I suppose it is getting to that time of year again, the time of year when the Browns’ regular season woes are a distant enough memory that they do not suppress a glass half full approach. Indeed, with Pettine in hand, the drama of a drawn out coaching search behind us, the Browns are freed from the criticism of the Cleveland area. I suppose this is mostly due to an unforgettably poor Cavs season, where despite their intentions to “contend” they will probably sit comfortably in the middle of the lottery.
It is quite possible that had the Cavaliers been within a stones throw of competence, the Browns would be receiving a more comprehensive media thrashing which is undoubtedly deserved. Dysfunction seems to be the modus operandi of Cleveland sports, yet for the Browns; an ownership group being targeted for fraud, firing a head coach after just one season and a continued failure to find a quarterback close to league average, made for an especially irritating season.
However, as I sit inside, escaping a winter which Jack London best described in The Call of the Wild; I am struck by how fascinated the Cleveland fan base is with optimism. Fascinated may not be an effective term but the “Waiting for Next Year” approach seems to have generally positive connotations at this point in the year.
The Browns impressive inadequacies have been quickly forgotten, and we are once again just a good draft as well as a few effective free agent signings away from contention. Of course this is somewhat true, the Browns are playing in a division with two fading giants in the Ravens and Steelers as well as a talented Bengals team hamstrung by a just ok quarterback in Andy Dalton.
One could argue that there is a whole in the marketplace (AFC North) which an up and coming team could conceivably exploit. In many ways there are some positives when it comes to the Browns. They have acquired a nice collection of assets including a draft deal for a third round pick with the Steelers, as well as an absolute fleecing of Indy in the Trent Richardson deal.
In terms of using assets, one has to be impressed with what the front office has done and has the potential to do this off-season.
After all this, the position of the division, immense assets both pick wise and financially as well as solid existing starters, this franchise has made me into a completely despondent and uninterested fan.
I simply don’t have it in myself emotionally to invest in such a dysfunctional, hopelessly crafted franchise. As I look at the big three, it astounds me that the Indians are treated as a second class citizens. I refuse to be excited on draft day in 2014. I refuse to watch the Browns lose close game after close game to mediocre opponent and say “well they are young”.
At the outset of the 2013 season the Browns had the second youngest roster in the NFL, the now Super Bowl Champion Seahawks had the fourth youngest.
This season/off-season of ridiculousness read like a Shakespearean tragedy and after 15 years back in the league, the Browns incompetence has pushed me from die hard to apathetic consumer.