Fans’ opening-loss gripes grow old in Cleveland

Fans’ opening-loss gripes grow old in Cleveland

You’ve heard this phrase a woozillion times:

“There oughtta be a law.”

It’s true, and furthermore, if there is a law, violators should be fined and/or jailed for condoning ill-willed anarchy.

Are you listening, Cleveland Browns fans? Some of you might benefit from some tough love. There oughtta be a law to prevent you from calling the sports-talk radio station the day after “your team” loses its season-opener, to stop you from phoning in to rip this player or that player, this coach or that coach, as if the planet was headed for complete demise.

You should be used to it by now. The Browns have now lost 17-straight season-openers. And yet, after Sunday’s setback to AFC defending champion Kansas City, you couldn’t resist the urge to dial in and take down the very franchise you worship.

The only choice early in the week was to turn the radio off.

There oughtta be a law.

But if you must, blame punter Jamie Gillan for muffing a fourth-quarter snap and allowing himself to be tackled at his own 15-yard line, giving Chiefs illusionist Patrick Mahomes a short field with the game on the line. Gillan is the easiest target.

Three plays later KC was back in the end zone on a short pass to TE Travis Kelce — and possessing a 33-29 lead after trailing 22-10 at halftime.

Here’s the problem with all the Gillan-bashing: When that snafu occurred, there were more than eight minutes to play in the game. Even had Gillan gotten the punt off, you can’t assume the Chiefs would have been prevented from taking the ball right back down the field for a go-ahead score. Goodness knows Mahomes has been seen doing that a time or two.

Maybe the Browns should have been able to chew up more clock prior to Gillan’s gaffe, keeping the ball out of Mahomes’ (and Gillan’s) hands.

By the way, didn’t the Browns’ reliable running back, Nick Chubb, also cough up the football with six minutes left in the third?

Didn’t the Browns give up a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill with 10:24 remaining in the game?

Yes, there oughtta be a law against blaming any one player for the defeat when football is always referred to as a team sport. There was a laundry list of factors that made Gillan’s botched punt attempt so glaring.

Along that same vein, there oughtta be a law to prohibit heaping condemnation on quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose stumblin’-bumblin’ bad throw resulted in an interception on Cleveland’s last possession. Had it not been for Mayfield’s crisp play and overall leadership in the early going, Cleveland wouldn’t have been able to mount the upset bid in the first place.

And don’t cringe at the notion of an “upset.” Before kick-off, how many so-called “Browns fans” were actually expecting their team to win? Many who called the radio station prior to the game said they would be OK with a loss — providing the Browns made a good showing against a Chiefs team listed among the top three in the league.

The one member of the Browns unwilling to accept a “moral victory” or a “good showing” was head coach Kevin Stefanski, who went to bed Sunday night knowing his team didn’t play 60 minutes of winning football and let the Chiefs wiggle off the hook. He knew the Browns beat the Browns at Arrowhead Stadium to open the 2021 season, a long journey that will have countless highs and lows as the action progresses.

Yes, even Stefanski found himself directly in the line of verbal fire following last Sunday’s implosion. Good news: he has his big-boy pants on. He knows what he signed up for. He knows what the expectations are. He created them.

Did Browns fans really and truly believe their team was going to go 17-0 en route to the playoffs?

“We shoulda won,” numerous disgruntled, downright annoying callers barked.

There oughtta be a law against saying that too.

Fine? Jail time? Both!