I don’t really know how to intro this properly. Part of being a Browns fan, or a Cleveland sports fan in general, is sticking to a certain set of unspoken rules. I wanted to find a way to represent those rules in a slightly humorous way, so I started working on this list. See if you agree.
1. Thou Shalt Love The Browns With All Thy Heart, No Matter How Many Times They Break It.
Part of being a Browns fan is total devotion to this team, no matter how little they may deserve it. There is a harshly enforced unspoken rule among Browns fans that we will all remain loyal to this team, regardless how many times they fail us. There is also a one “I’m done with this fucking team” per conversation rule. We all get to that point where we just kind of snap for a minute in frustration with this team, some of us at least once a week. And that’s okay, most other Browns fans will let one breakdown go per conversation. If you bring it up again though, be prepared for your fanhood to be called in to question.
2. Thou Shalt Hate Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and Direct Your Children In The Same Hate.
Ah football rivalries. Is there anything better in this game? As a Browns fan, it is your duty to despise those Squealers and the hated Ravens. With every bit of your soul, every fiber of your being, every ounce of your silent will, you have to devote it toward a burning desire to see those two teams fail, even more than you want to see the Brown win. And, as with all good religions, you need to raise your children to share the same rage towards those vile rivals of ours.
3. Thou Shalt Feel The Silent Dread Of Impending Doom.
Look, if you’ve been a Browns fan for more than five minutes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That inexplicable feeling deep in your gut that tells you something bad is going to happen. Experience had taught us that every good thing that comes our way in sports is only meant to build us up so we fall harder. We get LeBron, he leaves us on national television. We find a stud QB in Brian Hoyer, he tears his ACL. We get within a game of a Super Bowl, and that punk John Elway makes a deal with the devil and leads an impossible Drive to beat us. You KNOW these things are going to happen. Get used to that feeling in your belly, it’s not going anywhere.
4. Thou Shalt Curse Your Team, But Not Allow Others To.
Part of being a Browns fan is learning to make the best of a bad situation. And, frankly, if you’ve been a Browns fan at any time in the past 25 years or so, its been a bad situation. Pretty much consistently. And that’s okay. It’s okay to get mad, to cuss, to scream, to swear off this team and everything having to do with it. It’s okay to make jokes about the players, coaches, ownership, all day long. Having a good sense of humor is pretty essential for surviving this Browns fans life. That being said, we let NO ONE bad mouth our team. Oh, you’re a Steelers fan? Get the hell out of here. We don’t want your idiotic opinions on football, and we damn sure don’t want to hear you start rambling about six rings. Talk trash when you drop your sexual predator quarterback.
See what happened there? I’m writing an article kind of jabbing at my team, but the very idea of a fan from another team talking trash is a no go.
5. Thou Shalt Be Loud
At the stadium, at the bar, at Applebees, on the couch, it doesn’t matter. Get loud. If you’re at FirstEnergy and you’re not screaming/barking like a lunatic, you are wrong. Look, Cleveland needs to be a scary place to play. So, if you’re at a game, the rest of us are counting on you to be deafening when the Browns are on defense. While it is kind of funny, and it is going to make you look like a crazy person, it also could very well rattle an opposing quarterback, or get an opposing lineman to jump. So, have some fun, put on a stupid dawg mask, and bark like you mean it.
6. Thou Shalt Always Remember
I mean this both ways really. Good or bad, part of being a Browns fan is remembering the past. The thrilling come from behinds, the blowouts over the Steelers, the playoff games. And, in a weird way, we almost fondly remember the bad times. Now wait a second, I’m sure you’re making a face at me. I don’t mean fondly as in we enjoy that they happened, but rather that they kind of bond us together. I learned pretty early in my Army career that bad circumstances have a way of bonding people together, and years of suffering through horrible, tragic defeats and conspiracies, Browns fans share that together. Its almost like we’re a club. A club of war vets, all staring a thousand yards past any living person, into the realm of the Drive or the Move. We can still see it like it was yesterday. But don’t worry, that crazy man with a bone in his mouth in the Dawg Pound? He was there too. The North Remembers, and so do Browns fans.
7. Thou Shalt Hate Art Modell. Always.
November 6, 1995. The day Art Modell announced that the Browns were moving to Baltimore.
Yeah, I know he’s dead. And do you want to know something? I don’t care. I would usually avoid disrespecting a dead man like the plague, but Art is the exception. Why? Because fuck Art Modell, that’s why. I don’t need to tell fellow Browns fans what that scumbag did to us, so I won’t pick at a scab. I will say though, part of being a Browns fan is hating Art Modell. Even rotting in the ground Art.
8. Thou Shalt Be The Reason For The Browns
I couldn’t think of a way to title this one with what I was thinking, so let me explain. This re-existence of the Browns, the expansion era Browns, is a dreadful thing. They have been consistently irrelevant, consistently shitty at football, and consistently boring. The Browns of old, we feel their losses because they always mattered. They made playoff runs that ended in the most painful way possible. But they mattered. These Browns now though, they only matter because of the fans. The Dawg Pound is the reason these Browns exist (literally), and this team sucks so much (historically) that the only thing that gives them any dignity is that they have arguably the best fan base on the planet. The Browns fans are unflappable. They are rowdy, loud, loyal and stalwart. We stand beside the team that shares the name with the team that we used to love. In some weird way, its the fans of this team that hold them up, not the other way around. You will never find a more backwards relationship between a team and its fans than the one in Cleveland. And its because of how great the fans here really are.
9. Thou Shalt Be Prepared For The Worst
How many of you knew this was going to happen? Brian Hoyer will emerge as a potential star, then he’ll tear his ACL and be out for the rest of the season. Raise of hands. Okay, so maybe you aren’t psychic, but tell me you didn’t feel that SOMETHING was going to happen. It was too good to be true. A local kid, with a local coach, turning this crapstorm that has been the Browns for over two decades around? That’s Hollywood stuff man. Of course it couldn’t last. And I knew that. You knew that too, if you’re honest with yourself. Browns fans have come to just expect bad things to happen to this team, and we’re never left waiting long.
10. Thou Shalt Still Hope For Next Sunday/Next Season
I don’t know why I still do it. I knew the Browns were going to be awful to watch with Brandon Weeden back at QB. But I still got that hope in my belly, thinking it might still work out somehow. “Maybe he’ll stop sucking quite so badly” I said to no one in particular (I do my best thinking when I talk to myself), “He can’t REALLY be as bad as I think he is”. He is though, and I know that. But I still hope against hope that this team will shock me, will shock the world. And when all hope for this season is gone, we’ll turn to next year. Maybe we can get our QB in the draft. Maybe we can get a few key free agents. We’ll wait, and we’ll hope.
Welcome to being a Browns fan.
Shawn is an Army Sergeant, husband, dad and lead writer/publisher for Dawg Pound Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPounded.