CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns have lost 13 straight games dating back to last December, including the first 10 of the 2016 regular season, both of which are franchise records for futility and fans of the organization are not taking it lightly.
After just one playoff appearance and two winning seasons since their return to the National Football League in 1999, the Browns have eroded support to the point where fans have been leaving games in the third quarter or worse, not showing up at all and instead allowing opposing fans to purchase tickets on secondary markets.
“First of all, we understand how disappointing this is for our fans,” said Sashi Brown, the Browns’ executive vice president of football operations. “We want to win for our fans more than anything. We believe we have the best fan base in the NFL.”
After scoring 25 straight points to claim the first meeting in Cleveland, the Baltimore Ravens scored 25 unanswered over the final 31 minutes of play and earned a 28-7 win over the Browns in last Thursday’s AFC North Division game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Following the loss, reports of a rift between coach Hue Jackson and the owners, but rather than panic, the second-year leader accepted the circumstances that come with being 0-10 while at the same time, preparing to play Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“We have the right coach in place,” Brown said. “We have the right character in our players coming into the building. We are positioned well for success as we move into the draft next year with two first-round, two second-round picks. We will have a host of players that learn to play with each other and will be on this roster for a long time, making our fans proud.
“We are, at the same time, really disappointed but not deterred and steadfast as we move forward that we have the right people in place and the right character around the building. We are seeing some signs despite the record of some real positivity and components of what will be long term in sustaining success that we have talked about a number of times.”
Although support has begun to dwindle as the team has long been out of the playoff race once again and being 14 years removed from their most recent postseason appearance, the Browns are confident they are on the road to respectability and will give fans something to cheer about in the near future.
“Our fan base will rise up for us,” Brown said. “We understand that, and we can’t bother ourselves with some of those externalities. We know that Browns fans and Cleveland as a sports city is unparalleled. We do have the greatest fans in the country. Some of that we need to own and win so that they have reason to come out and feel that hope on Sunday, and that is the path that we are on.
“I empathize certainly with the fan base. We want to win for them as soon as possible. We will have a plan in place and we do have a plan in place that is going to lead to a lot of success over a long period of time. We look forward to those days where the Dawg Pound is full and we are playing on Monday night.”