NFL

Cleveland Browns Can’t Catch a Heckler, Let Alone a Win

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets

As the NFL season began, the Cleveland Browns once again made headlines for the wrong reasons. Many believe this could be a turnaround franchise, as the receiving tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry should be one of the best in the NFL. A recent incident involving a fan, however, showed Cleveland the areas that need improving once again.

The incident

At the season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium, a Browns fans doused Tennessee Titans defensive back Logan Ryan with beer. Throwing things onto the field or at players is one of the most common rules a fan must adhere to when they go to a game. So figuring out which fan did the deed and punishing them is a no-brainer, right? Wrong.

Ryan expressed his appreciation for the Browns after the team announced they’d tracked down the beer-thrower and banned him from future games. However, there was one problem with the situation. Eric Smith, a Cleveland DJ, tweeted that while he’d received a ban from the Browns, he had not been to a single game in nearly a decade. They’d banned the wrong guy.

Fallout for Cleveland

Smith showed a screenshot of the alleged thrower. While the man in the picture did resemble Smith, it was clear that it was not him. The Browns issues a non-correction in an ensuing statement. 

“Our investigation of the fan incident on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium remains ongoing,” the statement said per ESPN. “While we are continuing to gather information and have been in contact with multiple people as part of that process, we have not explicitly identified the individual involved or taken any formal action of punishment at this time.”

Nothing further has come from the incident, but it serves as a reminder that even when things seem to be looking up for some franchises, they get brought back down to earth. What does this say about Cleveland’s regular-season expectations?

The Cleveland Browns start the season

For the first time in years, the Browns entered the season with some positive press. They had a receiving core, a promising young quarterback in Baker Mayfield, and signs of a different season. Although Beckham sat out much of the preseason with an injury, he was ready for the opener, and with it, the attention was on the Browns. 

Unfortunately, the Browns kicked off their first game with a whimper on top of the infamous beer toss. Not only did the team struggle on the field, but Beckham garnered attention by wearing a watch — a clear violation of the NFL’s rules. From 18 penalties to flimsy defense, the Browns could not catch a break. 

A turnaround for the Browns?

To their credit, the Browns trounced the New York Jets in Week 2. Suffering from injuries and ailments, the New York Jets were shorthanded, and the Browns took full advantage in their 23-3 victory. Beckham had a good game, including an 89-yard touchdown catch. Mayfield finished the night on 19-of-35 passing. 

There are still lots of question marks surrounding the Browns, however. The beer incident isn’t directly related to wins, but the ensuing circus added fuel to the fire for those looking to criticize the often-maligned franchise. One thing is certain, with all of these expectations, the Browns need to figure out how to end up on the right side of the headlines and the score sheets.