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Cleveland Browns Fans Hatred for Brandon Weeden Sunday Was an Embarrassment
Growing up as a sports fan in Northeastern Ohio has never been easy, as fans have experienced highs and lows that are among the worst in all of professional sports. Despite being treated to some of the lowest of lows, the fans in Cleveland have always proven to be some of the most loyal in all of sports. However, it wasn’t until Sunday that this writer was officially embarrassed to be known as a Cleveland Browns fan.
As the Cleveland Browns took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in frigid Cleveland on Sunday, the Browns had an opportunity to bounce back from a bad loss in Cincinnati and put themselves firmly back in the playoff hunt. Unfortunately that did not happen, instead the pessimism and negativity that has surrounded this franchise since 1999 has seemingly taken over once again.
Led by their third quarterback of the year, Jason Campbell, the Browns fell victim to costly turnovers and zero offense early—falling behind the Steelers 13-3 at halftime. Despite an atrocious performance for most of the game, the Browns were never more than two scores down until the eight minute mark of the third quarter.
Even though the team was still “in the game”, the fans in the stands treated it like the team was down 60-0 from the minute Campbell was hurt in the second quarter. As Campbell lie motionless face down on the ground, former starting quarterback Brandon Weeden took snaps on the field and was greeted once again to a chorus of boos and negative passion from Browns fans that was never shown toward the Steelers all day.
As Weeden entered the game for a third and six play from the Browns 27, the stadium was louder than it had been at any key moment when the Steelers had the ball. When Weeden dropped back and threw a perfect pass off the hands of Jordan Cameron that would have gone for a first down, fans were incensed with anger toward the beleaguered quarterback.
For the first time in my entire life, I looked around the stadium and was embarrassed to say that I was part of this fan base.
Sitting in my season seats up in section 318 of the Upper Dawg Pound, it is always fun to get the fans riled up about Weeden coming in the game. I will joke around and say our savior is on the way and they always joke back in a playful nature. But this week was different, as fans acted like the guy has never thrown a decent pass or didn’t come in and lead the team back from down two scores against the Buffalo Bills earlier this season. The irrationality and hatred toward Weeden led one fan to tell me “Hoyer won the Bills Game” (was knocked out with an ACL injury), and when I reminded him Hoyer was knocked, he said “Umm, Josh Gordon won it”.
It is a fine line to walk when criticizing those who spend their hard earned dollars, and that is certainly not what is happening here. Feel free to cheer how you want, boo when you would like—but just know the subjective booing and criticism toward Weeden every single time is an embarrassment to you as a fan, the city of Cleveland and the Browns franchise.
Listen, Weeden has been a bust since being drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert. He has failed to grasp the concepts and make the leap to an NFL level quarterback. He was touted as a highly accurate and mature quarterback coming out of college, yet he has made bad decisions and looked like a deer in headlights at times. But when he is under center, he is still the quarterback of your Cleveland Browns and treating him like he is Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco when under center is an absolute disgrace. As a fan you get loud, boo and be as negative as possible when the opposing team has the ball in order to rattle them and create a “home field” advantage for your team. However, thanks to the hatred for Weeden, it is like the Browns offense is on the road each time he takes a snap.
Everyone wants to view these guys as professionals who are supposed to be able to play no matter what the conditions, but if you don’t think a guy like Weeden who is already pressing in an attempt to prove he can play quarterback in this league isn’t affected by being booed every time he is on the field, you are fooling yourselves. Players are clearly impacted by the energy level given by the fans and the competitive advantage of playing at home, so why make it feel like they are on the road?
When Campbell re-entered the game for the Browns in that second quarter, fans treated him with cheers and a celebration like he was a hero returning from saving the world from the Big Bad Weeden. Despite being obviously injured, Campbell and the Browns coaching staff felt a guy who was being cheered by the fans was a better choice than Weeden at the time. Two three and outs and a knockout hit from William Gay later, and Campbell’s season with the Browns is officially in jeopardy with a concussion.
Growing up in this city, your frustration and desire for a winner burns deep inside of me as well. But booing Weeden every time he steps on the field isn’t going to suddenly make the team a winner, it is putting more pressure on the guy you absolutely need to be at his best if you want to win. With literally nobody left on the depth chart behind him, Weeden is the only option for the rest of the season if Campbell is out—so with all due respect, deal with it or don’t show up for the game.
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