Cleveland Browns, Father’s Day, and 51 Years and Counting …


With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season kaput and the city’s title thirst unquenched for another year, our dreams turn to training camp for the Cleveland Browns and wondering what to do with two lonely, unopened “Don’t Give Up the Ship” IPAs.

I could wait to quaff them after the first two Browns wins, but given the national media hating our quarterbacks, wide receivers and front office, those two wins might not come until 2016, if then.

So when our son, Brian, (yes, he’s of drinking age) asked “Dad, now that the Cavs lost can I open that Great Lakes in the fridge?” I thought, sure, but against what backdrop in our Cleveland man cave should we capture the moment?

The portrait of Gene Hickerson and John Wooten leading Jim Brown on a power sweep? Bernie-autographed football? Cleveland Stadium seats? The 1964 team photo?

But then the idea came from nowhere – just like Tim Couch‘s Hail Mary to Kevin Johnson for the first Browns v.2 winIt will be next year – No. 52. Passing over my pantheon of legendary Browns’ jersey numbers – No. 32, No. 14, No. 73 (Joe Thomas, but could be Doug Dieken) there it stood like Cleveland itself, resilient, reliable Dick “Bam Bam” Ambrose.

By Roman calendar standards, Cleveland could technically end the drought in Year 51 if the sub-.500 Tribe somehow wins the 2015 World Series. Not likely if the Cubs’ recent  17-0 walkover in any indication. It was an ugly Browns score; in Little League that’s what’s known as a “Mercy Rule Game,” sending the kids home early! Yes, the Cavs are early favorites for the NBA title – but that gauntlet run couldn’t end before June of 2016.

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So while the Browns currently stand undefeated, here’s a little post-Father’s Day 2015 reality: the player formerly known as Johnny Football broke his silence and depending on which minicamp report you believe, he’s either creating red-zone magic or can’t catch a shotgun snap.  Our starting quarterback, Josh McCown, first got benched then was cut after last season – by the worst team in the NFL. Keeping it all in the family, his more talented younger brother, Luke, was winless in four starts for the Browns in 2004.

So the drought continues and our Cleveland sports fan circle of life plays out for the Northeast Ohio diaspora: Hope from the Cavs’ Mother’s Day Miracle; less than a month later, the Father’s Day Funk. But despite the 51-year drought, the great memories remain fresher than the Named Defeats: sitting alongside my late father – an original Browns’ season ticket holder – in Section 35 Upper Deck of Municipal Stadium for the 1964 title game. My wife Janet’s first Browns’ game – beating Dallas on Monday Night Football (and her allowing me to show the 1980 Browns highlight film at our rehearsal dinner). Feeding our day-old son, Daniel, while watching the double-overtime playoff win against the New York Jets, naming Brian after a Browns quarterback, our beloved Corgi/retriever Brownie.

So to the Cavs, thanks for adding to the fun family memories – and let’s toast to No. 52 – Judge Ambrose’s final ruling: the year we can stop counting.

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