Set Your Watch By It

Not everyone has access to a flip phone with a calendar function like I do, and not everyone likes to have actual calendars hanging on every wall like my wife does. Because of that, and because Cleveland is a lot like “Game of Thrones” (in that winter is apparently the one and only everlasting  season) there can be some confusion as to what part of the year it actually is around these parts. Perpetual darkness can create confusion.

But even for the technology deprived and the calendar-deficient, there is an easy way in Cleveland to answer the question of “What the hell month is this, anyway?”

You just follow the Cleveland Browns.

January– The Browns rarely play in this month. And if they do, a QB I’ve never heard of and who may never play NFL football again is probably making his only career NFL start. This is typically the first month following a 4-10 or 5-11 season and it is usually noted by me throwing my Christmas tree onto my neighbor’s tree lawn and by the Browns throwing their previous head coach and his staff out on theirs. Browns fans typically feel hung over and disgusted with themselves at this time. Kind of like you would after mixing a really bad night of drinking with the decision to cap off an evening of bad decisions with a trip to Taco Bell at 3am. There is guilt for having been sucked in once more by too many beers and sketchy burritos, and there are promises to never, ever, EVER let it happen again.

February– The Browns have never played in this month. Not once. February is noted as the month where the coaching search gets more depressing and goes from looking at qualified former head coaches or up and coming coordinators to scratching my head when the team hires a head coach I wasn’t familiar with who had a lot of success at the high school level or as the long-snapper coach in St. Louis. The NFL Combine also goes down in February and that’s where the recently cobbled together Browns front office falls in love with a player or two who can’t actually play football but who looks really good in the three cone drill. Browns fans are still sticking to their New Year’s resolution of swearing off the team and its sad state of affairs but begin the annual internal debate about renewing their season ticket plan or at least looking in earnest to sell the package and buy a bit more time so we have seats when the magic all happens in a decade or so.

March– Someone wants the tickets that are due to be paid for in the middle of the month!! This month is marked by
working on that transaction while the Browns lose any viable talent that has earned the right to test the free agent waters and get the hell out of here. It’s also usually about this time that the Browns sign their annual “WTF?!?!?” mediocre, aging QB to be a “mentor” and a “bridge” to the heir apparent QB they’re about to mistakenly select in 4-6 weeks. Fans are either sellers happy that they sold their season tix and bought some more time, or buyers happy they were able to get tickets at face value. Some buyers ask the sellers if that transaction includes rights to playoff tickets. Some of the more insensitive sellers chuckle and agree to those terms. “Oh…absolutely it includes rights to the playoff tickets”.

April– Teams that have hired new head coaches can start workouts the first week of April. Teams with returning coaches have to wait to the middle of the month. Needless to say with the Browns, they’re often starting those workouts as the NCAA tournament wraps up and MLB starts its season. Like with that hangover and Taco Bell guilt, Browns fans just now start to forget the pain and embarrassment that caused it all and start to look forward to the NFL draft that’s fast approaching.

May– This can be a bit confusing for Browns fans. Not long ago April was the month when the Browns would trade multiple picks to move up one spot in the top five to select a player like Trent Richardson ( a GD running back that the Vikings would have never selected and that no other team in the world would have traded to move up and grab) and then follow that up by using their semi-annual second first round pick on Brandon Weeden. And technically that’s still true as the draft starts on the last day of April. But the last two days of the draft are in May and May is when Browns fans convince themselves the team not only aced the first round but also found a couple late round gems that will go onto NFL stardom. Either way, optimism, like the flowers outside, is growing.

June– This is when teams will cut some expensive veterans to save some money on the salary cap and teams will pick up a few of those guys under newer, cheaper deals. It’s also when the NFL conducts their annual Rookie Symposium right here in Ohio. Players are educated in dealing with their money, dealing with women, dealing with fans and dealing with the media. Browns fans also know it as the time their own rookies scout out the best night clubs, buy their camouflaged sports cars or SUVs, and when the first reports of their first round picks “maturity issues” are brought to light. And judging by history and the bankruptcy rate of ex-NFL players due to issues with drugs, alcohol, women, guns and lack of financial responsibility, it would seem ear buds are permitted and attendance is voluntary at the symposium.

July– Training Camp!!! Man, these guys look great in their shorts and shells. So big, fast and athletic! Looks like  Aging Retread QB really has a great rapport with Aging Retread Free Agent WR (bonus if he has Ohio roots!) and that the front office really studied these college kids. That 6th round, 5’7” DB who left Texas for SW North Dakota State to be closer to his kids can run with anyone in the league. Not sure how this new head coach was never given an opportunity before the Browns job. He’s a head-knocker and has promised a tough, smart, aggressive team that will destroy you physically and obliterate your will to play against us! Finally!! This might just be our year! And stop destroying that rookie first round pick about that DUI he got while racing his camouflaged car. We were all young and made mistakes back in the day. These guys are entitled to blow off a little steam when they’re not on the field…

August– These preseason games are a colossal rip-off but, DAMN, it’s nice to have football back. And these games are a really good opportunity to bring the kids down and immerse them in the game and the festivities. It’s what we do here in CLE. It’s part of our culture! Blue collar town, baby! Born a Browns fan, die a Browns fans. Oh yeah!! Suck it, Detroit. The Great Lakes Classic and the barge are ours! Tell ya what, this rookie QB deserves a shot. He’s out played Aging Retread QB in every preseason game. Sucks losing that starting offensive lineman to the knee injury but that undrafted, corn-fed free agent kid who’s replacing him is a monster!! I don’t even know if there will be a drop-off. So what about his single-digit wonderlic score and the PED thing.

September– Man, the tailgating is great. Here at 7am, drunk by 8am, eat the best meal of my week right here amidst all these piles of trash and makeshift urinals. Tell you what though, with any luck or a bounce here, a play there, we could be 3-1, maybe even 4-0, and sitting pretty instead of 1-3. Seriously might be time to see what that kid QB can do. At least the kid QB could extend some plays, maybe breathe some life into the offense. Sick of losing to the damn Steelers and their 20,000 fans that fill our stadium. Shit, their fans were the only people left in our building at the end of that game. Every year this is like a home game for them. If we’re going to make a real playoff run we need to take advantage of this weak part of the schedule coming up.

October– I seriously think this might be the best 3-5 team in the league. And they still have a chance at the playoffs if they can run the table. I know the NFL has gone out of its way to make this a passing league, but I’m fine running the ball 65-70 times a game if that’s what it takes. It really sets up Aging Retread QB’s play-action game. But eight games deep, I’m thinking we should be getting more from our first round picks. They can’t even get on the field and when they do it’s like they’ve never seen a football before. It keeps going like this and I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach is looking for a new gig next year because there’s just not much discipline or toughness being shown. Wonder if he’s lost this team.  Mathematically possible playoff push starts now!

November– Jesus. This team is brutal. They can’t stay out of their own way. They can’t win close games and you might as well just tank the rest of the season and see if we can draft Connor Cook. Love that kid. Perfect size and kid knows how to win. Or maybe Dak Prescott. He moves better and can keep plays alive with his legs. Hell, Braxton is an Ohio kid and I’d take a chance on him too. Maybe next year whoever is coaching this team and picking these players gets their head out of their ass and gets someone here that can play. 4 wins probably isn’t bad enough for a top five guy though. And knowing these idiots, they’ll win two or three of these last four games and truly mess things up. Can’t even lose right. Time for the kid QB for sure now. Let him finish this out and learn on the job. God, I don’t know if I can take this shit again next year.

December– What a joke this team is! They are easily the most dysfunctional team in the league. Owner can’t stay
away from the field or out of court, front office is in disarray, coaching staff is at odds with each other and with the front office… I’m not dumb enough to pay to watch this crap every single year. And I’m sick of spending all day down here, throwing more money into parking, shitty food, drinks and then getting bent over for $10 per beer in the stadium just so I can tolerate watching that crappy product. I’m never, ever, EVER going to do this again.

Categories: Browns, Riffs & Rants

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