Replacing Expectations with Hope

Bark About It!

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While trawling through the masses of media content, which only another Cleveland Browns head coach and general manager search can produce, I was struck by the negativity surrounding the Kevin Stefanski hire. Personally, I was pretty happy with the hire but in some ways, the negativity that surrounded it may not be a bad thing. It’s surely not a bad thing that this hire was not another glorious crowning of the second coming.

Specifically relating to expectations. I do firmly believe that those lofty expectations, present from the minute OBJ signed, were used to beat Brown’s fans right when things started to go south for the previous coaching staff. For this reason, I am hopeful for the future but have my expectations firmly on the ground for the coming season. This last season, admittedly, was my toughest to stomach in my 20 years following this storied franchise and it was partly my fault…..I bought a first-class ticket on the hype train and the disappointment at the end of the ride was savage.

As fans, we all engage with media. We consume, produce, and redirect media to reflect our own personalities, biases, and preferences. There is absolutely no correct or incorrect way to do this. Such practices provide us with the wonderful tapestry of content that we can all consume as Browns fans. From podcasts to free content, paywall content, etc. Tensions in areas such as “analytics v football guys”, “Sashi wars”, or “who to draft” provide fertile ground for content creators and embolden subgroups of Browns fans. I believe this only adds to the strength of the fanbase.

Sashi, Dorsey, Baker, not Baker…….whomever you choose to stand for, has a place in the Browns family.

One thing, which will forever remain in the conversation of all fanbases is the dichotomy of negativity and positivity. The interplay of glass half full, half empty is much more apparent in a fanbase that has endured what Cleveland Browns fans have over the past 20 years. As a keen observer of Brown’s media, I was interested to see how fans who clearly advocated for Josh McDaniels to get the HC role would react to the hiring of Kevin Stefanksi.

The result, sure enough, was what I expected. An initial outpouring of:

“Browns screwed it up”

To a gradual acceptance of:

“Ok, we have what we have now, lets go Browns!”.

In short, the positive Browns fan:

When you remove biases, preferences and surrounding influences are going to support this team, no matter what, and have an ability to adapt quickly and get on board with change.

The negative Browns fan:

Negative for a reason and will struggle to adapt and overcome the significant roadblocks that current owners have put in their way of supporting their franchise.

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To nail my colors to the mast, I would fall into the positive side of the spectrum…however, last season, for me, was brutal. At times I felt as if my last grains of positivity were being drained away. The descent from lofty expectations to stuttering performances and devastating losses proved to be a step too far at times. Yet, here I am, the eternal optimist, trying to figure out how to tamper my own expectations for the coming year. Definitely carrying a newfound understanding for the fans who tend towards the more negative end of the spectrum.

My hopes for the coming season are, exactly that, HOPE. I have left any thought of expectations in the crumbled pile of rubble that remains from last season. While that may sound negative, it has offered me a new perspective, and the ability to move forward in a positive manner. So lets finally have it Browns…… the season that can unite us all!

Yours hopefully

John Cahill

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