I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
Sadly, I just don't think I care enough anymore to cry.
I was offered free seats, 40 yard line, 8th row for yesterday's game with the Broncos. I passed on them without even thinking about it, and was thanking the high heavens that I did so while watching from home. Sunday morning tailgating used to be a ritual for me. Now? I feel like a sheep about to be led to slaughter when down in the Muni Lot before games.
The Browns upcoming contest used to consume me. I would think about their game all week, and sustain a constant back and forth dialogue with friends and family about what we thought would happen. The second I woke up on Sunday mornings, I was downright giddy waiting for the start of the game. Now? Watching this team no longer excites me. I almost dread the start of the game.
Municipal Stadium used to provide our beloved warriors of the gridiron with a FIERCE home field advantage. Now? It's a sterile environment where standing up to cheer on your team is frowned upon, and it's filled with jaded, cynical, and beaten down fans. And the beer is twice as expensive and more watered down.
The Browns/Steelers rivalry was the best in all of pro sports for many years There was a genuine hatred between the fan bases. And that's the way I liked it. Now? Steeler fans no longer consider the series a rivalry, and their fans don't even dislike us anymore. They feel sorry for us. Making fun of the Browns and Browns fans right now is like sucker punching the slow kid that sat by himself in the lunch room at school.
The saddest part of this all is that we are still light years away from being a Super Bowl contender. LIGHT YEARS.
We are the worst team in football in the trenches, and that's no easy fix. The Steelers have drafted all nine of their offensive linemen. The Bengals have drafted six of theirs. The Ravens? Six also. The Browns have drafted one. Isaac Sowells. I've said it before, drafting offensive lineman is like taking vitamins. It's a pain in the ass, and gives you no immediate results, but vital for your long term health. This team cannot count on LeCharles Bentley coming back. Kevin Shaffer is not a left tackle. Ryan Tucker is no longer a tackle period. Joe Andruzzi is a has been, who will likely retire at seasons end. Cosey Coleman is a backup guard at best. Hank Fraley is small, old, and we are now seeing why he was kicked to the curb in Philly. Aside from maybe moving Shaffer to right tackle, and possibly moving Tucker inside to guard ... this team needs to completely start over on the offensive line. And that is no one or two year fix.
The defensive line is in no better shape. Orpheus Roye may have another good year or two left. That's all we've got. As one reporter said earlier this season, "Ted Washington is retired. He just doesn't know it yet." Alvin McKinley is a 7th or 8th lineman for a 4-3 team, not a starting DE in a 3-4 set. The backups would all struggle to make any other NFL roster.
This team has other warts. It's not even worth getting into them though. This team is a joke in the trenches. They have been for seven years, and it's no better today than it was five years ago. The Browns are still two perfectly executed drafts and free agency periods away from restoring these units to a playoff quality caliber. Minimum.
And guess what? We need a coach again. While Romeo Crennel was a great defensive coordinator, he is no head coach. There's a reason he was interviewing for head coaching jobs for three years and never even got a sniff. He lacks fire. He lacks passion. He lacks any knowledge of anything on the offensive side of the ball. He lacks creativity. He can't game plan. His teams have looked unprepared and unenthused, and straight quit on him yesterday in the second half. Most likely as a player imposed boycott for not firing that god damn idiot Maurice Carthon. Two weeks to gameplan for this game, and that's what we get?
Bottom line - the opener versus the Saints and yesterdays game against Denver were two HOME games this team had weeks to prepare for. In each instance they looked lost, helpless, unprepared, unenthused, and overmatched from the opening gun. I have no further evidence your honor.
Meanwhile, owner Randy Lerner is across the pond watching his soccer team, and General Manager Phil Savage is likely on a roadie scouting a college game. Nary a word from either of them to this fan base. A fan base that has been dealt out more mental and emotional abuse than the kids that were regular visitors to Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch.
No fan base in all of sports is more forgiving, with both their hearts and their wallets. This city has loved this team unconditionally since their return, despite seven and a half years of a downright awful product.
Like all good things, that's coming to an end, and was confirmed by a half empty stadium at halftime in just the sixth game of the regular season. With King James set to lace em up in nine days, and the team headed to another top five draft pick ... the fans just don't give a shit anymore.
And the only surprising thing about that is that it took them this long to get there.