Before a football team finally returned to the Cleveland following a four-year hiatus, fans were salivating.
This great sports town suffered a heartbreaking departure in the offseason of 1995, and this proud institution of Cleveland Browns football was ready to get back to its (moderately successful) winning ways once again.
Unfortunately, only one playoff berth has come out of the 14 years since a Tim Couch-led expansion squad came to town. Many mediocre quarterbacks have come through, and franchise left tackle Joe Thomas has protected quite a few of them without much on-field reward.
“I think about the day of me running out of the tunnel in Cleveland Browns Stadium for a home playoff game,” Thomas told ESPNCleveland.com. “That’s my dream. That’s why I show up every day.”
But if that dream never happens, Thomas said “It’d be hard. I grew up playing football since I was 12 years old. At every level, I’ve been on winning teams. I never experienced a losing season since my second year in the NFL. Obviously, that would be a huge disappointment, just because it’s no fun playing in the NFL when you’re going 4-12 every year.”
It’s hard not to feel for a guy who’s mounting himself a Hall of Fame career as the best pass protector this side of the millennium. On the bright side, this offseason looks like the start of something special.
It was hard to say that with the Colt McCoy or Charlie Frye teams, and the list of hapless rosters goes on. The only obstacle standing in the way now is the quarterback position, where Brandon Weeden must make a drastic improvement for the squad to capitalize on an excellent offseason haul and underrated young core.