It is still football
I don't hang with any other sports writers. Often I am the only writer at a game, unless it is a playoff game or sometimes a football game.
So when I find myself surrounded by them like I did Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, I tend not to talk. It constantly amazes me how jaded many reporters have become. Whether it is a regional final or an NFL game, many don't want to be there and often express how put upon they are for having to watch a game that they don't feel is up to their standards.
Part of it is many of them go to a lot of games. So it has become work. Part of it is in the big leagues they make you sit behind glass in a temperature-controlled environment safe from the sounds of the game. It is like watching a drive-in movie on mute. It takes much of the fun out of it. After all, it is work.
At the half of the Browns game, this is what I overheard.
A frazzled writer said, “It could be five years ago and I would not be able to tell the difference."
A teflon T.V. sports anchor said: "I can't believe I am spending my day at this game. Tonight you know what I am going to say? How long until the Cavs start?"
A radio guy said, "It's a complete joke. Nothing has changed."
And I am not positive, but I could have sworn I heard a columnist say, "I should have taken the buyout."
I didn't say anything. After all the Browns did have 2-yards of total offense after the first quarter. But they were balanced with 1-yard a piece, rushing and passing.
Sports is fun and Cleveland professional sports can often make you forget that. And while the ending was the same on Sunday, things have changed. The Browns are far better than they were five years ago and much better than they were two years ago.
Let's be honest, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel had a large hole to dig out of. Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark were over their heads and Butch Davis needed a Cleveland Bill Belichick attitude adjustment. Look up and down the roster, it is upgraded at every position.
Do I think the Browns will win this year? No. I think they will be fortunate to match last season's win total. But that is more a product of the division and their schedule. What I do like is that Romeo and Phil will not tolerate accepting that result. They will push the players into more or find new players for next year that can. Our quarterback is a second year third round pick. There will be ups and downs. Our best two offensive players don't even have a full season of games between them. The offensive line is working on its sixth starting center. It takes time to gel.
Sure the Browns had the same old result with another loss. But it is different. A foundation is being built. As bad as the first half was, they had the ball and chance to win in the last two minutes.
And at any rate, it is still football and that is a good thing.