It's never really fun being a Browns fan, but these are particularly dark days. The new owner, delivered to rescue us from a quirky mismanaging scion who didn't want to own the team, became the target of a federal investigation less than a year after he bought the franchise. Jimmy Haslam was supposed to bring a new day, hope for all, and some stability to a franchise he was going to return to glory. Now? With increasingly higher-level executives of his company flipping and making deals, we're likely nearing the full weight of the federal government train barreling through the owner's box.
In addition to possibly being a crook, the new owner put his full, and blind, faith in Joe Banner, a grumpy man who appears to have made enemies in every corner of the football universe. In turn, Joe Banner put his weight behind Mike Lombardi, an already once-failed Browns GM who left his previous engagements discussing scheme and make-up of Italian restaurant menus on Bill Simmons' podcast to return to Cleveland.
After 14 years of nonpareil embarrassment, this triumvirate spent the past month dragging the franchise to a new low, which didn't seem possible given the previous parade of owners, GMs, and coaches. Following a month-long search full of rebuffs and interviews with the likes of Greg Schiano, the Browns hired their fourth or fifth choice to be their new coach, replacing their third or fourth choice from just a year prior.
Since it was reincarnated in 1999, this is a franchise that's had their field overrun with beer bottle litter during a game, drafted one underwhelming first rounder after another, battled staph infection problems, lost a star tight end to injury because he was doing motorcycle stunts, forced the NFL to update concussion polices because they sent a brain injured Colt McCoy right back onto the field, employed a coach who said he was flipping a coin to decide a starting QB, employed an actual executive and GM that emailed fans "Fuck you, go root for Buffalo," and paid out tens of millions to a revolving door of coaches and personnel people after they were told to leave, including one GM who was scandalously let go and escorted off team property just eight weeks into his first season on the job. There are plenty more lowlights packed into those years since 1999, and I didn't even want to travel down the endless road of on-field failures and embarrassing losses.
And yet, now, this, this bungling of a franchise that struggles to fill one of 32 reputedly exclusive jobs and is left scrambling to find assistants who will contaminate themselves in the radioactivity -- this is the lowest the team's status has dipped since 1999. This is the lowest, most frustrating, and darkest time for fans.
So, no, it's not a great time to be a Browns fan -- diehard, apathetic, casual, removed, or otherwise. The future is bleak and to expect a winning team any time soon, under the current trio in power, is lunacy.
But that's why Joe Haden is here, to cheer you up in these despairing times. Haden, who's actually not bad at football, enjoys Cleveland, and embraces the fans, decided he would offer one Browns fan two free tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII and pay for the flight to New York City.
How about it Browns fan, go enjoy yourself in the NYC and take in the biggest spectacle in American sports, a once-in-a-lifetime offer with free first class airfare on the house, courtesy of one of your favorite Browns. What do you say? (via instagram/Joe Haden)
...I politely declined. I told him I that I wanted my first time to be when the Browns played.
(h/t to the good folks at WaitingForNextYear)
(GIF via KSK)