New Year, Old Curse: The Cleveland Browns Are The Same Old Cleveland Browns

What did the Cleveland Browns do to be cursed by the football gods?

As we know, curses have been around since the origin of sports. Some fans accept them, and others question Siri in pursuit of a remedy to cure them. The thought of having a sports curse is unnerving, and a curse is close to impossible to elude.

For example, the Chicago Cubs have an eternal skirmish with the curse of the billy goat, while the Boston Red Sox fans writhed in pain for 83 years due to the curse of the Bambino before winning the World Series in 2004.

All curses come to an end, but it’s all about timing — except for the Cleveland Browns. After witnessing Northeast Ohio's native son LeBron James bring the first professional championship to their city since 1964, Browns fans hoped their own misery would end. Although their team on paper doesn't look championship-caliber on the field, Browns fans feel that their fate will change soon — but will it really? The early signs aren't encouraging, as the Cleveland Browns look like the same old cursed Cleveland Browns so far in 2016.

At the start of the season, it was perceived that the Browns were blessed by the football gods' blessings in obtaining Hue Jackson and Robert Griffin III. With Hue being a quarterback guru and RGIII on the road to being the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, the Browns were on par to have their best QB/head coach duo since the days of Marty Schottenheimer and Bernie Kosar. Now that we are entering Week 4 of the NFL season, the excitement is quickly evaporating.

As the Browns sit at 0-3, it feels that their season is in the books. It's premature to have that feeling, but with a gauntlet of tough divisional games and the injury bug invading the locker room, the future looks bleak.

With that said, in the course of three weeks, here are a few things that have happened:

  • Robert Griffin III injured his shoulder. He is out for a minimum of eight weeks.
  • Josh McCown suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
  • Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler has been named the starter for Game 3.
  • Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor lined up at quarterback.
  • Clipboard Jesus Charlie Whitehurst is now the backup quarterback.
  • Rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman broke his hand.
  • The Browns lost to the Baltimore Ravens after a controversial call involving wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.
  • Josh Gordon is serving a four-game suspension for his love with Mary Jane.

How did this happen in the course of a few weeks?

Um… because they are the Cleveland Browns.

That sounds harsh to say, but it’s the sad truth. The Browns deserve better, their fans deserve better and, I repeat, their FANS deserve better. For this reason, their loyal supporters are what makes me sad about the state of the Browns. Their loyalty is damming but admirable at the same time. Being emotionally invested in the Browns is the norm for native Clevelanders and residents of Northeast Ohio. They love their team like no other and aren't apologetic for it, even if that love is never returned on the field.

Unlike most NFL stadiums, Cleveland Stadium is packed regardless of the team's record. The Dawg Pound continues to harass opposing teams. The emotion and pride ring throughout the stadium; all that's missing is a quality product on the field. Under the new regime, there will continue to be hope, but it’s easy to refrain to the “Same Ole’ Browns” notion.

The continuing failures of the Browns are hard to swallow. Not to get them confused with a team on the rise like the Raiders or Buccaneers, but there was optimism that they would be better. Despite the fact it’s a bit too early to put the nail in the coffin for Cleveland, history tells us otherwise.

For the record, I am not a Browns fan or hater. I’m just an Ohio native with hopes that they will be a respectable franchise. Being the laughingstock of the NFL is tiresome to watch. Becoming a formidable team takes time, but how long do the Browns have to wait? Normally, the quarterback and head coach combination is the first step toward relevancy, but we've seen them fail at that numerous times. Having aspirations of making the Super Bowl is far-fetched, but being competitive and making the playoffs more than once in 17 years would be ideal at this point.

It appeared that the new coaching staff and quarterback restored faith for Cleveland. Instead, the reoccurring murky cloud is back. The ongoing overcast is something  Browns fans know too well, and that's unfortunate. The phrase of "wait 'til next year" that's used for Cleveland is constant, and frankly the Browns fans deserve better.

For Browns enthusiasts, rooting for their team made them a factory of sadness. Luck has evaded them for what it feels like forever, and things aren't changing for the better. Nearly 20 years after the Browns returned to the NFL, the curse continues to haunt them.

For the sake of the Cleveland Browns and their devoted supporters, I hope I'm wrong. But if history tells us anything, we will see them at the crossroads, where they will be lonely as a bottom-feeder team in the NFL, and that's unfair.

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