With their minuscule playoff hopes squashed by the week 16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns and their loyal fans turn their attention to week 17 and a road game in Cincinnati against the 1-14 Bengals. There we will have pride on the line, and perhaps a shot at worsening Cincinnati’s standing in the 2020 NFL Draft with a loss. (Is this a game with a built-in silver lining?)
However, I am not ready to shake off the loss to Baltimore, not just yet, anyway. Games like this are the ones that cause an existential crisis in my life. I want so badly to find a way to defend what seems indefensible; to make the loss hurt less since we are far past the point of making anything better for the 2019 season.
This loss felt particularly bad because I dragged my bronchitis ridden body out of bed to cheer on my team. Oh, and those two touchdowns in two minutes were pretty awful to watch, even with medication.
When the Browns lose, I usually must answer to a collection of people who either don’t like football or have a less rabid devotion to the team than me.
It is from their dark sarcasm and the relentless question, “why do you watch?” that I find a way forward. I dig deep and realize that I love this team even when they look so unlovable, like during the dark days of the 0-16 season. The feeling is there on the great days like when Baker brought us our first win in 635 days. And now when the team that was pumped full of hype before the start of training camp is stumbling over itself, the devotion stays.
In answer to the question I posed in the title, this season has not been all fun, yet it has had some fun moments. It also has not been the abysmal dumpster fire that some claim, but we saw our share of ugly.
So as we close out the 2019 season, which has featured a clown car full of misguided media members and at times has left me feeling gutted like a walleye on the shore of Lake Erie, I will do the same thing I’ve done since the late 1970s. Square my shoulders, put my head down and follow my blockers into 2020. What about you, Browns’ fans?