Saturday Afternoon

America’s Team is suiting up again.

Jim Rome
August 15, 2019 - 9:31 am
Cleveland Browns

USA Today

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What are you doing Saturday afternoon at 10am in Hawaii, noon in Alaska time, 1pm pacific, 2pm Mountain, 3pm central, and 4pm Eastern?

Here’s a hint about what you should be doing: I just listed all of the time zones in the United States. And the reason I did that is because America’s Team is suiting up again.

The Cleveland Browns. You’re Cleveland Browns. Our Cleveland Browns are taking on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 of the preseason.

And I can’t wait. I’ve got a countdown clock going in my house. I’d say there are two more sleeps until the game, but let’s be real, I can’t sleep. And neither can you. I’m just lying there, staring up at the ceiling, thinking about the weapons on offense, the monsters on defense, about the special teams, and about that coaching staff.

And I know what some of you, especially you long-time Browns fans are saying: dial it back, Rome. Don’t bring so much pressure and so much hype to us.

I get that. I get where you’re coming from. You’ve been devastated so many times before. You’ve had your hopes crushed so many times that you don’t to get them raised again. Because you’re afraid of how it would feel. You’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

After all, this is the fan base that gave us “the Factory of Sadness” and “oh my God, this is not happening.” Well this IS happening.

 And instead of being afraid of the expectations, you should be embracing them! You don’t water down the Browns hype out of fear. You lean into it. You embrace it.

Why?

Because Baker Mayfield sure as hell is. He told Complex dot com, “I’d say the chatter doesn’t matter. The expectations for us within the locker room last year were higher than what we accomplished. Outside the locker room, people threw us in the trash before the season. They didn’t expect much out of us just because, the year before that, [the] Browns were 0-16. So, you know, you can only go up from there. And I think now we need to have the same mentality.”

That is the truth. The hype is so real. And the team is so real. And I know, Browns fans, that all of this is surreal.

Baker gets that too: “It went from having excitement over Bud Light coolers being opened to now people waiting to see us lose so they can say, “Oh, they got too hyped up.” That’s why you’ve got to have an even-keel mindset when it comes to that stuff.”

Not only were they excited about beer, we’re less than a year removed from a Browns fan trapping a possum in the stadium during a game. In the last decade, that would’ve qualified as the greatest moment in Browns history, but that didn’t even last the night, because that was the night that Baker Mayfield made his regular season debut and that was the night they got their first win. And that was the moment everything changed. Everything except for one thing. Baker himself.

“I probably won’t ever change. That’s just me. I mean, there’s growing up and lessons you learn throughout life, but you know, I’m always going to be who I am and enjoy that.”

Hell yes. And that’s the thing that should be giving you optimism, Browns fans, when the doubt starts to creep in. When you start flashing back to the bad old days.

Because this guy gets it and he gets you.  

“The city has embraced me, that’s for sure. Just going back to mentality-wise, the work ethic that people here in Cleveland take pride in. I think it’s something that I’ve done my whole life, and so it just truly fits in. I think that I was born to play here, and that’s where I can relate to the people of Cleveland.”

Listen to that part again: I think that I was born to play here.

Let that wash over you, Cleveland. Soak it in. That is a quarterback saying that he was born to play in Cleveland. He wasn’t traded to Cleveland. He wasn’t drafted by Cleveland. He wasn’t sentenced to Cleveland. He was born to play there. Again…He gets it. And he gets you.

And yet still, I know there are some of you, trying to shut me up about, saying that kind of hype can wreck a team. And you point to Jacksonville as a prime example.  Jacksonville shocked everyone a couple years back and came within inches of the Super Bowl, and went into last year with a ton of hype, only to implode and rip apart. And you want to remind me, wasn’t I the guy who started to lead the show with Jags takes.  Wasn’t I the guy who was blowing them up? And yes, I did give them some positive run.  Because at that time, they deserved it.  But I never said they were AMERICA’S team.  Never said they had America’s quarterback under center. Never said they had America’s coach orchestrating the whole thing. Never said they had the Browns’ explosive talent offensively, and killers on the other side of the ball. In other words, get that whack Jacksonville angle outa here: two totally different situations.

Talking about dealing with the pressure is completely different from actually dealing with the pressure. Jacksonville couldn’t. And it says here, the Browns will. And they already are. I know Baker Mayfield is. Because he’s built for this: and he has been doing it his entire life. So no, until I have a reason to, I’m not going to shut up about the Browns. I was the first guy in, last year when no one believed, and hell yes, I’m still banging that drum. This crew knows what’s up. And no one more so than their qb-1. 

See you Saturday for Week 2 of the preseason. Get your popcorn ready.