The Cleveland Browns have one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports. These fans are passionate, knowledgeable, and very patient. For the last thirteen years, they have endured just two winning seasons. So just how does this fan base stay positive?
The answer is tailgating.
There are not many other teams with people that tailgate like the fans of Cleveland. One particular group is “The Browns Bunch”. Founded by Jason Darwish and his cousin Chuck Bohatka in 2005, the group was originally titled the “Braylon Bunch”. However, when the whiny Braylon Edwards left Cleveland, the group changed their name.
With seventeen active members, the Browns Bunch’s mission is simple: To host one of the best and most unique tailgating experiences ever seen. They like to make sure that people have a great time and walk into the stadium with smile on their face, because they know there’s a good chance that will all change by 4 pm. The crew offers loud music, food and drink, games, and a great time before the game.
Located in the Muni Lot Section B at about 7 am during home games, the Bunch does it part to help the community too. Every year, they host an annual charity event every July called “Dawgs for the Dogs”. It’s to help raise money and awareness for the Cleveland Animal Protective League. They typically get about 450 people to attend the event, as well as Browns’ players and some local radio/tv/media personalities.
Darwish, known as “Wish” across the whole state of Ohio, isn’t all about the glitz and glam either. Although he does have a very nicely painted 1990 Chevy G20 van littered in logos and such, he and his crew know their football too. Asking Wish about the season and direction Cleveland is heading, he carries the same tone as many fans, saying “I think that the Browns have some good talent. I just don’t think we have the right head coach to make this talent work. We need a more vocal and emotional head coach”.
On the side of the infamous van, a sticker once read “In Holmgren We Trust”. Like many fans, Wish and the Bunch believe Jimmy Haslam is the answer as the sticker now reads “In Haslam We Trust”. Wish went on to say, “It’s too early to tell, but I love the fact that he actually attends and watches the games (like an owner should) and he seems to have ideas and plans in place for improvements. He seems like a guy who doesn’t except failure as an option… and I really like that!”
The Bunch believes that the Browns lack that player that puts fear into the other team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. “I would like to see someone on our defense take on the leadership role, like you see Ray Lewis doing in Baltimore. I want to see that kind of intensity and that kind of passion.” said Wish.
With seven games left in this rough season, Wish like many, believes there is room for improvement and the Browns can only get better. Asking him about what is going to happen in the second half of the season, he said “I think the Browns will find a way to win two to three more games at best. To me, this year is just an evaluation of talent. Let’s see what we have to move forward with, and do just that. There’s Always Next Year.”
While it’s some times difficult to root and watch the Browns, it’s fans and groups like the Browns Bunch that help us drown in our sorrows. As the Browns inch closer and closer every year to being a playoff caliber club, another new era gives us hope.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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