Cleveland Browns: Letting Go of the Past May Help Them Embrace a New Future

Derek TalibContributor IIIFebruary 24, 2011

23 Oct 1994:  Jim Brown looks on during a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Browns fans have clung like grim death to their past, but a fresh start may be the key to rejuvenate their outlook and change their perspective. Browns fans are the jilted husband or wife that was cheated on.  The feelings of betrayal from when the team left for Baltimore still runs deep in the core of fans that are devoutly loyal to their sports teams.

Like a spurned lover the fans of the Cleveland Browns hearts filled with hate as they watched their former team remarry and get a ring.  The Cleveland faithful began a new love affair, but instead of football the girlfriend was basketball.  Yes, the new girlfriend was a super model and the disrespected and cheated on Cleveland sport fan could now throw their shoulders back and earn some respect.  Unfortunately for Cleveland that supermodel girlfriend was (LeBron) James and the marriage Cleveland fans had with him ended worse than the first marriage to the Browns.

Now the twice divorced cities fans sit around the sports bar and blows the foam off the head of their beer and pine away for the days of Bernie Kosar, and Larry Nance.  The realization that the fans of Cleveland might have to make is that Bernie Kosar, LeBron James, and Larry Nance have one commonality…zero championships. Not one(1) NBA or NFL title. So really what are they missing?

It is time for the fans of Cleveland to let go of the past hurt and move forward recognizing that there is nothing like the present.  The Cavaliers are a pathetic mess and horrible to watch, but this group of players will bring Cleveland the same number of NBA titles LeBron had brought them, a resounding zero.  LeBron learned the hard way that brash talk does not translate to championships. It takes a team and an organization making the right moves, which in LeBron's defense the Cavaliers did not do. The Browns also have not gotten it right, but at least now seem headed in the right direction.

The old Browns are now in Baltimore and there is no sense crying over what they have, but instead embrace what is being built. The biggest problem the NEW Browns have had is consistency.  As much as the media and fans want to call Tim Couch a bust he got an inferior team to the playoffs. Was Tim Couch a bad quarterback or was the organization bad?  Put Tim Couch on an established team and he may have proven to be a solid starter barring injuries, just like Ben Roethlisberger has proven to be.

The Browns history goes back to 1945 but this is not the same franchise. This is not the team, front office, or even ownership that many of the Browns faithful grew up on.  This new legacy that is being forged in Cleveland may not be the team that makes up the Ravens, but it may not have to be.

I am about to say something blasphemous to most Browns fans.."change the uniforms". A change in uniforms is a small thing, but psychologically it can be great for fans and players alike. The Browns organization needs to create a new identify and starting with the uniforms is at least a start. When the Denver Broncos changed from their orange crush old school uniforms they won two Superbowl's.  Obviously Terrell Davis had a lot to do with it, but the uniforms sent a statement that they are not the same Broncos anymore. For purest that want to keep the uniforms the same, I must ask how many Superbowl's have they won in them? Jump into the 21st century with both feet.

Most Browns fans today are clinging to the days of Bernie Kosar and the Cardiac kids, but again the best those teams can offer is losing in the AFC championship games. It is time to create a new look, new era, and breath again.

For the first time since the Browns came back their seems to be some stability and competency in the front office, which is step one. Step two would be to stick with a coach and establish an identity. What does a Cleveland Browns player look like?  What is the team’s identity? These things have to be established by the coach and front office.

The fans of the Cleveland Browns got to watch their team gets taken away, win a super bowl for another city and then be given back a group of misfits in Browns uniforms.  The organization, fans, and players have to forget all the past hurts disappointments and disrespect and forge a new future. Peyton Hillis is not Jim Brown but he is carving out his own niche. Colt McCoy is not Brian Sipe or Bernie Kosar, but he is an established winner in both high school and college and has the capacity to create his own legend.

Since the era of the Super Bowl the Cleveland Browns have not gone to any of them and are more famously known for losing on the doorstep.  Is that the great past and tradition proud fans want to embrace? The fans do not want to just be competitive or be middle of the pack, they want a championship, something no incarnation of the Browns have brought to Ohio in the era of the Superbowl.

There is going to be a lot of hit and miss along the way until the right combination of front office and coach’s mesh to create what is in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.  Comparatively speaking the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Carolina Panthers, are what the new Browns can compare themselves too. 

The Panthers and Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995 four (4) years earlier than the Cleveland Browns. In the Jaguars third season they went to the playoffs.  In the Browns third season they also went to the playoffs. Both were put out in the first round.

Instead of building from that positive step the Browns imploded with having their coach and front office resign within the next two (2) years.  The Jaguars have only had two (2) coaches in their existence since 1995, and the Panthers are on their fourth , where the Cleveland Browns are now on their sixth  coach.  The Front office in Cleveland seems to change all the time.

The general managers in Cleveland since their return in 1999 have been Dwight Clark, Butch Davis, Phil Savage, George Kokinis (really Eric Mangini), and now Tom Heckert.   Each with a different way of doing things,  and a different vision. The fans  need not wonder why the Browns have been so bad since their return. That is like having different decorators designing one room, but having to use furniture and supplies from the previous designer. The room would be a mess with no real motif. In eleven years the Browns have had 5 different GM’s. The Ravens have had one(1)  Ozzie Newsome.

The Cleveland Browns fans are loyal and are some of the best fans in sports, but to move forward sometimes the past needs to stay in the past. Never forget the people that came before, but embrace the new. Shake off the dust of "mediocrity" and "almost" and only accept the best. best from a franchise that year after year fans have plopped down good money to see. Expect Superbowl's and never apologize for having high expectations. 

This is the NEW Cleveland Browns and unlike the Cardiac Kids this team has to get it done, and accept nothing less. Ohio sports fans do not accept excuses and the front office, ownership, and players found that out the hard way. The fans organized to stage a protest of sorts against ownership. You will not see that kind of fan pride in Jacksonville.  The new era has begun in Cleveland and it is with much anticipation and hope that this team moves forward. Do not compare this team to what has come before...expect more.