CLEVELAND — “Believeland” is cautiously living up to its name. For one more week, at least.
The hype that had surrounded the Browns leading into Week 1 — on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a trendy Super Bowl pick and the toast of the town in the offseason — took a hit after last Sunday’s 43-13 loss to the Titans, but it has not yet disappeared. This is a city that has experienced losing football seasons in each of the past 11 falls, and 18 of the past 20, but a season-opening loss has not set off all the alarms and whistles just yet.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel the ‘Oh no,’ ” Dwane, a Browns fan since 1980, said this week outside the team’s pro shop at FirstEnergy Stadium. “It didn’t feel like, ‘Maybe next year.’ That was our saying for years. I didn’t get that in my soul that it was maybe next year. I think everybody still believes they can do something.”
Coach Freddie Kitchens said early in the week that “what we have to refrain from doing right now is overreacting,” and most Browns fans seem to be complying. They finally have the talent for this year to be different, fans believe, even if the fear of another lost season is never fully out of their minds.
There are still Browns flags and signs flying outside restaurants and bars downtown, and fans earlier in the week were still purchasing jerseys from the pro shop, not returning them. A sampling of local sports talk radio gave the sense that the sky was not yet falling and that it was just one bad game — filled with 18 penalties against the Browns, who may have beat themselves as much as the Titans did.
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