• The Cleveland Browns and the Impossible Dream

    Another article submitted by our own mkocs6:

    I'm writing this in the afterglow of the Browns' dominant victory over the Chiefs and in the wake of losses by Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, so please forgive my excitement and heroic hyperbole. We should not discount Cleveland's drubbing of Kansas City because it came against a 2-10 team, because we all know they couldn't have done that to ANYONE at any time in the last five years (except, you know, the Pats that one time).

    They've now won three in a row, and have a difficult--nay, impossible!--route to the playoffs still open to them. Before anything else, though, there are three games the Browns must win: one against the team that made a trade to get a player who was supposed to haunt us for decades, Washington; one against an ancestral nemesis once again led by one of the great quarterbacks of a generation, Denver; and one against the Great Enemy--with a chance for Cleveland's first season sweep in the series since 1988--Pittsburgh. Even if we cannot make it, what a chance exorcise demons! What an opportunity to announce our arrival as a force again, if only to wait for next year!

    I grew up in Cleveland and, being realistic for a moment, I'd like to echo Wright Thompson's incisive column on the place where I was born: there are two Clevelands. He is not the first person to make the observation; Anthony Bourdain observed something very similar when filming a 2007 episode of No Reservations in the city. Apart from the regrettable inclusion of Skyline Chili in its introductory scene, it's masterful work and you can get a taste of it here in his affectionate obituary of Cleveland author Harvey Pekar in 2010. There is a Cleveland of the past--where anything seemed possible--and of the present--where everyone feels at least somewhat resigned to defeat and decline. We're talking about political economy and culture as much as we're talking about sports. It's all felt like part of the syndrome, where the narrative of past, of prosperity, sneaks into the present only to see the intervention of reality, of recession. I've had dreams crushed, like everyone else there. This, of course, is not unique to Cleveland. It is my Cleveland, though. I've stared longingly at the Terminal Tower--for several decades, none of them in my lifetime, the tallest building in the world outside of New York City--against a blue sky and stared blankly at a frozen Lake Erie--once polluted beyond hope of recovery, in my father's youth, but now a vibrant Great Lake--at a bleak twilight. As that suggests, it's more complicated than the metanarrative suggests. Seemingly contradictory rises and falls coexist with each other.

    Sometimes I believe everyone thinks I'm something of a Don Quixote, wandering the football landscape and tilting at windmills. Perhaps I am playing that role, and while I lack a Sancho Panza, the city must be my Dulcinea. I've said it before, but Cleveland must be more than the sum of its sports teams. Cervantes's mind is sometimes impenetrable, but I have a feeling that here he would tell us that real battle rages elsewhere.

    I have to ask anyway. Fellow Browns fans, dare we dream...the IMPOSSIBLE DREAM?

    Comments 7 Comments
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      If this is what you write now, imagine what you'll write when the Browns are a good team!

      I love your passion. It's amazing how optimistic you manage to remain.

      Frankly, beating Charlie Batch, Oakland and KC wouldn't rev most people's engines. But three in a row is three in a row. And playing Kirk Cousins in Cleveland looks like 4 in a row, to me.

    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      For the record, the impossible dream is getting over the debilitating past, not making the playoffs.

      And, Wax, if we're going to stop being a crap team, we need to start beating crap teams consistently. There was something to recommend them in each of the win. A win against Pittsburgh is a win against one of the top defenses in the league, and I think questions about the Charlie Batch-ness of the victory disappeared when the Steelers won with him at Baltimore (since we would all conventionally assume that Baltimore, if not great, is much better than Cleveland). The Browns won on the west coast at Oakland, and a young team put together a 94-yard game-icing drive late in the 4th quarter. And they beat up Kansas City at won by the franchise's largest margin of victory since 2003. Now, they're not great, but there is something positive that's happening here. None of the wins has been cheap. They've led for most or all of the second half in each of three games.

      And, if they get Kirk Cousins, that's a shame. I was hoping RG3 would be healthy enough to be effective and to play. From my point of view, it would be a great way to measure the progress that's been made by the team this season.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Well, the team has climbed from "pathetic" to "average" which is in truth a huge progression.

      I temper my enthusiasm as I've seen similar scenarios before: a team that is out of it by mid-season starts to play well and ends the year on a high... only to begin the next season in the same way. Call it the "reverse Bills" action...

      However, something does feel different about this team. Like maybe, just maybe, there is light on the horizon.

      Combine a 7-9 record with a flushing out of the front office (and the coaching staff as well?) and I just may be wearing my Andre Rison #80 shirt once again.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      The Browns aren't as bad as they've made them look. They should have won the Eagles game, and at least 1 more.

      I have a soft spot for Cleveland. I hope they get it back, the mojo that was lost.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      However, something does feel different about this team. Like maybe, just maybe, there is light on the horizon.
      I agree. An identity is taking shape.

      wrt to Charlie batch, this was was his first game in how long?
    1. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
      While I respect the brownies fans and their faith, knowing the whole organization is getting blown up in 3 weeks, my comment is this...

      They beat a Steelers team with a 3rd string qb by ONLY 6. with 8 turnovers. They may be better, but they aren't good. They should have schellacked us by 21 with that many turnovers, minimum.
    1. mkocs6's Avatar
      Haslam could be talking out of his ass here, but this does not sound like a man who wants to blow up the entire roster and start over. The reason this feels different, I think, from something like what Mangini did is the fact that the team is so young. If you were to name the dozen or so most important contributors on the team, first-, second-, and third-year players would be well over half the total. They're beginning to put it together and win some games.

      Eight turnovers in the Browns--Steelers game is somewhat misleading. Three of them occurred in the final three minutes of play, when the Browns were attempting to run out the clock and preserve a victory. You could argue that maybe we should have scored more than 20 points with the previous five, but dropping the number eight in from a parachute isn't fair, either.