A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Sports, Student Life

Hard knocks: the life of a Browns fan…

Jr. Holden Leffman paces his living room, anxiously waiting for the Cleveland Browns to make their first pick of the 2018 NFL draft. The Browns are coming off of the second ever 0-16 season in NFL history, so Leffman knows this pick is important for the future of his favorite team in the world.

  Fans that watch their team lose game after game often become typical bandwagon fans of a team with a promising season, but not Leffman. He has watched every Browns game for the past four seasons. That is 60 losses and only 15 wins, but being a die-hard Browns fan runs in the family. “I watch every game every single Sunday and haven’t missed a game for over 4 years, which means I watched every game in the 1-31 stretch between 2015-2016,” Leffman said.  Leffman remembers his grandparents watching and cheering the Browns on ever since he was little.

  He sat down on the couch sporting his #95 Myles Garrett jersey and he flashes back to last season when the Browns selected Garrett first overall.  He remembers watching Garrett get drafted last year, full of hope after an abysmal 1-15 record in 2016. They drafted a promising quarterback in DeShone Kizer and two solid defensive anchors in Jabrill Peppers and Myles Garrett.

  Holden knew the Browns had a tough schedule, but with a good draft he was full of hope.  He paid attention all throughout training camp and kept tabs on all of his favorite players leading up to week one.  They went undefeated in preseason, but got smoked by the Philadelphia Eagles in week one. The Browns’ loss against the Eagles set the tone for the entire season: loss after loss after loss.  

  The Browns ended 0-16  “It felt pretty bad, but I knew it was coming for the entire season; I could tell that the team wasn’t gonna win anything, especially with having such a tough schedule.”  

  Holden said he felt terrible after the last game against the Steelers. He couldn’t believe Corey Coleman dropped that pass on fourth down to give them a chance to win.  “I felt super upset…” His frustration is understandable, being they were only the second team in NFL history to not win a single game in one season.

  Despite Leffman’s repeated disappointment in the Browns, his loyalty to the team is undeniable.  He has plenty of hope for the upcoming seasons. He has a good feeling about the new quarterback, Baker Mayfield.  “I felt pretty good about it because I watched him at Oklahoma a bit and I could tell that he had the assets to be a good pick, and I felt confident in the front office making the choice.”  

  He keeps his hope up by remembering the great memories he’s had as a Brown fan, although there are few. “Obviously as an overall Cleveland fan, the championship in 2016 was one of the best moments of my life, but just for the Browns, the win against the Jets this season will never leave my mind, and the largest road comeback in NFL history against the Titans in 2014, and when Josh Cribbs returned 2 punts for TD’s against the Chiefs.”

  Leffman is a special person. After any Browns win, you can spot him sporting his Garrett jersey or his Browns sweatshirt.  He is one of those fans people hear about on the radio with crazy records for most consecutive games watched or something like that.  His knowledge of the game and his team is very impressive. He knows who won’t play one week before people get the notification on their phone from ESPN.

  He looks forward to the future and hopes to keep his streak of watching Browns games alive.  Leffman describes himself as a diehard, pessimistic fan who can’t wait for the day when he can wear his Browns jersey with pride.  Hopefully, he doesn’t have to wait too long.

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