I think about the investment I’ve made, and it makes me furious.
I lived through the 1970s, when the team was a shadow of the domination over the two decades that preceded. I endured the 1980s and the early 1990s, when the team came agonizingly close, over and over and over. I stuck by what was left of the team when it was uprooted and hauled off to Baltimore.
And, since the Cleveland Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, I’ve stood by my team, even as it’s cemented its reputation as the laughingstock of the league.
That most recent stretch has been the toughest. Disengaged owners, one of whom was instrumental in moving the team to Baltimore. Coaches who had no idea what they were doing. Incompetent front office leadership, drafting bust after bust after bust.
And, to the surprise of no one, on-field performance that barely passed as professional.
Last year gave me reason for hope. The team was better; there was real talent — some anyway — in place of the castoffs and head cases that had populated previous rosters. Sure, there was a coaching change at the end of the year, but it came with good reason — we got ourselves a new owner.
Jimmy Haslam knows football. Before buying the team in Cleveland, Haslam was a minority owner for the Stillers, a team that, uh, has a decent track record with personnel and coaching staff decisions. He said all the right things, too, pledging that the Browns would turn around, quickly and decisively.
I couldn’t wait, for the draft, for training camp and for the season.
And then, yesterday, I read this.