Cleveland Browns: The “Jersey” belongs in the Hall of Fame

Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) and quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) and quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The “Jersey” is a piece of Cleveland Browns history that should be preserved in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Cleveland Browns “jersey” that hung in the window of Brokaw Inc. has been retired. But it should not be forgotten. The jersey is a part of our love story with the Browns. It is the story of Cleveland fans and should be preserved.

Tim Brokaw, in an email to ESPN’s Pat McManamon stated that “It’s a new day in Cleveland. We want to be a part of that.” The heroic effort of LeBron James to take 52 years of weight, sorrow and disappointment upon his shoulders and break its hold on Cleveland has reached far beyond the basketball court. James’ efforts have begun to heal an entire city.  We have journeyed through our dark night of the soul and emerged on the other side.

Even Tim Brokaw is caught up in the excitement of what breaking the curse can mean for the city. “The dark cloud,” Brokaw said, “has been lifted.” “The bad vibes that has held this city down are gone. And with that, Brokaw has decided to retire the famous “jersey”.

“Not exactly how we planned it,” Brokaw said. “But after last night’s historic performance, we realized all negative energy and bad juju should be eliminated from The Land.”

Brokaw did his part to eliminate the “bad juju” by retiring, what has become to some, a symbol of depression and ineptitude.

But in a time where people are happy to turn the page into a new era, it is important we preserve the icons of hardships that shaped us as a fan base. We no longer have to live in the midst of sports depression, but we should never forget it.

Sports and religion are more alike than different. Sports put on a magical display of athletic wonder through which we live vicariously. Our moods swing with the ups and downs at each turn. We live for the ups and are saddened by the downs. Religion, the good kind, transports us into another world in which we are lifted beyond ourselves. It takes all that is wrong with the world and transforms it into a new way of being.

At the center of both Cleveland sports and healthy religion is the transformation of suffering into new life. At the center of Judaism is a people’s suffering transformed into a nation. For Christians it is the suffering of God transformed into new life for humanity. (Sadly I cannot mention every major religion).

For Cleveland fans, our suffering has been transformed. The pain and hurt of The Drive, The Shot, Red-Right 88, etc., no longer holds us in its grip. The King has broken its sting.

But who we are today has been forged by that pain. We are stronger as a city and a fan base. Our character as long-suffering, faithful fans who persevere through hard times has been purified by the fire of hardship.

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Sports and religion have their icons. An icon is a window into another world. People see the unleavened bread, the crucifixion or any icon of choice and are transported into a new world – a world where pain is transformed into new life.

The “jersey” is the icon of Cleveland Browns fans. Yes, at one point it may have been the symbol of “bad juju”. But it has now become a window through which we as fans can see back into a time that once was but is now transformed.

The “jersey” may be retired. But it will forever be a part of Cleveland sports history. We should not let it simply go away or stop making appearances at the Brokaw Inc. window.


We must care for our icons. We must preserve the stories they tell, both good and bad, about our lives as Cleveland fans. If only there were a place that honored the game of football, preserved its history, promoted its values and celebrated excellence.

But there is such a place. It is the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The “jersey” should forever be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The history of football is as much the history of players, coaches and owners as it is the history of its fans.

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Since 1999, the history of Browns fans has been told on a “jersey” with 24 quarterback names on it. The “jersey” should take its rightful place as an icon of suffering transformed into new life. It should take its rightful place in Canton, Ohio.