The lockout didn’t change the preseason schedule, but it did make this feel like a particularly long and agonizing offseason. Months of uncertainty and little actual football news to report took its toll on the psyche of every football fan, but that is all now a thing of the past, as tonight is the first chance we have to see the 2011 Cleveland Browns in real action.
Naturally, we need to curb our expectations for this game, not getting too carried away with what we see on the field. But that doesn’t mean fans can’t feel that initial tinge of excitement when they see the Browns take the field for the first time.
After all, this NFL season has been a long time coming. Fans have endured months of lockout talk and speculation, which,when it’s all boiled down, was just an argument fueled by greed over how to split billions of dollars in revenue. While the Browns’ starters will only be on the field for the first quarter, and the quality of play will likely leave plenty to be desired, that doesn’t mean we can’t bask in the glory that is the return of the game we love.
Besides, each preseason game just brings us one step closer to the start of the actual season. This particularly harrowing offseason reminded fans everywhere just how much we care and how much time we choose to invest in this game. The only thing fans ask in return is to see their favorite teams take the field and when that was potentially in jeopardy, it made us consider what kind of influence football has in our lives.
That kind of introspection this offseason can only enhance our experiences of the NFL this year. With a renewed sense of dedication, despite the petty squabbling that took place between the owners and players, fans have the opportunity to enjoy the game at an entirely new level.
So when the Browns do take the field tonight at Cleveland Browns Stadium, embrace that excitement and bask in the knowledge that this first game is only the first step in what will be an exciting autumn in Northeast Ohio.