The Haslamic state (of confusion)

I must admit to becoming a bit more confused with each passing year at the lack of outrage from the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. I mean, one would think the “honeymoon” phase of the Jimmy and Dee Haslam ownership – now in its second decade – should be over, right?

I mean, the criteria for being a “loyal” fan does not include blind stupidity, does it?

Just for grins, I sometimes entertain myself by visiting Browns Backer sites (easily found on most social media outlets). Check them out sometime; you’ll get a kick out of them. I mean it.

It’s always humorous to see the reactions – not to mention the potpourri of juicy expletives that will accompany any post that criticizes the Browns organization – but the lengths people go to condemn one who has the audacity to cause a rift on the Good Ship Jimmy Dee.  

Typically, you will be told to take your bleeping comments elsewhere, because, you see, if you’re not with us, you’re against us. I’m paraphrasing, but the message is generally so crystal clear that there is no other logical translation.

So why is it that – as loyal football fans (and, surprise, surprise, I count myself as a member of that group) – the general fan base cringes at the mere suggestion that the team, well, stinks?

For years, I held the suspicion that many fans subconsciously feared that any form of negativity directed at the football team – be it factual negativity or not – reinforced the possibility that the city might once again lose its football team.

Perhaps there was some truth to that early on, but the “old” Browns said adios more than a generation ago. A significant portion of folks that witnessed the departure of the “old” Browns on Art Modell’s midnight train to Baltimore back at the end of the 1995 season are no longer walking the earth with us, so those who may have harbored the “They’ll take our team again” mentality are shrinking (rapidly) in numbers, so that can’t be it.  

For more than a quarter of a century, we’ve had some of the worst football imaginable, a stretch of ineptitude unparalleled in the NFL – especially since the implementation of the draft, intended to be the “great equalizer” – (unless, of course, you trade away that possibility).

So tell me, fans, why it is so difficult to challenge a football team’s ownership that has shown time and again it hasn’t a clue as to the proper way to build a successful franchise? I need to know.

It’s funny, too, because the fan base here was brutal with Art Modell before he moved the team, and Modell’s “bad” teams are still far superior to Haslam’s “good” (and we all know I use that term loosely) teams.

And perhaps that’s the very reason the fans cut Jimmy the degree of slack that Art never received: Fans held Modell to a much higher standard since he owned the last Browns championship team in 1964. He was always measured against that success. 

After a quarter century of mostly “nowhere to go but up” Cleveland Browns football, its fans have forgotten how to demand more than mediocrity.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 15, Issue 19, Posted 9:12 AM, 10.17.2023