Browns Diary, Week 15: Refuse to Lose
Cleveland 20, Chicago 17
There’s something I’ve noticed while writing my upcoming book, WHY WE LOVE FOOTBALL — just about all football fans feel at least a little bit cursed. I suppose this is true for sports fans in general, but it’s particularly true for football fans. There’s a “Why us?” agony that seems to attach itself to a football fan’s psyche, whether that person is a fan of the Detroit Lions or New England Patriots, Alabama or Kansas State, the Cleveland Browns or the Ohio State Buckeyes.
One of football’s great illusions is that, in the end, everyone is against your team. The refs are against your team. History is against your team. The fates are against your team. The announcers are against your team. The media in general is against your team. The shmoes who pick games are against your team. All the other fans in the world are against your team.
Your team is always alone in a hopeless battle with the world.
This feeling is my defining trait as a Cleveland Browns fan. I know — I don’t “think,” I “know” — that, inevitably, it will end sourly. There’s no other way for it to end. A lifetime of untimely interceptions, third-down failures, shanked kicks, excruciating fumbles, devastating penalties and comical coaching decisions have hardened my heart, leaving little room for that thing with feathers.
What I have come to appreciate these last few months, as I dive deep into the most emotional moments in the history of football, is that just about every football fan feels at least a little bit like that. Your team doesn’t need to have the haunted history of the Browns or Bills or Lions to feel cursed. I have yet to come upon a moment where the fans on the wrong side of it didn’t say something like: “Yeah, of course that happened to us. Stuff like that ALWAYS happens to us.”
And so, I imagine all of you, no matter your team, will recognize the feeling I had when the Chicago Bears’ desperate Hail Mary pass was in the air on Sunday.
“Oh,” I thought. “They’re going to score the winning touchdown for sure.”
As it turns out,