There is a continual struggle when watching Cleveland Browns football. Is it worse to be uninteresting and get blown out or is it worse to be in tight games every week and then lose them all? The sad truth is that the overwhelming majority of the time, I have only known the former. A few times per year, there will be close/competitive/semi-interesting games that end up (usually) going in the opponent’s favor, but typically they aren’t much of a contest. I know it hurts more to lose games when they have been close, but I think I’m ready to start dealing with that as a sign of life for future success.
Point: the Browns are moving in the right direction. They’re watchable! Through two games, fans have had the luxury of being emotionally invested for the entire contest. I want you to stop and really think about this one: how many times in the last few years have back-to-back games (against good teams, no less) been exciting throughout? A completely unscientific survey of my recent memory shows no results since…a long time ago.
Of course, those soul-crushing end-of-game touchdowns still happen, but that’s worth the pain of being a decent NFL team. Know what else is part of being a decent NFL team? Scoring more than 17 points. The Browns did that twice all of last season.
Granted, they’re only one-for-two thus far, but Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals showed signs of life. Had the offense from Week Two combined with the defense of Week One, it would have had the makings of a tremendous showing. While playing the “what if” game is a slippery slope, it’s a little different when you’ve seen both aspects that you’d simply like to put together. It’s conceivable that both the offense and defense will show up in the same game, and if they could do that consistently (which is a colossal leap that I’m not suggesting will happen before next season), the Browns would be a competitive team.
Rejoice – this team is watchable again. My dad stopped watching the Browns for years because they weren’t putting out a product that was worth invetsing time or money into. I would admonish him for not caring about the hometown team and he would immediately point out that everyone in the league refers to it as “a business.” And businesses are supposed to provide good products or services, right? Well, if that prodcut is defective, that business shouldn’t succeed…right?
I want that product to be competitive with other products. The Browns, if competitive, would become like a mom-and-pop shop that I wanted to support instead of going to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s low prices would be like a team that wins, but I would support the local grocery because it’s mine. I can handle “a little worse” if there is a legitimate reason or positive impact done by it. In this case, the positive impact/legitimate reason would be that the Browns were in the same realm as the metaphorical Wal-Marts and Targets (say, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers). I want to support the local business. It would just be much easier to support the local business if it sold food that tasted good.
If the NFL was like any other business in the country, the Browns would have gone bankrupt by 2002. Yet, somehow they doubled in value. I don’t understand things. But the horizon is beginning to brighten. If you forget how many times you said “This team stinks,” “I hate this team,” or “This team is so bad that I want to punch myself for being only kind of upset a minute ago,” you can see that these two games have, overall, been more interesting to watch than most of last season.
And that, my friends, is reason for celebration.
Next season? Maybe they’ll win even win a few.