The Cleveland Browns tickets arrived … and why it feels different this year
By Roger Cohen
The Cleveland Browns season tickets have arrived, but this year the pressure is off for the team to perform – at least until the games start for real.
For more than half a century – before there was FedEx and the mailman delivered them in a brown manilla envelope – I couldn’t wait to tear open the Cleveland Browns season ticket package.
When they arrived this week – without a “thank you for your $3,500 including two worthless exhibitions” hat, mug, mini-banner or cheesy Browns lapel pin – there was none of that annual anticipation or anxiety, just routine satisfaction. The package could have just as easily been printer ink from Amazon.
Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have ended the 52-year drought, gone is that “can the Browns squeak into the playoffs, get on a roll and win a SuperBowl before I die” magical thinking.
Admitting It might get me fired from this Dawg Pound Daily gig, but this fall I might even tune my satellite to this season’s last two Sunday Cleveland Indians games instead of the Browns – or, at a minimum, wear out the previous channel button on the remote.
No, I don’t love the Indians or Cavs more than the Browns who have remained No. 1 in my heart – from the Jim Brown/Leroy Kelly mini-dynasty, through the barren 1970s, Sam Rutigliano and Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar and Martyball, the pre-genius Bill Belichik era, The Move and Return. Through two dozen starting quarterbacks but only one playoff game since the turn of the Millennium.
Even today as we stand the unanimous, undisputed No. 32 in just about every pre-season NFL Power Ranking. That’s why I feel so differently about those tickets – two in Section 132 and two in the Dawg Pound – because, for the first time, I’m looking forward to the games just for the fun of them.
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Zero pressure. Zero. Less anxiety than even those early Return seasons when I held out some crazy notion that the Browns could enjoy expansion success like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Before reality – and Carmen Policy, Mike Holmgren, Phil Savage, Ray Farmer and more mediocre head coaches than I can name – got in the way. And late Al and Randy Lerner and Jimmy Haslam, who never seemed to care as much about the team as the fans do.
How much worse can 2016 be compared to last season’s 3-13, when many of us hoped for 8-8 or better? Any wins this year will be celebrated, sweeter if it’s a Hue Jackson “Welcome to Believeland” kick-off in Philadelphia against the Eagles, the home opener against the hated Baltimore Ravens, upsetting the New England Patriots in Tom Brady’s Parole Game. Or the ultimate, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Letting go by giving up the ghost of meaningful games post-Thanksgiving should make each Sunday watching the Browns fun, regardless of the outcome. That’s why I’m looking forward with joy for the 2016 season.
Next: Training camp preview: Right guard
Fun – that’s what it looks like in the middle of July or until that first Robert Griffin III interception.