After just one week in first place, the Cleveland Browns lost to the Houston Texans, falling to third place and compromising their playoff hopes.
Sunday was a disaster for the Browns. The offense struggled; the defense couldn’t get off the field; and, if not for Texan penalties, the Browns wouldn’t have even scored.
But Browns fans, this failure isn’t all bad. Remember, your reputation is shaped by the way others view you. And, to the rest of the NFL community, a Browns fan is looked upon as a loveable underdog — a representation of relentless faith and hope in a struggling team.
So maybe right now, there isn’t a Superbowl win in your immediate future, but this just means you have one more year as an underdog. If sports movies over the past twenty years have taught us anything, people are rabidly supportive of the underdog.
Think about it. No one likes the winners when you aren’t one, and we all know that the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have four and six Super Bowl rings respectively, have more than their fair share of hate coming their way.
By developing a reputation as one of the NFL’s biggest underdogs for the past twenty years, the Browns have given no team or fans a reason to hate them; this has probably garnered further fans from around the country. In fact, an article published by Fox Sports listed the Browns as the fourth most likeable NFL team.
So, Browns fans, keep filling up 92 percent of that stadium every Sunday. Bundle up and brave the cold Cleveland air. Proudly display those Browns hats and jackets.
But, don’t forget, during your hungering for victory, that your unshakeable commitment and dedication to a troubled institution is in many ways more beautiful than the average fan’s commitment to a consistently strong team. The love you show your team has been tempered by a very different flame — doubt.
While the Browns are one of the most likeable teams, their fans are also on the receiving end of a plentiful heaping of jokes about this aforementioned unshaken dedication. But there is something extremely earnest, honest and almost familial about a Browns’ fan love; there are few fair-weather fans in the Browns’ stadium.
As an office composed mostly of Browns’ fans, we understand this all is a somewhat cold comfort. But when the Browns do win a Super Bowl — because they eventually will — the years of struggle and hardship will make the win all the sweeter, and it could very well go down in history as the greatest underdog victory in professional football. The years of loss are essentially building up to make this legend all the greater when it eventually comes to fruition. Remember, you have to understand what it means to lose to fully appreciate a victory.
So, yes it is excruciatingly painful to watch your favorite team for your entire life lose its spot at the top so quickly, and yes, there is no joy in defeat. But life is full of little and great defeats, and as humans, it is our job to desperately search for a silver lining.
For now, though, embrace the identity of loveable underdog.