I’m the Cleveland Browns’ worst nightmare … a fan without hope.
This team zapped my positive outlook. It’s gone.
Oh, the 2013 campaign started well enough. I had many reasons for optimism: a new coach, a good defense, a QB who was no longer a rookie, a No. 1 pick at running back!
Even two losses to start the season didn’t kill my enthusiasm.
I’m a Browns fan, after all.
Then my team started winning … three in a row. At 3-2, a playoff berth was still a dream, a possibility.
We were headed in a positive direction.
We traded Trent Richardson, and I was OK with that, one of the few who immediately deemed it a great trade.
The Brandon Weeden experiment finally proved fruitless enough the coaches went another way. I was OK with that, too.
Brian Hoyer looked like the next coming of Brian Sipe. He may not be the Browns’ future, but he was better than advertised … and certainly better than Weeden. Then he got hurt .. the first of many cruel blows to Browns’ fans.
Rob Chudzinski turned to Jason Campbell, who also was better than advertised … and certainly better than Weeden. Then Campbell got hurt.
Another knife in the back.
And back to Weeden we went.
We can’t seem to get off the QB merry-go-round … and I’m getting dizzy.
Losses to the Lions, Packers and Chiefs followed our three-game win streak.
As Yogi Berra said: “It’s deja vu all over again.”
But a beat-down victory over the hated Baltimore Ravens breathed some life into my damaged psyche. There remained a glimmer of optimism in my soul.
Which led to a Nov. 17 showdown with the equally-repulsive Cincinnati Bengals.
Browns fans were ripe for a win. I was salivating over a possible playoff berth. Were times a-changing?
Of course not.
The Browns laid an egg. Not just a chicken egg, but a colossal egg, an egg any Tyrannosaurus Rex would be proud of. The biggest egg laid by a Browns team in years. After a bye-week to prepare, my team didn’t even show up. They were dismal in a disheartening 41-24 loss.
I turned a corner after that loss. I entered a dark place. I gave up. I threw in the proverbial towel. I decided to take after Roberto Duran. “No mas! No mas!”
My attitude, my philosophy.
Subsequent losses to the Steelers and Jaguars didn’t bother me a bit.
Cleveland lost again Sunday, to the New England Patriots, in spectacular fashion. I wasn’t even angry. I wasn’t even surprised. There was not a profanity uttered in my home Sunday. I just walked to the kitchen and finished the dishes.
I’ve changed my thinking about Cleveland Browns football. And I’m a happier person for it.
Now, I expect the worst.
From that perspective, this team rarely disappoints.
If the worst doesn’t happen, I’m OK with it. I came up with an idea for a Browns bumper sticker. It will read something like this “Browns fan: No expectations, no disappointments!” I’ll make millions.
I feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy keeps pulling away that football.
I used to scream at my TV on Sundays. Every time the Browns found another way to lose, I screamed “Aaugh!”
I’ve accepted my lot in life. As a Browns fan, I’m doomed forever. I will never again see a successful team on the shores of Lake Erie.
But my eternal optimism still is clawing to get out. I can’t help it. After all, I am a Browns fan. I have the wrinkles and frown lines to prove it.
So I started to look deeper.
The Browns are a horrific football team, in terms of their win-loss record. They are tops in the league in finding creative ways to lose. It’s always something truly unique.
Still, they are just two players — well, two positions — from being a contender: quarterback and running back.
The defense is among the best in the league. The offensive line is better than average. Josh Gorden and Jordan Cameron are among the best at their positions. There is a core here. Something to build upon.
Hoyer and Campbell are serviceable, which with our defense may be good enough. But I’m not ready to put my eggs in the Hoyer basket just yet. Next year we need a QB … a healthy QB. A running back would be a bonus.
The other pieces are already in place.
I’m a Chudzinski fan. My hope is gone for 2013. But my hope for next season is sky high.
Unfortunately, I said the same thing at the end of 2012, and 2011, and 2010, and so on, and so on and so on.