If there’s one thing a Cleveland Browns fan knows, it’s spite. We fans carry spite in all kinds of ways towards all kinds of groups, people, and locations. As such, watching the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs tends to bring up some unpleasant emotions from Browns fans.
But not from me.
On the one hand, it does sting my pride a little bit to know that the team Cleveland used to have has become a perennial contender less than a decade after skipping town on Art Modell’s tab. But the fact of the matter is that the Ravens aren’t the Browns. They just aren’t.
Even when they won the Super Bowl in 2000, the only holdover was Matt Stover, but everyone still acted like the Ravens were our stolen football team, winning a championship that Browns fans “deserved.” Now we get to watch them make the playoffs every year as we prepare ourselves for who the Browns will choose/mentally destroy in the upcoming draft.
So where do we draw the line? Do we get mad at the Cincinnati Bengals for picking Rey Maualuga after the Browns let him slip by in favor of Brian Robiskie? The Bengals had a pretty good defense this season, so there’s obviously a connection there, right? Do we get mad at the Pittsburgh Steelers for miraculously being the Rust Belt city to maintain a good professional football team? I mean, that clearly should have been the Browns.
These are stupid arguments. We’re not stupid people. We’re emotionally charged fans, we’re people who love football, and we’re people who do our best to maintain loyalty to a program that doesn’t do a lot for us in return.
So I say this: Don’t waste your time pretending to still be mad at the Ravens for being the ex-Browns. It’s okay. You can dislike them because they’re in the same division and they’re continually beating the Browns, but don’t be mad because they’re allegedly “our” team.
We, as fans, have more pressing issues to be upset about. We’re reading, writing, and talking about a team that, if you’re under 30 years old, has made the playoffs once since your formative years. We’re dealing with a team that finishes in the bottom five in either offense or defense (sometimes both) year in and year out. We’re avoiding concerning ourselves with a team that has had top-ten picks seemingly every year since 1999.
Not that I think I’m solving any problems with our fandom by saying we should worry more about in-house problems than what’s going on around us. I understand that we should point fingers wherever we can so that we’re not crippled with depression from the aforementioned history of this team. But with the Browns’ version of the Super Bowl coming soon (that’s the draft, of course), it’s hard not to take a look at this organization and realize that other teams are not our biggest problem.
So I say go ahead, Ravens. Play great football, win games. I don’t care. You’ve got nothing to do with my favorite football team other than sharing a division.
Curiously, it seems that a lot of my friends will root for the Big Ten when Ohio State isn’t playing so that it makes their conference look better, but no one would root for the Ravens to make the Browns’ division look tougher, right?
Anyway, best of luck in New England, Baltimore. I suspect you won’t need it because you’ve worried about yourselves long enough to figure this game out. Take note, Cleveland.