This week we heard some encouraging news that the team leaders decided to forego any days off in order to start prepping for the Ravens right away on Monday. Trust me when I tell you that Browns fans love to hear this kind of stuff. It helps bridge the gap between the level of desire that fans have for success and the lack of control we have over whether or not you can achieve that success. In light of that, I thought it might be instructive as you prepare for the Ravens to know just how Browns fans feel about this particular divisional match-up.
This game should be a rivalry and it just hasn’t been over the last decade. The Browns are the most dear franchise to the city of Cleveland and that’s partially because the Ravens were moved to Baltimore from here. I know some of you saw the NFL Network documentary about the 1995 Cleveland Browns, so I know it isn’t a completely foreign concept to most of you. Regardless, I thought it might be nice for us to try to put into words what it would mean for the Browns to take care of business this Sunday against a despised division rival heading into a bye week. I’ll go ahead and go first.
Quite simply, we can’t stand the Ravens. A victory over that team would be almost on the same level as a victory over the Steelers. In some ways it would be even better though. While Browns fans don’t really cherish the rivalry with the Ravens, I think that has less to do with history and more to do with a lack of respect. You see as much as we hate the Steelers (purely in a sports rivalry hate kind of way,) we respect them. While we all still love Ozzie Newsome I don’t feel that same level of respect for the Ravens and how they go about their business.
No matter how efficiently they build their team and run their business they will always be the city that stole our team. They will always be the people who used Art Modell without a care in the world for breaking our souls. They will always be the hypocrites who cried – justifiably so – when the Colts were ripped away from them and then responded by ripping the heart out of another city. They will seemingly never understand how hypocritical it is to despise the Irsay family and put Art Modell on a pedestal.
One victory won’t fix all of that of course. And I can’t expect you to understand all that water under the bridge, but just know that this is more than just a divisional match-up for Browns fans. A victory over this team this week would feel like more than just another win. And to carry it for more than a week with the bye? I can only imagine.
When I think about the Ravens a few things jump out at me. You want to know why I hate the Ravens? Let’s start with the idea that the organization says they ‘left the name, colors and records in Cleveland.’ What a crock. We fought for those. We made phone calls to the league office. We jammed their fax machine and mail box with letters. At the last moment the Ravens gave up the fight, because the league was making them. And somehow they paint themselves as generous.
The sting of losing the team would have been lessened had the Ravens stunk for over a decade like the expansion franchise we got in return. Instead they went to the Super Bowl. And won. They won our championship. Cleveland hasn’t won a title since 1964 in any of the three major sports. Our drought should have ended on January 28, 2001. That was our team. The players our city should have had. Rob Burnett and Matt Stover had been Browns, and they were starting for the Ravens. Ozzie Newsome was a Cleveland legend, and now he was helping build a dynasty. Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden should have been our picks.
Watching the Ravens become the rival to the Steelers, and the Bengals hating Baltimore for never being able to beat them hurts. Please put it to them. Especially at home.
The Ravens franchise is everything I wish the Browns could be. Around the league they are respected for their ownership, front office, coaching, defense, and my favorite, their home field advantage.
They are now considered the Steelers biggest rivalry, not us. I want teams around are division to hate us the same way we hate them. That starts with wins.
2-2 at home and 2 wins in the last 3 games are a starting point for this young club, but a win against a rival, at home, who leads our division would be another huge step in the right direction.
More than anything, a win this week would mean respect. Respect is something the Browns and their fans lack throughout this country. I don’t want people’s pity, I want their respect.
It all boils down to the Super Bowl. Had the Ravens not transformed into the defensive powerhouse that became a national nightmare; had they not essentially become won of the best teams in football seemingly overnight, this would not have to be penned. The colors and attitude and entitlement are enough. Adding in the winning and stability — and plenty of it — all while the Browns have essentially floated along the bottom of the pool, burning out quarterbacks and churning out front offices, and it’s time for it all to come to an end.
Time may heal all wounds, but in this case, the elderly keep aging. The future begins this Sunday.