It feels like I’ve been watching pro football from the moment I was discharged from my mother’s womb way back in 1958 and even though I moved to Columbus, Ohio over twenty years ago I still have New York Giants blue gushing through my veins. I doubt that’ll ever change. During that time I’ve also kind of adopted the Cleveland Browns as my second favorite team and I’ve come to realize I must be some kind of glutton for punishment.
"To call the Browns a circus would be an insult to circuses"
Sports Illustrated sportswriter Peter King
A lifelong Cleveland Browns fan and season ticket holder was dying of cancer a year or two ago. One of his last requests before he went to that Super Bowl in the sky was for members of the Browns team to act as his pallbearers. In his own words he stated that he wanted the team “to let him down one last time.”
Over the course of the years I’ve had the pleasure of making the acquaintance with plenty of Cleveland Browns fans at my local watering hole. They are among the most loyal and dedicated fans of any sports team that I’ve ever seen and come to the bar religiously every Sunday decked out in their Browns attire. There’s even a small doll in the shape of a “Dawg” that is placed behind the bar for every game that goes by the name of “Roofus” and whenever the Browns score the taps on the kegs behind the bar have been programmed to start flashing lights.
Unfortunately, over that time I’ve also had to witness the Browns games since their return to the NFL in 1999 and I’m here to tell you, the lights haven’t flashed that often and it hasn’t been pretty and I've seen grown men reduced to tears.
There’s only so many times you can repeat the refrain “wait until next year” before it starts to ring hollow. My friends deserve better.
How bad has it been?
Here’s a list of Browns coaches and their records since the team returned in 1999.
The team was led for 32 games by one Chris Palmer and under his leadership managed to win 5 games and lose 27 for a .156 winning percentage. It should be noted that Palmer probably shouldn’t shoulder all of the burden for those losses. Those years marked their first season back in NFL after a five year hiatus when the team was shipped to Maryland and is currently known as the Baltimore Ravens. To add insult to injury, the Ravens have gone on to win the Super Bowl twice while the Browns have yet to make an appearance.
Butch Davis took over the helm for 58 games and managed to win 24 games while dropping 34 for a .414 winning percentage. He was fired with six games remaining the 2004 season and was replaced by Terry Robiskie. During his stint Robiskie won a whopping one game and lost all the rest for a winning percentage of .167. It came as no surprise that his tenure would be short lived.
Enter Romeo Crennel who led the team for 64 games. During that time they won 24 and lost 40 for a winning percentage of .375. The front office had seen enough and gave him the boot after the 2008 campaign.
Next in line was Eric Mangini. During his tenure the Browns won 10 and dropped the other 22 for a winning percentage of .313. Rumor has it that the Browns fans began quoting William Shakespeare and his line “Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo” when Mangini was shown the door.
The Browns next welcomed aboard Pat Shurmer. He too only lasted two seasons and amassed a won/loss record of 9 and 23 for a winning percentage of .281. Nice knowing you Pat.
The Browns then hired Rob “Chud” Chudzinski. He was canned after last year when the team went four and twelve with a winning percentage of .250. To be fair to “Chud”, much of this was not his fault as the team was decimated by injuries and used at least three or four starting quarterbacks during the season. In addition to firing their head coach, the Browns also gave the General Manager and the CEO their walking papers earlier this week
I hope I’m wrong but it seems someone by the name of Mike Pettine has been designated as the next sacrificial lamb for the upcoming 2014 season. If you like long shots, the current odds of the Browns making next years Super Bowl are 75 to 1. We shall see.
Here’s just a few more signs of ineptitude that Browns fans have been forced to endure since the teams return.
The totals for 1999 through 2013 equal 77 wins against 161 losses and an average .300 winning percentage. That gives them the second worst record in football during that time. Thanks go out to the Detroit Lions for their continued lack of success during that period. The Browns have scored the fewest points in the league and been outscored by the most points since returning to the NFL. In addition, the Browns have been shut out 12 times since their return. No other team can make that claim.
Anybody familiar with pro football will tell you that the quarterback position is probably the most important one on the field. He represents leadership and calm while all else is collapsing around him. Apparently the Browns haven’t quite gotten that message. Since their return 19 people have tried the starting position and 19 people have failed. I couldn’t be bothered to list them since most of them have fallen into the scrapheap of obscurity.
Over the years the Browns most heated "rivalry" has been with Pittsburgh Steelers. Since 1969 that organization has been led by three coaches, gone to eight Super Bowls and won six of them. They are usually considered a lock to at least make the playoffs each and every year. In comparison, during that same time span, the Browns have had seventeen head coaches, none of whom have guided them to the Super Bowl. The two teams have met a total of 31 times since 1999 with the Steelers winning 26 times.
Just for fun I went to Google and typed in “Cleveland Browns jokes”.
I was rewarded with 18,900,000 results.
Let’s hope that 2014 and the years beyond treat the Browns fans better than the past few years have.
They’ve earned it.
Oh, one last thing. Unfortunately the dying Browns fan never had his wish fulfilled. The joke at the time was that family members were afraid that the Browns that were selected to act as pallbearers would "fumble" the casket.
All of the statisical stuff and records comes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cleveland_Browns_head_coaches
The rest comes from crying in my beer as the Brown Dawgs drop yet another.