Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
The response was so overwhelming from Browns' fans, some more frustrated than others, that we have to run it Wednesday in two separate blogs.
As many of you are aware, the Browns have had just one playoff game (a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers) since their return a decade ago. Tons of bad decisions, follies and mismanagement have taken place afterwards. It also doesn't help that Pittsburgh, Cleveland's biggest rival, added two Super Bowl titles in the past four seasons.
Here were the best responses from those who believe, to some degree, fan support is staring to waver in Cleveland:
Tim from Cleveland writes: The Browns are very close to losing their fan base based upon a poor product year after year. Throw in the fact that many younger fans will love LeBron James and thus the Cavs as their favorite team. Also in today's world you can see all the teams play each and every week, but when I grew up I would only see the Browns each week and than just a few other teams on TV. Combine all these factors and you can see the younger fan base leave to other teams and other sports.
Red from Cleveland writes: I think that Cleveland's fan base has been losing hope in the Browns. After first losing the team, we have been forced to deal with almost a decade of horrible seasons. Think how excited Cleveland was in '07. Cleveland supported the Browns then. We were skeptical though for good reason. I think it's just getting old and frustrating. That's why there's so much support for the Cavs. They're winning and they've continually been getting better. They also have a phenomenal face of the franchise in LeBron James (It also helps that he's from Akron). Who's the face of the Browns? And have they been continually building to get better and better like the Cavs? I'd say no.
Kevin from Columbus writes: Being that I am 23 years old, I have few memories of the Browns before their eventual move to Baltimore. Though I do remember the excitement in my family when the Browns returned in 1999 and the renewal of the Browns-Steelers rivalry in the Hall of Fame game. Unfortunately, that has been the extent of my excitement, except for the 2007 season. Every season starts with hype of how they are getting closer to that winner's pinnacle, though 4 or 5 games into the season, it feels like all hope is lost. I fear that if this trend continues, the great fan base that is Cleveland will move from the dawg pound to other venues such as Quicken Loans arena or Progressive field. Management needs to work especially hard with the upcoming draft and hope that the new staff can put a winning team on the field to renew Cleveland's fan base.
Andrew R from Hudson, OH writes: I am a 22 year old Browns fan and I will be my entire life. What I mean by that is, I will always hope that the Browns do well. However, I will admit that over the past years I have been less likely to buy Browns clothing or tickets. I've been watching a lot of other teams play too, in part due to accessibility to watching their games with more of them being on TV, and in part because I also like to watch good football. But at the heart of it all, I'll never cheer for a team if they are playing against my Brownies... As far as intra-sport interests go, my primary focus has shifted from the Browns to the Indians to just being sad to the Cavaliers over the course of my short-lived life.
Steven Fenig from New York writes: Now in my mid 40's, I grew up in New York City a Browns fan and as a kid I fell in love with Bill Nelson, Greg Pruitt, Brian Sipe, the great history of the franchise and the passionate, blue collar fans of Cleveland. Going thru Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble and The Desertion just sealed my loyalty to the Browns forever. Cleveland Brown runs thru my blood. I just had my first child, and it saddens me to think that all he will know of my beloved Browns are the sad sack losers of the past 10 years. I do sense the fan base slipping away and it really hurts.
Sayhay from Shaker Hts, Ohio writes: Hi James. Displaced Steeler season ticket holder living in eastern Cleveland. I live in a neighborhood filled with young kids....lots of boys between the ages of 6-11. 3 years ago...all you saw were Winslow and Brady Quinn jerseys. This year a good percentage...not all mind you, but more than half the kids....are starting to wear Roethlisberger and Ward jerseys. I saw a Polamalu as well. These are the kids of native Clevelanders..... I asked one of the boys...who used to give me grief about the Steelers as late as August 2008.....why he was wearing the Big Ben jersey. "I like the Steelers now. They are always good....and have good players. They are my team now." I asked some other guys I work with (some native Clevelanders...some from all over the country who live here now)..and they say they are seeing the same thing......a generation of young Clevelanders picking OTHER teams (not necessarily always the Steelers) other the Browns.....to support. Same thing is happening with young baseball fans back in Pittsburgh....but this is a football blog. Just one guys observations...... Love your blog and hit it every day. Best regards RWM
Dave from Erie writes: The Browns have had more bad luck in the ten years they've been back than most franchises see in 50 years. Free agency has been tried and for the most part it hasn't worked. You have to build from the draft and the Brown's front office have really tanked on that over the years. The Browns haven't been able to find good head coaching. As we start over again let's hope that fortunes will change with Mangini. I'm keeping my tickets for now, but it gets harder every year. If it weren't for the PSL I'd be gone. My kids have no interest in a perennial loser. It is very demoralizing to live in PA and be a Browns fan. Only the strong will survive!
Mark from Bangor, PA writes: In response to you thought of the day: I'm a life long Browns fan at the age of 42. I'll never change loyalty. I am however nearly done with football. If the Browns don't turn it around in the next 2 years, I think I'll just stop watching all together. I'll not waste money on the NFL Sunday Ticket. Why would I pay that type of money to see them lose every week?
Zach from Dayton, OH writes: In regards to the Cleveland fan base "Thought of the Day"... I have been a Browns fan for 29 years now. I kind of remember them being awesome back in the 80's when I was a kid but most of what I can remember is utter disappointment. I will never stop rooting for the Browns but I find it hard to summon the energy for them that I had 10 years ago. I love the Browns fans and I appreciate the history of the team but the last few years have just been beyond dreadful. I am sick of not having a QB and I am sick of the constant changes that lead absolutely nowhere. In my opinion, the Browns are inching closer to losing a nice chunk of their fans due to inconsistency. I know every team has their ups and downs but we seem to be heading down a hill that ends in an empty hole.
Ian from Hartford writes: Looking back over the last few years it's easy to unders
tand a slowing in the river of passion that encapsulated the Browns fan base. Whatever the reason, be it gross mis-management from the ownership down or poor coaching/draft choices, fans in Cleveland are fast becoming disillusioned with what was once their pride. Seeing a team in their own town which has shown great pride and ability in management as well as an overall will to win (i.e. the cavs), makes it difficult to root for a team which has become perennial losers. I do have to say this decline has not started in recent years, but began when the True Browns left for the city for Baltimore. My parents and many of their friends find it hard to root for a start up organization that doesn't match the dignity and pride that the old organization showed. Though the team in Cleveland carries the name and colors of the old Franchise, it is a not the same team that once defined a city's hard working ideals and blue collar roots. It is not the team that was so close to winning in the 80's or the team that Jim Brown played for, it is an imposter living off the legacy of heroes long gone.
Later this afternoon, we will hear more from Browns fans on this subject.