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Sports Then and Now

My Football Mistress: The Cleveland Browns

Posted on August 30, 2009 by Joe Gill

Cup of Joe-mainDear Tom Brady and the New England Patriots,

I am cheating on you with the Cleveland Browns. Our relationship started in the mid 80’s. I fell in love with Bernie Kosar, Clay Matthews, Frank Minnifield, Hanford Dixon, Webster Slaughter, and Earnest Byner. I loved their logo less helmets, their pets in the Dawg Pound, and their heartbreak.

They lost to John Elway in the1986 AFC Championship because of “The Drive”. “The Fumble” by Earnest Byner in the 1987 AFC Championship ripped all Browns fans’ hearts out and stomped them to death. However, I was still there for them and lent them my shoulder to cry on.

The Denver Broncos were yet again in their way to the Super Bowl in 1989. However, my beloved Browns were no match for the demons from Denver. Cleveland sank into sorrow 37-21.

I stuck with them. I followed them during their fruitless days during the early 1990’s. Bill Belichick, the future builder of the New England Dynasty, was at the helm but couldn’t steer the sinking ship.

I fell in love with Bernie and the Browns

I fell in love with Bernie and the Browns

The day our love affair ended was on November 16, 1995. Art Modell drove a spike into my Cleveland love affair. They packed up everything and left without saying goodbye. One of the NFL’s most recognizable teams was now sleeping with the city of Baltimore as the “Ravens.”

They brought a lot to my life. My friend and I had friendly rivalries with the Steelers-Browns. Phone calls after Browns victories. Voodoo football cards after Rod Woodson was injured.  My friend’s son changing his brown clothes during a playoff game, causing the Browns to implode. Wearing Cleveland Browns gear to a Patriots game and almost getting thrown out for it. Oh the memories. We were good together.

Like an old flame, they returned to me in 1999. The love affair fires were stoked yet again. Thank you Ed Lerner.

The Browns have always been on my football radar. My mistress was still in my thoughts as I cheered my New England Patriots to three championships. I always hoped the best for them. I always wanted them to do well.

Romeo Crennel and Willie McGinest went to bring some of the championship makeover magic. After a promising 2007, they began to bring back the excitement when they caught my eye.

The honeymoon period soon ended in 2008. The Browns posted a 4-12 record with a merry go round at quarterback, the ball dropping of Braylon, and the absence of a defense. I felt bad for them. I loved them secretly of course.

Romeo was dumped and Eric Mangini has been brought in. I don’t feel good about Mr. Whistle Blower Mangini hanging out with my mistress.

Cleveland be well in 2009. I will always be thinking about you.

Yours secretly,

Joe Gill

Joe Gill is a life-long Patriots fan and a resident blogger for Sports Then and Now. His Cup of Joe column can be read each Tuesday and Friday on Boston Sports Then and Now and occasionally on the national Sports Then and Now site.

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