As mentioned/bragged about, I was in Europe for a few weeks. I came up with my pipe dream for the Cleveland Browns while I was over there, and it doesn’t expressly revolve around winning a billion championships. But can you just imagine, for one moment, a world in which the Browns were internationally relevant?
For the record, having an owner who also owns a Premier League team doesn’t count.
Invariably, there are American sports logos littered throughout Europe. The need for new socks led me to a Foot Locker, which obviously has hats of American sports teams. The NFL section wasn’t just the New England Patriots and the NFC East, which came as a shock to me. It was basically the New York Giants, Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and a few others – which is to say that it wasn’t just Super Bowl winners. So how cool would it have been to see a Browns hat there?
I wore a Browns hoodie around for a decent amount of the trip, largely because I’m too poor to purchase a new sweatshirt. If I do that in Chicago, as I’ve written before, I will at least receive various comments that range from “Go Browns” to “Tough break.” In a tourist-heavy destination, it’s far more likely to receive a comment from someone who is in the same place as you, or may cheer for the same team. I didn’t receive a single comment about wearing something with a Browns logo on it, nor did I see another of its kind. I saw people wearing Pats hats, and tons of New York Yankees/Los Angeles Dodgers/Boston Red Sox/Los Angeles Lakers kinds of things as well, but none dared to wear something of the Browns.
I suppose it would help to win championships, but I wonder if there’s more to it. It seemed to me that the majority of US teams that were represented were the big cities. I get why people would wear a Yankees hat – it’s like being a fan of the Brazilian soccer team or of Real Madrid; it’s easy to root for a team that wins all of the time. I don’t get why people were wearing Los Angeles Dodgers hats. Is it a color thing? Is it because they know that LA itself is a big deal? If it’s either of those, I completely understand why no one was wearing Browns gear.
So how can it be remedied? Every athlete, business owner, or company wants to grow and improve. The term “global icon” seems to have been thrown into the everyday vocabulary of athletes these days, so why not make it the same for a team? If you own an NFL team, you want it to be a big deal everywhere, not just in the states. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get people around the globe to like a team that plays while they’re asleep, but it’s not impossible.
The plausibility of signing players from overseas is kind of laughable, seeing as no one else really cares about American football enough to start clubs in schools (not to mention, schools that play American football is quite an issue in this country, let alone others). Scheduling the games in London is kind of ridiculous as well, but seeing as though the NFL has sent crappy teams the last few years, why not send the Browns next year? I’d be fine with them playing in England – especially if they put up a fight.
My point is that something has to change, either way. Fans are putting a lot of hope and faith in Jimmy Haslam to figure out the giant mess that has existed for, well, as long as I can remember. I would guess that Haslam wants the Browns to be internationally relevant more than I do, but I want it pretty badly. I wish that we could have gone to an American sports bar and seen a game other than Giants-Redskins. Of course, I also wish that players wanted to play for the Browns because they were like the Manchester United of the NFL.
A guy can dream, right?