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Mike Polk Jr. on yet another disappointing Cleveland Browns season

It's Browns v. Steelers on Monday Night Football, and while the game may now be meaningless, I still want to win

CLEVELAND — Oh yeah baby! You know what time it is! It’s Steelers/Browns night! Monday Night Football! National audience! 

Two historic rivals and this game COULD NOT BE MORE MEANINGLESS! .

You’re likely aware that we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yesterday, and we didn’t even need to lose to do it. Some other teams winning took care of that for us.   

That’s obviously a major bummer and certainly puts a damper on tonight’s proceedings and it has a lot of Browns fans pretty upset. Me? Not so much, to be honest. And I’ll tell you why,

Of course I wanted to go to the playoffs. I would have loved to have gone to the playoffs. But let’s be honest, this team didn’t DESERVE to go to the playoffs. What we had was, a ton of pre-season hype, never a good idea, that the Browns just failed to deliver on. 

And we can blame a lot of things for that. Pick your poison. Bad play calling? Bad QB play? Some poorly timed atrocious officiating. Injuries and COVID weren’t helpful, though from what I understand those issues were not entirely exclusive to our organization.

But here’s the thing, no matter what the reasons were for why we came up short, we did. So I can’t feel betrayed by the fact that we don’t get to advance.

That said, I was hopeful. Because even though we didn’t DESERVE to be there, I still feel like we’re past due for having something good happen to this team that we don’t entirely deserve.

A bad call goes our way and steals us a game. A great team we’re playing has a really off day and we dominate them. I’ve watched so many teams benefit from dumb luck over the years and for whatever reason, none of that ever seems to manage to trickle down to the Browns.

And I was hoping that karma might finally come calling this season, and provide us with some undeserved but long overdue good fortune, such as a playoff berth that we hadn’t fully earned. But it was not to be.

And now we’re in this weird position where we have nothing but two largely meaningless games remaining and a bunch of bad vibes in the fan base.

And that’s essentially the position we’re in as we face the Steelers tonight in ol’ Benny Boy’s last home hurrah.

And a lot of knowledgeable football people are suggesting that the wise move would be for the Browns to do everything they can to lose this game, and the next one.   

I know that technically, if I want my team to be better next year the move is to tank. It DOES make a difference. You get an easier schedule, and in case you didn’t notice, it seems like the teams that the Browns have a harder time beating are the competent ones. It would also help our draft standing and lord knows we could use a consistent deep threat receiver.

And the free agent market isn’t looking great in that department.

From a purely analytics standpoint it’s entirely foolhardy for the Browns to attempt to win these last two games but here is the thing: As much as I try, I can’t make myself want them to lose to the Steelers, so I hope they win tonight. And while I recognize that that is totally illogical, who has every aligned logic with Browns fandom? If I were prone to rational thinking I probably would have ceased being a Browns fan and attending games after the 2016 season when we won zero games, and I marched in a parade. (Clip)

What I’m saying is, remaining a fan of this infuriating team since its inauspicious return in 1999 is in itself an illogical act.

Longtime Browns fans, by the very nature of their existence, are irrational. So to expect me to not want to win today, against our team’s hated adversary and their backwoods, unwashed fanbase, simply because it would technically be more beneficial from a purely logistical standpoint, is nothing short of folly.

And you can yell at me about how I’m being short-sighted and you’re right but for some reason, I don’t care.  And I can’t just turn that off.

Because it’s the Browns vs. the Steelers with nothing on line and I want to win. Call me foolish, call me petty, just don’t call me late to watch my team make this guy cry again during his final home game if we can possibly make that happen.

So what do you say, boys? Let’s get out there and hurt our long-term prospects tonight. Go Browns. 

 

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