Cleveland Browns: Fans must stay loyal during current rebuild

Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns fans cheer against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns fans cheer against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 33-27. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Even with an 0-5 record to begin the season, one writer urges Cleveland Browns fans to stay loyal as this franchise attempts its latest rebuild.

Many of us have found ourselves at a crossroads in the midst of this lateset rebuilding process being undertaken by the Cleveland Browns. We have suffered through five losses, endured constant ridicule and mocking for the team we root for and felt rejected and alone at times. Still, so many of us remain passionate, loyal and confident that our team’s fortunes will soon turn around.

But after almost two decades of thinking this way with few positive results, many are left to wonder if it will ever turn around. As a natural result, a lot of former Browns fans have either abandoned the team, or found a different team to root for. This, in short, is bandwagoning.

We all saw how many Patriots fans were in the stands at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, and heard the chants of “Brady! Brady!” engulf the lower bowl. Surely, thousands of people could not have come all the way from Boston. While there is no proof that fans are jumping off, there is evidence to indicate this trend.

But even with all the losing, Browns fans must stay loyal, even through this difficult time. All professional sports organizations have gone through these. It’s the Browns though that seem to continually be rebuilding. While this is disappointing and often frustrating, it is no reason to stop being passionate about this organization which is doing everything they can to turn the team around.

The Browns aren’t cursed, they have just been the victim of various different bizarre coincidences which have led to losses and more sadness. The team still exists, and will for an indefinite period of time. They will still compete, and judging by the past five games as a whole, have the potential to win at the NFL level. They just need consistency from areas which have been wildly inconsistent for years. This, of course, is referring especially to their coaching and quarterbacking, two areas which have proved to be vital in the long-term development of any football team.

It can turn around quickly though. Cleveland fans have witnessed this firsthand, with the emergence of championship contenders in the Cavaliers and Indians. Many of us lose sight of how fortunate we are to have two out of three professional teams competing at the highest level within their leagues. Of course, this is no excuse for the Browns’ continual failure to rebuild successfully, but it is a testament to just how quickly a sports organization can recover from long-term instability.

But in the meantime, what do us fans do? It’s a difficult pill to swallow, losing every game in such heartbreaking fashion. The pit we all develop in our stomachs every Sunday afternoon at around four in the afternoon is a much too established feeling. But the only thing worse than being a Browns fan is being a bandwagoning Patriots, Seahawks or Broncos fan.

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The transformation usually starts with a disgruntled fan choosing to have a second team to root for, “on the side,” so to speak. But what happens very quickly is this second team takes over, since the Browns are naturally much less appealing. As a result, the Browns lose fans, and half of the lower bowl is wearing red and blue on Sunday afternoon instead of brown and orange.

Nobody knows exactly how many fans have abandoned the team. But what we do know is that it really stinks to be a bandwagoner. All they do is constantly chase wins, never satisfied, always greedy. They love the excitement of football, but as their current team starts to fade, the guilt and shame builds up inside. These people are too insecure to hold on to a team through thick and thin. Don’t be deceived Browns fans, when you see a bandwagoning Patriots fan cheering, what you don’t see is how they feel inside. It stinks to be them.

And just imagine when the Browns do actually turn it around. The long-suffering will be over, and due to the unimaginable length of it, it will be even more fulfilling. Bad times make good times better.

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So stay loyal, Browns fans. Keep going to the games every Sunday. Keep becoming so invested in the game that it hurts to lose. Someday, it will all pay off. Bandwagoners won’t be around to enjoy it, as they will only be frantically searching for the next best team. But you will, because your loyalty will have paid off. And when it happens, it will be one of the most rewarding feelings you will ever experience.