The Browns is the Browns, but I see a different team

The Browns is the Browns, but I see a different team

Remember when we were a joke? A mistake by the lake? Remember when we lived our lives believing The Drive and The Fumble and Art Modell defined us? I’m here to chop and dice those words into tiny, little pieces and make a tasty salsa to eat with chips at next week’s game. It’s time to let them go, lay them down, maybe slice off a bit of our pridefully painful we-love-the-Browns-no-matter-what talk and rouse from a long slumber.

Because I’m ready to wake up and eat some freaking cake.

I don’t think I’ve ever known a season of Browns football in my life that didn’t have the words “maybe this will be our year” as a disclaimer in front of it. We girded our loins and joined the kick-off parties that included orange-iced cupcakes and deep, delectable chili with all the fixings. We donned our brown and orange tees and screamed “here we go Brownies, here we go” while sending furtive, frantic, expletive-filled texts to friends, and allowed a pit of despair to build deep inside us as we waited for the first sign of decay.

It’s a crusty dot in the middle of our hearts that never quite scars over year after year, nurtured by every fumble and miscue, every “that’s the Browns for you” uttered in disgust. We live by and wait for that moment every year. We know no other way.

We do not know how to behave as fans with a good team and coach in place because our cynicism is too great, our pain buried too deep inside us. We’ve allowed others outside our circle of caring to critique us, giving us permission with their words year after year to wallow in our despair — their too-bright descriptions hidden behind knowing looks and “best fandom in football” exclamations. We cannot see that maybe, just maybe, we have the quarterback who can make it happen for us, a coach that is the right fit and feel.

And if I’m honest, I don’t know how to live in a world where I don’t love the Cleveland Browns yet know it’s all going to fall apart at any minute, defending them at all costs. But I’m willing to try.

Maybe some of you aren’t ready to agree with me, but I watched our opener last Sunday knowing we were breathing new air, walking in different territory. It kind of felt like we were entering an ultra-fancy restaurant where everyone looks at you with eyes that say, “You don’t belong here. Get out.” And while we didn’t bring it home, I couldn’t help but be heartened by what I saw in Kansas City.

I saw four solid quarters (some shakier than others) of football laced with some mistakes, but even the best teams make mistakes, don’t they? I know what you’re thinking: We must find a way around those mistakes, or we’ll never go all the way. But you see that’s old Browns thinking. Don’t put it on those young men on the field. They don’t know that way of thinking, and some weren’t even born when our hearts were breaking. Yet I saw fearless play-calling and fourth-down conversions. I saw our three opening drives result in three-consecutive touchdowns. I saw a stellar run game and Baker throwing for 321 yards (and a heavy dose of accuracy to boot).

I saw a Browns team I believe in.

Until we can quiet the refrain from playing in our heads that “the Browns is the Browns” and really believe we’re better than anything anyone could ever say about us, we haven’t set aside the mentality of believing but reserving, hoping but holding back.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready let go of all the pain of the past (my entire life?) and howl like a dawg at the moon. I see a different Cleveland team ready to do just that. How about you?

Melissa Herrera is a columnist, published author and drinker of too many coffees. You can find her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” at or buy one from her in person (because all authors have boxes of their own novel). For inquiries or to purchase, email her at