CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – When it comes to watching the Cleveland Browns these days it’s so hard not to cry that fans can only laugh at the team’s futility, which has reached historic levels in 2017.
And that’s exactly what fans plan to do – laugh – by planning an imperfect season 0-16 parade for January 6th should the team go winless this year.
“They are entitled to do what they want,” head coach Hue Jackson said Monday, following loss No. 14 – 27-10 to the Baltimore Ravens. “I truly get that they have true passion about the Browns, and we really appreciate that. We haven’t been good enough, let’s just be honest. That is where we are so everyone in our organization is working extremely hard to make sure that there is not a parade, but we have to uphold our end of it and make sure that we are winning.
“I get it. Would it be disappointing if they had one? Yes, but at the same time, I do get it.”
This is what professional football has become in Cleveland after its fans fought in 1996 to get the Browns back and to retain the team’s once proud heritage, which has now been stained by the sheer incompetence of the organization’s leadership over the last 5, if not 19, years.
“Never do I want to see my team facing a winless season, and now to have it in back-to-back seasons is almost too much for me to fathom – even after years of expected disappointment from our Browns,” Chris McNeil, the parade’s planner, told 92.3 The Fan Monday.
Unlike a year ago, the passion and determination to avoid a winless season may be present behind the scenes but the players this year have shown none publicly. Linebacker Christian Kirksey declared after loss No. 9 a year ago they would win a game. No such declaration has been made this year.
“I know people haven’t said it out loud or to the media or anything, but nobody in our locker room wants to go 0-16,” linebacker Joe Schobert said. “But you can’t have that pressure looming over you and expect to be at your best. I think guys have done a good job of not thinking about it, just focusing on the next opponent ahead of them and just trying to go 1-0 in that week.”
Center JC Tretter was asked about the plans to celebrate their inability to win a single game should the next 2 weeks go like the first 14, 29 of the last 30 and 47 of the last 51 have.
“I hope we as a group ruin what they are planning, but people are entitled to their own opinions and whatever they want to do or celebrate,” Tretter said. “I might not be a fan of it, but it doesn’t offend me. I’m not easily offended so they can plan whatever they want, but I hope we ruin it.”
“This parade is supposed to be fun, but also be a clear statement to the Browns organization that fans like me are sick of the losing culture that they have essentially institutionalized in Berea,” McNeil said. “We deserve better as fans. I appreciate the Browns making a statement that they recognize the need to improve and win games, but actual results are long overdue. The Browns have said they want to celebrate a championship parade with the fans soon and I think we are all on the same page there.”
Nearly 10,000 fans have expressed interest in attending the parade on the group’s Facebook page and more than 2,500 have said they plan to go.
It’s the second straight year McNeil has put together the event, which was canceled last year after the Browns hung on to beat the Chargers 20-17 on Christmas eve and has been labeled ‘Perfect Season Parade 2.0.’ He’s hoping for another Christmas miracle this year so that the monies raised will be donated to the Cleveland Food Bank once again.
“On top of the Browns longstanding partnership with the food bank, they also matched our food bank donation last year and helped feed those in need in our community,” McNeil said. “We thank them for that and hopefully we can do something similar this year after a win.”
The Browns need to win at Chicago or Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history.
“I’ll talk to them, but our players know,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to go in the record books that way. Nobody does. We didn’t set out to go this way.”
Jackson is now 1-29 since taking over in Cleveland in 2016, the worst mark for a head coach in NFL history.
“We all know we have a lot of work to do to become the team we want to become,” Jackson said. “Our fans deserve better.”