I admit it. I am in an unhealthy relationship, toxic even. It’s like an arranged marriage set up by my family when I was very young, and I can’t get out. I’m stuck. Despite them leaving me in 1995 and despite the horrible product they continue to put on the field year after year, I still love the Cleveland Browns. I mean, I more than love them. I don’t miss a game, pre-season or regular (they never make the playoffs, so no worries there), and I regularly make the two and a half hour drive to that city on the lake to watch them play at home. It would be one thing to watch my team play in a stadium that’s located in a city with beautiful weather, in say San Diego, but no, I watch my team play outdoors in Cleveland, Ohio. Two out of the last three homes games I’ve attended, it has rained or hailed, on top of it being cold and windy. Heck, before the start of the game a few weeks ago, I even saw a tornado. Ok, so it was technically a water spout over the lake, as the locals informed me, but tornado sounds so much more dangerous.
The weather might be worth sitting through if the Browns won, but as you know, they don’t. In fact, they are 0-5, have lost their last eleven games, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 (where, of course, they lost in the first round). As if all of that isn’t enough, I typically get to listen to the opposing team’s fans cheer in my team’s stadium after the Browns lose, then I get to drive the two and a half hours back home. To add insult to injury, I’ve also been harassed by Steeler fan neighbors when I’ve finally gotten home from a game. Sigh.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same result, so I think it’s official-I’m insane. The irony of all of this is that I am a mental health therapist by trade. Yes, you read that correctly, a mental health therapist. I could make a killing doing business in that stadium. The amount of anger I witness at any given Browns game is unparalleled. Not only are the fans understandably angry, some of the staff are even on edge. While recently standing in line at half-time to get a mug of hot chocolate, I thought the guy working the concession stand was going to come across the counter after a customer standing right in front of me remarked that it looked like he needed some more help, as the line was moving painfully slow. The worker responded by yelling at the customer then proceeded to roll up his sleeves. Fortunately, one of the other employees was able to convince him to drop it. I mean, I knew the Dawg Pound, where I sit, is hostile, but the concession line? You know things are bad when you have to worry about the behavior of stadium employees.
Unfortunately, this article is just a snippet of the misery and heartache that Browns fans alike have had to endure for the past several years. My hope is that after reading this, my fellow Browns fanatics don’t feel quite so alone in their craziness, as even a professional mental health therapist like myself suffers from this thing called insanity when it comes to the Cleveland Browns. As local comedian Mike Polk, Jr. famously said last season to Cleveland Brown Stadium (after calling it “a factory of sadness”), “see you next Sunday.”