A Baltimore guy hoping Cleveland football fans taste success? Really?

December 31, 2013 | Drew Forrester

“How many of us have conflicts with someone else- and how many of us pray for that person? We have individuals with whom we are competitive, or whom we dislike or have a quarrel with; but very few of us have true enemies in the martial sense. And yet if Lincoln could pray fervently- and contemporary reports indicate he did- for the people who were opposing him, how much more can we do for someone we just find a little irritating?” — John Wooden

As 2013 merges into 2014, I look at that quote from the great UCLA basketball coach and I wonder, “Is there someone I consider a rival or an enemy, even, that I believe deserves prayer and good fortune?”

Yes, there is.

I don’t consider football fans in Cleveland to be my “enemy”, per-se.  They’re much more of a rival, really, in the traditional sense of city-to-city support for our respective sports teams.  That said, because of the situation involving the transfer of the Browns to Baltimore in 1996, we’ve probably considered ourselves enemies if for no other reason than we stole their football team and then clenched our fists when those in Cleveland took us to task for it.

After all, in Baltimore, we’ve “been there, done that” when it comes to having a team swiped from us.  Our cries and outrage?  Laughed at by those folks in Indianapolis who were just glad to have a team.

The firing of Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland and the press conference yesterday — where the owner of the team looked outrageously out-of-touch with reality — got me to thinking about the football fans in Northeast Ohio.

I realized, with sadness, that football fans in Cleveland are just like baseball fans here in Baltimore.

Saddled with a poor philosophy that seems almost magnetized to losing, the folks who cheer for the Browns haven’t tasted a Super Bowl win (or, trip, even) since — well…since forever.

Our baseball team hasn’t been to a World Series since 1983.

Cleveland football fans haven’t seen their team play in the biggest football game in the world — EVER.

The baseball organization in Baltimore, save three years since 1993, hasn’t been competitive for nearly 20 seasons now.  Along the way, they’ve embarrassed us, poked at us, infuriated us and, most agonizing of all, used our resources to pad their pockets and make us suffer through year after year of bad baseball.

But if you think we’ve had it bad in Baltimore – baseball wise – it pales in comparison to what they’ve experienced in Cleveland since 1996.

The football fans there lost their team.  It wasn’t because they did something wrong.  Like us, in Baltimore, they woke up one morning and the newscast said “Browns leaving Cleveland”.  And that was it.

Three years later, football started again in Cleveland.

They had a sprinkling of success early in the last decade, but for the most part, it’s been nothing but embarrassment in Cleveland as it relates to the Browns.

Yesterday, of course, they fired their head coach after giving him one season in charge.

He joins the long list of coaches they’ve had in Cleveland over the last decade.

In Baltimore, since 1996, there have been THREE head coaches, period.  Marchibroda, Billick and Harbaugh.

In Cleveland, since 1999, they’ve had Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmer and yesterday’s departed, Rob Chudzinski.

The people in Cleveland deserve better from the football organization.

Just like the people in Baltimore deserve better as it relates to the baseball franchise we’ve supported since the late 1950’s.

If you’re a man or woman of faith and you believe in the power of prayer, it would be kind of cool for you to throw one or two the way of the football fans in Cleveland as 2014 begins and another season of losing football starts to disappear in the rear view mirror of 2013.

I’m going to do it, for sure.

I don’t necessarily want the Browns to be better than the Ravens, but that, in and of itself, is completely out of my control.

Instead, I’ll just privately hope those football fans in Cleveland get to experience some of the joy we’ve experienced in Baltimore with our football franchise.

And, of course, I’ll continue to hope that someday soon, our baseball organization in Baltimore rivals the football franchise in terms of class, integrity and on-field success.

Above all, though, in 2014, I truly hope the people of Cleveland get some sort of reward for their years of support for a franchise that, frankly, probably doesn’t even deserve it.

If John Wooden says it’s OK, it must be.


8 Comments For This Post

  1. Dan Says:

    Like citizens of a Country, we get the “leaders” we deserve (B.O.) , Football Fans, like those in Clevland , get the teams THEY deserve. Poor football teams , or any sports team , Baseball , Soccer , etc. are bad because of Owners and managers, or Head Coaches . True Leaders in sports , like Lombardi , Chuck Knoll , Joe Gibbs , Bill Walsh ,etc. are few and far between , ( and John Wooden ) There aren’t to many guys like that around these days .

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    I commend your thoughts going out to the Browns fans. True they have never played in a Superbowl. The last NFL championship they won was ironically against the Baltimore Colts! I was 7 years old then.My father always told me about the powerhouse that was the Paul Brown Browns. He saw them destroy opponents in the All America Conference and then in the NFL.Otto Graham won 7 titles between 2 leagues. The coaching tree that came out of Paul Brown included Webb Ewbank,Don Shula,and even Bill Walsh in Cincinnati.And think Brian Billick was a Walsh disciple too.However,when it comes to the current Browns getting better I hope they stay in football hell for many years to come.Happy New Year Baltimore Sports fans!

  3. Robert Says:

    Good thoughts. I pity & empathize with Pittsburgh Pirates fans too for many of the same reasons. Fans of marginal & miserable sports teams are in a no win situation. If they don’t financially support their team, they risk losing the team to another city. If fans do financially support their team, the team’s owners have little incentive to improve. Cheers.

  4. The Armchair QB Says:

    Nice post, Drew, but the reality in Cleveland is that they HAD a great owner in Art Modell, who built a successful franchise, but when times and finances demanded a new facility, it was the city and state that let the fans down, NOT Modell! Arguably, his move provided the impetus for the political climate change in Cleveland. From my perspective, as long as Cleveland and their fans continue to harbor resentment for Modell, I will continue to ENJOY their franchise failures!

  5. tsnamm Says:

    I commend your charity Drew…however I feel like some of the others here they can stay in the toilet. Especially after my dealings with some Browns fans. Other than that the only thing I would point out as a difference between Baltimore and Cleveland’s losing team experience, is that the NFL couldn’t get a team back into Cleveland fast enough, and they had a team back in 3 years, Baltimore was told to “go build a museum” by the commissioner of the NFL. So I’m not so sorry for poor, poor Cleveland.

  6. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Don’t hold your breath about the O’s getting some class & integrity while Angelos is the owner! The O’s bottom line is only about making money & how much, without caring for what the fan’s think !!! CHEERS TO ALL , Happy New Year !!!

  7. Chuck Says:


    This is a nice perspective. Good thoughts.

    But, the overwhelming number of people in Baltimore smugly look down at the Browns. And to a large extent, that opinion is well deserved. But, Baltimoreans largely live in a local media bubble that is almost incapable of divorcing themselves from the local narrative. It is not our birthright here to always be superior to the Browns.

    How many people in Baltimore have mocked “The Bungles” over the last 15 years and concluded that Baltimore and Pittsburgh will always be the class of the division? Even right before the Baltimore-Cincinnati game a few days ago so many people here concluded that the Bengals would revert to their history and figure out a way to lose the game irrespective of the uncomfortably clear fact that Cincinnati under Duke Tobin has drafted far better than the Ravens’ front office over the last few years. And the Bengals have played this season without their best player.

    For those of us in Baltimore who look down at the state of the Browns consider:
    -The Browns have more pro bowl starters than Baltimore: 5 (Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and Joe Haden). KC had 6 starting pro bowlers in 2012.
    -Cleveland has the 2nd youngest roster in the NFL and has the ability to get even younger given the draft picks they have in the up-coming draft.
    -The Browns have ten picks in the ’14 draft, including 3 in the top 35.
    -The team is not under the cap constraints of many other teams with approximately $40 million under the cap entering ’14 (Baltimore has $70.9 million of the cap allocated to just 6 players).

    Your sentiment is a VERY noble one but it also represents a widely held local belief that Cleveland, given its past, will always be a joke. Things don’t always have to be the way they were and are. That is the kind of perspective that could have people in Baltimore two years from now scratching their heads and confused as to why the Browns may be a ten win team, particularly if they draft the right QB with one of their high picks and get the right coach. Remember, one of Cleveland’s four wins this season was against Baltimore with a 3rd or 4th string QB.

    Happy New Year!

  8. unitastoberry Says:

    Chuck you may be right all they need is the next super star QB. But I hope not!

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