The west end zone of Cleveland Browns Stadium, which is the end zone opposite the famous Dawg Pound, is commonly known as either “The Kennel” or “Believeland;” however, the entire stadium on Sunday versus the Cincinnati Bengals fittingly felt like Believeland, as the Browns finally got the monkey off their back with their first victory of the season.
For the first time in a few years that stadium was rocking. In fact, I think it was the loudest I’ve heard it since the overtime loss to the New York Jets in 2010. Unfortunately, many season ticket holders, (at least in the Pound) were noticeably absent. They apparently had sold their tickets after the team’s dismal 0-5 start, which unfortunately is a practice that has become all too common around Browns town.
After that painfully embarrassing Bills game which felt more like a Buffalo home game, I was worried that the seats would be littered with Bengal fans. After all, prior to kickoff tickets were being sold outside the stadium for all of ten bucks a piece to sit in the Dawg Pound. Talk about embarrassing. Instead, to my pleasant surprise, it appeared that most had sold their tickets to other Browns fans, and the stands were filled.
The game began the way the first four games of the Browns season had begun-with one three and out after another for the offense-and with fans screaming angrily at the head coach, but this one had a different ending. With the new owner set to officially take over on Tuesday and the fresh, excited faces in the Pound, mixed with some of the forever faithful, there was an energy present that had been painfully missing for the last several home games. That energy seemed to swirl throughout the stadium just like the strong winds that blew through all afternoon. Those who spend their Sundays devoted to the Browns were at last rewarded with the long awaited “w,” and it felt so good. Fans who have never stopped believing were hugging and high-fiving one another like the Browns had just won a trip to the Super Bowl. Though to most outsiders it may seem like only one win in an otherwise dismal season thus far, on this Sunday fans left with the feeling that maybe, just maybe, one day that elusive feat will be accomplished in Cleveland. Hopefully, they won’t stop believing. I know I won’t.