TIME

CLEVELAND ROCKS NO, REALLY

Less than two years after failing to win a single game, the Browns and their city are riding high
Fans clamor for Baker Mayfield, who set the NFL rookie record for TD passes in 2018, at a Browns scrimmage in August

TO BE A CLEVELANDER IS TO SPEAK TWO LANGUAGES. There is the tongue of the country, and then a distinctive local idiom known to linguists as Browns bemoaning. A fine example of this was on display recently at the Flat Iron bar, in the shadow of the rusted rail bridges that cross the Cuyahoga River, as barber Nick Hilf rattled off the litany of heartbreak that has befallen the city’s beloved NFL team. The Drive: when Denver’s John Elway marched downfield to tie the 1986 AFC championship game, which the Broncos won in overtime. The Fumble: when Cleveland’s Earnest Byner coughed it up in the AFC title game the very next year, again against the Broncos, again costing the Browns a shot at the Super Bowl. And, of course, the Move: when team owner Art Modell relocated the Browns to Baltimore for a sweetheart stadium deal. Thus, the team that for 50 years had been the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Ravens. The current Browns began play in 1999 using the same name and logo of the once proud original franchise. And the two decades since have not been pretty. “I cried when they left,” says Hilf over a pour of bourbon. “And

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