The Remote Report: A Cleveland Browns Fan Checks in from Chicago
We don’t need to talk about the Bengals game. The nuts and bolts have been inspected, commented on, and then promptly thrown in the
trash. What’s done is (temporarily) done.
But things feel different from 300 miles away.
There’s a communal sense to the Cleveland Browns. It teeters between bliss and delusion, except that it teeters to the delusional side roughly 90% of the time.
There are no less than five Cleveland Browns bars within one mile of my apartment in Chicago. Five are needed to satiate the rabid fan-base that comes to life every September.
Less than one is needed by January.
On the morning of the season opener, I made the trek toward a friend’s house, making a point to walk past two of the Browns bars to confirm that my brethren were in the spirit by 11:00 Central time (they were).
I heard the familiar faithful smattering of “Go Browns!” from complete strangers. At equal times it warmed my heart and added to my concern; people seemed genuinely optimistic about the team that has not given any reason for optimism since Blossom was on TV. But I kept my chin up. We shared high fives and smiles as I wandered down the road toward Tom’s house (name kept same for posterity purposes).
We had a solid group of seven Browns fans whose company – and pizza/dip/pizza-dip – helped us almost forget what we were watching.
After the game though…that’s when the story really happens. On my way home, I didn’t need to look at someone’s shirt to see if they were Clevelanders or not. It’s a look, a demeanor, and a familiar sting in an unfamiliar city.
I sat on the bus with my jersey over my shoulder because I didn’t even want people to know that I vicariously felt like a loser. I looked up after traveling a few blocks and noticed someone with a vacant stare and a shirt over their shoulder.
We caught eyes, nodded, sighed, and went home.
The silver-plated lining is the hope that next week, we’ll high five instead.