I’ve read countless tweets from Browns fans saying they won’t watch this documentary about the 1995 Cleveland Browns. Tony Grossi wrote about it and likened it to reliving a family member’s funeral. While those scenes depicting the stadium being torn apart might cause me to shed a few tears, after seeing the sneak preview, I think I’ll have to watch it because there is so much more there for someone like me born in 1979. I wasn’t anywhere near maturity as a football fan by that point in my life.
I know all the names of the guys in and around the Browns, but to say that I have vivid memories of Bill Belichick as Browns’ head coach would be a lie. It makes this story almost mandatory viewing for NFL fans when you consider that names like Bill Belichick, Mike Lombardi, Nick Saban, Kirk Ferentz, Scott Pioli, Eric Mangini and Ozzie Newsome were all at least partially built during this time period. Yes, it hits hardest for Browns fans who lost their team and in many ways still don’t have it back. Even still, part of being a Browns fan is understanding and wanting to explore the rest of the ecosystem that they exist in in the wider NFL view.1
And now that more than fifteen years have gone by and different pieces of the puzzle have been laid in their place, I guess I’d like to see what that puzzle looks like all put together. I probably won’t cement it, frame it and put it on my wall,2 but I think the exercise will still be worthwhile. Again, it will be painful, but as the Browns are on the precipice of a new owner and probably many more new pieces being added, it feels like the right time to suffer through some depressing memories in order to properly partake in this “after action review.”3
Anyway, there is a preview online featuring commentary from Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, Doug Dieken as well as a host of media members. From what I look like it doesn’t appear to be heavy on the Art Modell propaganda, so at least there’s that.
One of the most difficult adjustments for Browns fans since the team has been back has probably been missing out on five years of game evolution in terms of on and off-field culture. In many ways, I think Browns fans are still fighting many of the changes that happened while we were… ahem… “away.” [↩]
And really, who cements a puzzle and puts it up on their wall (other than my family growing up, that is? [↩]
I used to work in a big corporation and all their terminology has yet to leave me. From Wikipedia – “An after action review (AAR) is a structured review or de-brief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better, by the participants and those responsible for the project or event.” Technically I wasn’t responsible for anything here, but I’ll use it anyway. [↩]