Back when I was a mere youth, my father took me to my first Cleveland Browns game.
I remember very little of my adventures into old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the site at which the Browns played before Art Modell Houdini’d away the team in 1995. All I can recall is the cavernous overhang above our seats near the 50-yard line and the fact that we played this group called the “Bears.” My dad also claims he took me to the final home game before the franchise left for Baltimore.
When I had grown a bit older and much, much taller, Cleveland was granted one of the new franchises when the NFL expanded in 1999. Picking up where we left off, Papa Q and I attended the very first game in the new Cleveland Browns stadium, a preseason matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
This time around, I can fondly recall the numerous games that I attended with my dad.
I didn’t know much about sports when I was little. The Indians’ success in the ‘90s introduced me to the adrenaline rush that surrounds the games. It wasn’t until I started going to the Browns games with my dad that I became the obsessed sports fan I am today.
Every year, Papa Q, a season ticket holder dating back to the ‘80s, would take me to a few games. Oftentimes, these events would be the most I would see of my dad for the entire month. The man was the definition of a workaholic, often trudging through 80-plus hour work weeks on several different time shifts to support my family.
These games were my chance to bond with my dad. Although the Browns were normally atrocious through my formative years, I didn’t care as much as I could have. Even in a loss, I truly appreciated the three hours spent with my dad.
Since I’ve come to Gannon, I’ve missed many chances to go to these games with my dad. However, over break, Papa Q and I attended the Browns game against the Carolina Panthers, our first game together in more than two years.
As usual, the Browns nearly ripped our hearts out, a common trend in Cleveland sports. Even as we complained about our team following the 24-23 victory, I couldn’t truly grumble about the event. I would have accepted a blowout if it meant getting that chance to see the Browns with Papa Q.
I’m forever a Cleveland sports die-hard because of that man. Maybe that’s why I’m so connected to the Browns – because of all those games together, they really feel like family.