I’m from Ohio where we cheer for several different sports teams, collegiate and professional. One of these teams is from the city Cleveland. They play in the National Football League, and they are called the Browns. The Browns are so consistently terrible at the game of football that they are really due for an iconic sports movie turnaround where somehow, some small but seemingly negative change is made and it leads to an improbable run to glory.
When watching the Browns in a bar I always marvel at the sheer number of jerseys my fellow fans have now had to cycle through over the ages. As a grown adult who stopped purchasing athletic jerseys sometime during the Clinton administration, I see the great folly of purchasing sports jerseys manifested by Browns fans. Now there are people wearing Trent Richardson and Brandon Weedan jerseys, having replaced in no particular order Peyton Hillis, Colt McCoy, Brady Quinn, and—dare I say—even Jeff Garcia jerseys. Where do these jerseys go? Are they all in the same landfill somewhere? Is there a population of young Congolese children staffing some kind of failed fantasy team of ex-Browns? And was a Tim Couch jersey ever actually produced, and if so how do I get one so I can wear it ironically?
The only Browns jersey that makes sense is your basic Bernie Kosar. That’s just good form.
What I know is that the Browns surely must be the sorriest sports franchise in the entire United States and possibly the universe. It’s not just that the team is always bad, though they are. My buddy Brian made a preseason bet of $100 that the Browns would win five games, but it could be well into October that we’re still looking for our first. It’s not just that our primary division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have enjoyed a relative dynasty over the last decade, winning Superbowls and perpetually fielding a tough, professional team with only one alleged rapist playing a pivotal role. It’s not just that we are also twice a year forced to play the Zombie Browns, a shameful reminder that our team was once absconded with. It’s not that the franchise is most famous for being on the receiving end of classic plays like “The Drive” and never the perpetrator of them.
It’s that the Browns hold the last championship win by a professional Cleveland sports team. It was in 1964. Before the Superbowl was invented. Couple this with the economic reality that the entire Northeastern region of Ohio has been bleeding jobs and prosperity like an open wound, and, well, frankly that movie writes itself.
Because if there isn’t a script for an iconic cliché-riddled sports movie in there, you must not be paying attention to either sports or movies. What the Browns should do now as an organization is not try to beef up the defensive line or (and this is a radical idea) go pay a decent receiver who can catch a motherloving pass every now and then—no. We should be trying to identify the most useful sports cliché available on our roster and implement that posthaste.
Now I’m not sure what this cliché might be. Perhaps we should throw third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis in hopes that he will turn into an improbable Willie Beaman-style superstar. Maybe Cleveland should hold open tryouts for players like “Invincible” in order to recruit some down-on-his luck Lunchpail Joe as a special teams fan favorite. It would possibly be helpful to just take third-string everyone and week by week play them all in case one of them holds our magic storyline.
More likely we should have just outbid Washington for RG3, and I mean including selling off everything that wasn’t bolted down in the city of Cleveland. Send them the scrap metal from the streetlights if that’s what it took. Unfortunately, sports movie clichés only exist because 98% of the time, the teams with the most talented and athletic overpaid millionaires actually win.