It’s that time of year again. Free agency has slowed, the draft is over and social media is filled with images and videos of Browns voluntary OTA practices. Fans are starting to get excited. Last week, the fans were engaged in hand-wringing because the beginning of the schedule was incredibly tough. But throw a video of quarterback Deshaun Watson throwing a pass to wide receiver Elijah Moore against the air and the Browns are Super Bowl bound.
Doubters are fully convinced the team will self-destruct again. As I write this, I’m listening to a Cleveland sports talk radio station, and I’ve heard the phrase “same old Browns” at least a dozen times. Should I start to be optimistic about this Browns season as I have in past seasons? NBA experts told me all the Cavs had to do is at least finish fourth in the Eastern Conference to get a home series and they could probably advance past the first round.
MLB experts told me this young Guardians team wouldn’t struggle out of the gate like last year because the players were more experienced.
I understand that Browns fans aren’t the only NFL fans in the league brimming with optimism. Every NFL fan can convince themselves their team has a chance. Why do we do this?
No, we’re not gluttons for punishment. There’s actually a psychological premise that explains this phenomenon. It’s called the Gambler’s Fallacy, and is defined as ” the incorrect belief that, if a particular event occurs more frequently than normal during the past, it is less likely to happen in the future (or vice versa), when it has otherwise been established that the probability of such events does not depend on what has happened in the past.”
Basically, it’s the belief that an event is “due.” You hear it when people talk about the Guardians when they say the team will start winning because they’re due. Sometimes a fan can’t help themselves after years of heartache feeling it’s their team’s time, they’re due. if you’re sitting at a roulette table and red comes up six times in a row, you’re compelled to start betting black. It’s human nature.
Should I be optimistic? A little. I’m smart enough to know the roster is very talented. The additions of Jim Schwartz and Bubba Ventrone will definitely improve the defense and the special teams. Head coach Kevin Stefanski helped Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield become playoff quarterbacks. Last year career backup Jacoby Brissett had his best year statistically under Stefanski. Now he’s working with a quarterback who has shown to be a franchise QB. The new free agents are telling the local media they’re excited to be with the Browns, but that might be their contracts talking. Yet as a Browns fan, I’m excited to hear their positivity. Browns GM Andrew Berry had a very impressive off-season, probably his best so far. For better or worse, his actions showed me this team is “all in” and that’s an unfamiliar feeling. Am I drinking the orange Kool-Aid yet? Not quite, but I’ve got everything ready to make a pitcher full.