they root for care about winning and losing as much as they do, especially in a city that used to root  for a guy named LeBron James. It sucks that it happened, but you handled it great. It’s a lot easier to forgive an athlete that cares and holds himself accountable than one that blames everybody else for his misfortunes. That’s why we’d take guys like you over Braylon Edwards in a New York minute. 

So keep your head up, Chansi, and remember that this was just a fumble, not “The Fumble.” 

Keep catching those shallow crossing routes over the middle and converting first downs. Next time just hold on to the damn ball, please.

Sincerely,

Bernie Dawkins, a very satisfied fan of a 3-6 football team

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