The Cleveland Browns are starting their season tonight with an exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers.
I have no idea what’s happening.
It’s not because I don’t have a TV. Nothing like that. In fact, I love my TV. I love the things I watch on my TV. It’s old — got it in the fall of 1991, pretty close to exactly 18 years ago today — but it still works just fine. Heck, I watch all kinds of Browns stuff on it. Watched that game against the Buffalo Bills last year where Phil Dawson made a career-long 56-yard field goal with a minute left and then Bills kicker Rian Lindell missed one at the buzzer. Saw the game a couple years ago against the Arizona Cardinals when Kellen Winslow caught the ball in the end zone on the last play but was knocked out of bounds before he could land; Browns lose. Laughed my ass off trying to figure out what Bernie Kosar was saying on last year’s preseason broadcasts.
And I’ve got a radio. Not tuning in hoping to hear Jim Donovan proclaim, “Touchdown, Browns!” I’ve got internet access, too; that’s obvious. I could phone a friend, or at least text someone, to get an update. Heck, maybe I could even go on Facebook; some of my friends have to be status-updating the Browns. I’m not following Zac Jackson’s tweets, either. I’m trying — trying, I say — to stay away from message boards (although in a moment of weakness I did find out another die-hard is prepared not to watch any games this season either if Derek Anderson is the quarterback).
Why have I declared a blackout on the Browns preseason game tonight? It’s quite simple. I’m boycotting the Browns.
I haven’t forgotten how the Browns finished last year. Following the Buffalo game where Dawson played hero, the Browns lost six straight while scoring only 31 points. Six of those came on a Brandon McDonald interception return. The other 25 came from eight Dawson field goals and one extra point. Not an offensive touchdown to be found. The last two games were embarrassing shutout defeats at the hands of division rivals Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. It was the first time the franchise suffered back-to-back shutouts. Six games in a row without an offensive touchdown — no, six games in a row WITHOUT GETTING INTO THE RED ZONE! Jamal Lewis called it the worst season he’d ever played in. No one argued.
Now don’t throw your shoe through your computer screen. It’s not a total boycott. The Browns do have an opportunity to win me back. No, not by hiring a new coach and treating outspoken players like the Soviet Union used to treat political dissidents. Heck, if that’s all they had to do I’d already be watching again. Actually, there’s nothing the Browns can do between now and the start of the regular season to get me to end my Browns-watching boycott. I have drawn that line in the sand.
In order to win me back — in order to get me to watch another minute of Browns football, another dropped pass by Braylon Edwards, another Lawrence Vickers sweep on third-and-2, another Derek Anderson interception in the red zone — the Browns need do only one thing. They’ve got to score a touchdown. On offense. During the regular season.
After enduring six games to end the 2008 season that were worse that any trap sprung on a “Saw” victim, I’ve had to turn my back on the Browns. They’re used to being the pretty girl in the room who gets attention no matter how awful she acts. But no more. In 2009 the Cleveland Browns have to do something to regain my fan loyalty. To do that they have to do something they haven’t done for 20 straight quarters. Score a touchdown.
This being Cleveland and all, the most likely scenario is this: Browns take the opening kickoff in the first game against Minnesota. Josh Cribbs returns the ball to the 35. Brady Quinn starts and throws a couple nice short passes to Braylon Edwards and Steve Heiden that get the ball past the 50. Jamal Lewis busts off a nice gainer to set up a Quinn-to-Brian Robieskie completion off play action into the red zone. A couple of plays later Lewis barrels over from yards out and five minutes into the season the Browns are up 7-0.
And then they don’t score another touchdown for 3½ games, all while I’m watching.
Oh, and it’s 14-0 Packers. Both Anderson and Quinn have thrown interceptions. Doesn’t seem like my boycott’s all that effective. Oh, well, there’s always next year.