Monday Night finish epitomizes Cleveland Browns football


By Kevin Yanik | Managing Editor, LP Gas/Pit & Quarry

Only the Cleveland Browns can line up for a game-winning play and find a way to lose on the very same play.

That’s how this week’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Browns and Baltimore Ravens went down on the lakefront. The Browns lined up for a game-winning 51-yard field goal attempt with a few seconds to spare. In Browns fashion, the kick was blocked and scooped up by a Ravens player, who improbably scampered along the sideline and into the end zone.

In a flash, a potential victory that would have satisfied the masses during one of the most disastrous Browns seasons in recent memory turned into yet another logic-defying loss — the kind that only happens in Cleveland.

The football mess in Cleveland has piled up considerably over the last 17 years, ever since the NFL rushed the Browns back to Cleveland following the franchise’s 1995 move to Baltimore.

There were times since 1999 when the city was simply happy to have a football team back in Cleveland. The fans wouldn’t have cared during those years if the Browns never won a game. Having a football team wear the brown and orange again was enough.

Over the course of this new Browns era, though, satisfaction has given way to years of frustration and despair. The football debacle in Cleveland has been going on for nearly two decades — more than half my lifetime — and the escape from the losing is nowhere in sight.

Comments from a couple of my North Coast Media colleagues about Monday night’s loss illustrate how low morale has gotten in Cleveland over the Browns.

“Sitting at [First Energy] Stadium last night and watching the blocked field goal and the return for a touchdown was unreal,” says one colleague. “I just sat there and laughed. It appeared as I watched all of the fans leaving the stadium that they now totally expect something like this to happen. I saw more people laughing and shaking their heads as opposed to being upset. We are so jaded now.”

Adds another North Coast Media colleague about the latest loss: “I was shaking my head as we lined up to kick a field goal. I thought: ‘We’re going to blow the first pick of the draft to win this completely meaningless game.’ I was clapping when the Ravens blocked it and scored.”

Fandom would be more tolerable if the Browns would simply field a respectable football team and lose with grace. Instead, the team regularly makes headlines for non-football reasons and plays in losses that defy football logic.

Like my one colleague, a number of Browns fans are eyeing the top pick in next year’s draft as the turning point to steer this franchise right. But this is Cleveland, and by year’s end the Browns will likely find a way to not be the best at being the worst.