To paraphrase someone wiser than me: When things end, you think about how they started.
I was home last weekend (making the title of this column kind of ridiculous, as I’ve been in three different cities through four games) and caught the game in the comfort of my own home. My father and I kicked back on the couches in our living room and calmly half-watched the Browns take a step back against a mediocre Tennessee Titans team.
The mood was sour from the start; the reason I was home was to see my dog, who died Saturday. Sunday, while better, wasn’t exactly a carnival of fun either.
We sat, and we didn’t really even care what was going on. At one point in the fourth quarter, an announcer mentioned something that had been happening all game (probably dropped passes). My dad muttered something and qualified it by saying “although I guess I haven’t really been watching any of this game, have I?”
And that was the truth. He had the newspaper, I had my phone, and each was distracting us from caring about a game that wasn’t worth caring about.
But did either of us want to be anywhere else? I know I was where I belonged and I’m pretty sure he felt the same way.
I don’t know when my Browns fanhood started but I know it started because of him. I remember liking the Browns in that they were the home team. Pre-Baltimore though, as I don’t really have any clear memories of the team beyond my dad yelling at Eric Metcalf for running backwards. Really, my only vivid NFL memories of the early 90s were of hating the Cowboys and, inexplicably, the 49ers destroying the Chargers in whatever Super Bowl that was. Despite this, I was ecstatic when I heard that the Browns were coming back.
I never went to a game before the Browns left town, which was by my father’s design. Almost a decade after they came back we went to a game together, and he mentioned to me that an NFL game is flat-out not a place for kids, and he’s absolutely right. But that also throws out the theory of why I might have been a Browns fan because of him.
We didn’t have Sunday hangouts or tailgate parties to celebrate the Browns playing, we didn’t paint anything in our house orange and brown for them, and we didn’t alter any of our family vehicles in order to make them look like a dog (or dawg, for that matter).
Maybe there’s no explanation for how he instilled it in me, but there we sat on Sunday afternoon. Somber and silent, half-watching an ugly football game. We hoped that the game would lift our spirits – we definitely could have used that. Obviously, it didn’t.
But we felt the same way. Whatever that feeling was, we were both feeling it. It’s palpable, this “thing” with the Browns. Sure, they seem to eternally suck, but we still possess them in our weird way – unhealthy as it may be. At the very least, they unite us in something that we can both be disappointed by.
Whatever the cause, the solution, or the outcome of all this, I still love them and I thank my dad for that.
So go Browns. And happy birthday, Dad.