I've had a few hours to digest the news that the Cleveland Browns have traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. I'm not gonna lie - I lost it yesterday when I heard the news. Lost it. Went insane. Was completely outta control. And to make matters worse, I was at a bar getting ready to go on the internet for my two-hour sports talk show where, I thought, I would be extolling the virtues of an Indians team making a run for the playoffs. Instead, I found myself standing outside on Ontario Street screaming at the top of my lungs to the heavens "WHY DO YOU HATE US?" I broke every personal rule I have about public behavior, tweeting with class, staying positive. I let my emotions and my passion for football rule the night. It wasn't pretty and, unfortunately, there is an archive of my rant on www.nostaticradio.com so that it will be around forever. Great.
Now that the morning has arrived, I can't say I am any happier than I was last night. Oh, I'm calmer, but not any happier. I have soooo many questions and problems with the mood that I may run out of "paper" before putting them all down. But that's not what I want to talk about today. As I reflect on the myriad of emotions that I went through in the past 18 hours, I am reminded of DABDA - the Kubler-Ross model commonly referred to as the "five stages of grief" we know of when discussing death. I think in a very real way our hopes for this football season died last night and I'm going through the stages now. Perhaps you are too and perhaps by looking at each stage, we can help each other through this season...
1. Denial - As I sat in City Tap Cleveland with my friend @TallJohn78, we're checking twitter and chatting when he says "Adam Scheffter just tweeted that the Browns traded TRich to the Colts." I laughed and said "the fake Adam?" and he laughed, and looked again, and said "I think it's the verified account!" NOOO! So we both start scanning twitter - looking for anything to confirm or deny. I found a post from @SportCenter saying the same thing. And then I got a text message from @Munchonsports. No more denial for me.
2. Anger - what I remember most is the people looking at John and I as if we were crazy when we first started yelling. But slowly you could hear the volume in the bar pick up as others saw the same new we did. When Clarence the manager changed the TV station to ESPN and it was splashed up there big as day the entire place erupted. I couldn't sit still. I was shaking. I walked outside, screamed, scared at least a dozen folks having a drink or a meal outside (sorry, btw), and just kept pacing. While anyone who dreams of being in the media would love the opportunity ahead of me, I was dreading the fact that I was about to do two hours of live sports talk on the internet. I just KNEW I was not in control of myself and it was a bad idea. But I did it. Got through it. I may never listen to the archive because I just don't want to know how angry I was. And I'm still angry today. I may move back and forth into anger quite a bit over the next 15 weeks.
3. Bargaining - today, the media is trying to justify this move, trying to tell all of us why it's a great trade, why we should believe that THIS time is different from 2011, that THIS group of guys will actually get the right player to change our fate. If we can just get through this awful season, still support the team, still give them our money then in return they will get us the Franchise QB that everyone says we need. Time will tell.
4. Depression - Why go to games? Why bother to even play the games? Just tell the NFL we give up, put a white flag outside the stadium, clean out your lockers and go home. Because they've clearly given up on this season. And I DO understand that sometimes you have to get worse to get better, go backwards to go forwards. I DO understand the need for a great QB. It's trusting this new group to get it right when none of the others before them did that I struggle with. It's looking back at the 2013 draft and all the criticism they took for trading away all of their picks and only coming back with 4 players... In 2011 we were told to trust the regime, they knew what they were doing, and we had a year of awful football that turned into Trent Richardson. Now this new group is basically saying TRich was a mistake, sorry you suffered for nothing, but we are the smartest guys in the room, we know best, trust US to get this right while you suffer through another awful year of football.... And you wonder why I'm depressed?
5. Acceptance - This one will take a while. And frankly, it may not come until after Day 1 of the 2014 NFL draft. Because God forbid we don't get the #1 pick. Why the top pick you ask? Because I will accept NO MORE EXCUSES. If we end up at #2 or #3, that gives them room if it doesn't work out to say, well, we really wanted a different guy but he was gone when it was our turn. No. We must be #1. And they must be right. Because that is the only way this fan base can accept what is being done, accept being misled, and find a way to hold on to the passion that makes Browns Fans what they are - a fan base that stays by their team whether they are bad by accident or on purpose.
We'll get through this, Browns Fans. We always do. And maybe that's the problem, why it's so easy for whomever is in charge to get away with things they couldn't do in other cities.... Because no matter what they do to us, we remain loyal to our team. But really, what other choice to we have?