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An outsider’s take on the Cleveland Browns

Mario Esquivel
Illinois native Mario Esquivel ’26 expresses his opinion on watching Cleveland’s home team for the first time.

“PUT YOUR PHONES AWAY!! THIS IS BASIC TRAINING!”- An old Browns fan proudly wearing an orange fedora.

Football: the great American pastime. At JCU, you probably belong to one of three teams: the Browns, Steelers or Bills. Being a rare outlier, I don’t belong to any of these groups. My allegiance lies with my home team, the last-place Chicago Bears (sadly).

Before coming to Cleveland, the only thing I knew about the Browns was the lackluster season fans endure year after year. I always wondered why this fanbase still has the fanaticism of its glory days, which is long past them at the moment . Being free from the bias of being from Cleveland, Buffalo or Pittsburgh, I decided to take a journey downtown to see what the Browns are all about when they faced the Tennessee Titans on September 24th.

On the bus ride to downtown Cleveland, old and young intermingle with each other, bonding over their love of the sport. An old lady was talking to a young man about the recent Ohio State upset over Notre Dame and their hopes for today’s game.

Tailing the sea of jerseys slowly encroaching on the lake, the smell of tobacco fills your nostrils. People smoking cigarettes, wearing giant orange chains, faces painted and feet marching to the beats of drums and barks. Did I slip into the apocalypse or get kidnapped into a rebel army?

“The wifi isn’t working, I can’t get our tickets to load” “F%#@!” -Two Browns fans having ticket issues on their phones.

Inside the stadium, brown and orange flowed between the hollow arteries of the stadium, giving life to the wind-chilled concrete. Names of players that haven’t played on the team in years outnumbered the ones brandishing the current roster, another indication of hanging onto the past. Any sliver of silence marked a prime opportunity for a chant to occur, “HERE WE GO BROWNIES HERE WE GO!” It didn’t matter who gave the chant out: kids, men, moms. Everyone heeded the chants and knew what to do: bark.
Pre-kickoff discussions and gossip from armchair analysts during the game were the best takeaways from my experience at a Browns game. Simply mention Deshaun Watson and you’ll get a spectrum of emotions: fury, hope, anxiety, fear and resentment. All across the board, you feel that Clevelanders (willingly or otherwise) put all their trust in him to lead them to victory. With injuries sustained in the season so far, it has fans holding their breath on what’s to come.
Cleveland has such an infectious spirit to it, there’s so much energy that can be found within it, especially the sports. People were crying out “CHUBBS CHUBBS CHUBBS” in the stands, letting their support for him be known after he sustained a season-ending injury in the Steelers game. The tradition of barking, once quarantined to the players on the field, spread to the fanbase like wildfire, with them happily adopting it.
Every first down, the stadium erupted in a barking in response to the music playing on the speakers. I couldn’t help but join in with the crowd, something I thought I would never do when walking to the stadium.
When it became apparent Tennessee wasn’t going to secure a win, I left in the fourth quarter with about 7 minutes left to beat the foot traffic to the bus. People taking photos with Lake Erie in the background, men smoking against the guardrails, couples holding hands and old timers shuffling away from the gates are the common sights you’ll see leaving the Browns stadium. It doesn’t try to be something it’s not, you know what you’re going to get when you buy a ticket and sit in those stands.
For my first ever NFL game, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh about the time I had downtown when taking the bus back to JCU.

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