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Football, Family and Friendships Part 2

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Football, Family and Friendships Part 2

Part 2


Part 2. Author's note: When I initially began writing this article, the purpose was to just talk about bonding. The title really says it all. But once I started on what I thought would be a project of a few hours turned into an actual passion project that took a few days. Just thinking about the times spent on this game really stirred emotions. With that being said, I hope that you enjoy Part 2.


And finally! The reason and purpose behind this article. BONDING! - 


When I initially got the inspiration to write this article, I got bonding. Like the title says, friendships can be made through football and families maintained. And the reason has everything to do with sports. Especially football. 


Through football, I have seen grown men become friends. And not just friends like, "Hey, I'm going out, wanna meet at the bar?" Or just casually hitting another guy up based on the football team and how they are doing. No, I mean making friends like visiting each other when the buddies live in different cities. And when the buddies get together, arms are held wide for daps and hugs of actual friendship love. I mean not just a solo trip to hang out with the fellas, but like the merging and introductions of entire families. Friends have gotten to the point where they attend each other's weddings and become groomsmen in the party and god-parents to kids. And again, all over the love of a sport and a team. 


One of the nearest and dearest times was when I witnessed a friendship develop at the NFL Draft in Chicago. While my hometown is Cleveland, Ohio, I live in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago got the first-ever NFL Draft that was not held in New York, New York. Traditionally the draft was a room full of GM's picking draft-eligible players, mostly from college, and other routes to the draft. Then it grew to a TV event (Again… It's only entertainment!) Then to earn even more money for the league, it has now become a mobile party for different cities held in April. 


So let's set the scene here. You have Chicago as the backdrop and the host city for the draft. Again this was the first city awarded this new mobile draft format. In fact, Chicago hosted the draft two times before it was moved the following year to the city of Philadelphia. The event was held between Michigan, and Columbus drives in the city's historic Grant Park. There were multiple events related to the NFL. Jerseys, championship ring displays, a team shop forever team represented in the NFL. A print-on-demand store was available so that fans could get whatever they could think of printed on their favorite team's jersey or t-shirt. These are just a few of the events that we are on-site for fans to enjoy. The draft audio feed was going on. Every pick was sounded over loudspeakers so that fans could keep up with all of the draft day action. The trades were announced. The footage of teams celebrating or booing in their home cities was shown. It was all there! And it was an event to behold. And even though you were paying for items in hand, if you just wanted to stroll around and take in the scenery, the event was free! 


As any fan from out of town would do, my friends and I would bark at fans that we saw that happened to be wearing Browns gear as well. We consider ourselves dawgs, so the bark is appropriate as a greeting. So here we are, barking at fans having a great time, taking pictures with fans of our team and fans who were so creatively dressed up as mascots from their favorite teams. It was a rip-roaring great time! As we are lining up to take one of our fella's trip pictures, a fellow fan asks, "Hey, do you guys mind if I get in the picture with y'all. I'm from Wisconsin and don't get to meet many REAL Browns fans." We weren't going to say no to a statement like that, so we happily asked him to get on in on the picture. We all pose, take our pictures, and just like kids on a schoolyard, we made a new pal. And the friendship hasn't been temporary or one way at all. This relationship is what inspired this article. In part 1 of this article, I tried to paint the picture of where you can see guys meeting up. Where you can see people merging families. We share BBQ recipes and techniques. Everyone offers their favorite cigar of the moment. And there are always discussions over what beer and what bourbon is popular.


There is a text thread for game days where the tone is either joyful or, as of late, more times than not, just flat out depressing. And before this connection, our new buddy had never even been to the city of Cleveland! He is a fan from afar because that was just the team he identified with. Our new pal identified with the city's lunch pail and hard hat mentality. The sense of a team environment and a sense of having a stand-up work ethic.


Additionally, the suffering is not in silence or solitude. But the suffering we do as fans we share. There is this "bond" that it's "Cleveland against the WORLD!" It's a slogan found in various places, including some famous t-shirt brands. And while to outsiders, it's just a slogan, to us, it's a mantra to live by! Cleveland is constantly looked at as a place of despair. People who aren't even old enough to remember still bring up that the river caught fire! Celebrities make up songs and stand-up routines that contribute to the national view of a town that is just sad. And living in Chicago, I had to constantly hear the quote by a one-time Chicago Bulls player. After they lost a playoff game to the Cleveland Cavaliers, "What's so nice about Cleveland? Who goes to Cleveland to vacation?" And while I have to admit that the way he put it was funny. They lost, and he was bitter. 


For those of us fortunate enough to be born in or near the "Mistake by the Lake," We love our hometown, and sometimes we love it from afar. Career choices, relationships, or just wanting to see the world take people on tour all of the time. Sometimes, we never know where we are going to land. But that's just a part of being human. On the one hand, the desire to roam, and on the other, having home always as where the heart is, and missing friends and family that might still be there.


I currently live in Chicago, and I don't have plans on moving. This city has offered me a lot, and I do my best to take advantage of all this city gives me and has to offer. Sometimes I feel like those people from here who haven't lived anywhere else take Chicago for granted. Now don't get me wrong, there is a TON to complain about. But quite honestly, I've been searching for a place that doesn't have anything to complain about. Once you find it, please let me know. I know there are different strokes for different folks and that the cup of tea that's served here isn't for everybody. And that's fine. But in this writer's opinion, here will do until something better comes along. 


I'm from Cleveland, Ohio. What some might say is unfortunate. Some will say I'm crazy to admit that I'm a die-hard Browns fan, down to the socks! (I really do own multiple pairs of Cleveland Browns socks) The Browns were the team I was raised on and grew up rooting for. It's the first sports team that I remember. The Browns are the first team I remember seeing on TV or hearing on the radio in terms of football. I have fond memories of watching games with my dad, grandfather, and uncles. I remember watching final drives where we crossed our fingers, toes, and eyes! Hoping for our team to win. I remember getting in trouble for saying that I hated John Elway and calling him "Bucky Bronco." I was told that I wasn't old enough to talk about adults that way. Actually, I was just repeating what I had heard, and I still didn't like him. When they finally won their 2 back to back Super Bowls in the late 90's I wasn't feeling it at all. Now I did like Terrell Davis and his running style. He had that upright running stance where he looked like a soldier running into combat! As far as Mr. Elway, I was still out.


That's the love and the oddity of sports. Sometimes we root for the name on the front of the jersey, and sometimes we root for the name on the back. Most of the time, I'm a guy rooting for the team. And that's especially true when it comes to the Browns.


The Browns have been a team that has been so bad for so long. I'm the type of person to watch a bad movie until the end. I used to be a person that would watch an entire season of a bad TV show just to see what happens! And that is part of the reason that I want to hang out with this team until they finally win it all. What do I look like jumping off the bandwagon cause things aren't going how I want them to go. I don't run in life, so I don't see why I'd run now. Especially concerning something as unimportant in the grand scheme of life as sports. 


My team loses. A lot! And while I can choose to "GO ROOT FOR THE BEARS!" Because I currently reside in Chicago, and this is what my friends tell me when I disagree with some of their Browns takes. That's not what I'm going to do. And that's not what the true fans of Cleveland do. Honestly, if I was going jump ship and transfer my fandom, it wouldn't be to the Bears. I haven't decided who it would be to, but it wouldn't be them. I'm not entirely a fan-free agent, so I guess I'll be staying put.


Earlier I mentioned a popular t-shirt theme. Well, there is another t-shirt that I have, love and value. It says, "Hardly Home Always Reppin." As proved by this article, that statement reigns true for me. 


The city of Cleveland fought hard to keep the colors, the names, the history and team records that made the team, and the nostalgia from when they were a consistent winning franchise. Watching that fight by Cleveland and then-Mayor Mike White was truly something to behold. Sports can be an ugly business. Teams get tired of dealing with cities and move. Owners and GMs cut players at the drop of a dime. This sometimes leaves players uncertain of their financial future. And the ugliness and deceit isn't always just on the owners' side. All too often, players who know for sure that they are past their prime convince teams that they have a few more years left in the tank. That leads to the player getting one last contract to pad the retirement account. Can you really be mad at a player for getting one last check? Two things here. First, I know that if I had the opportunity to earn some money, I'd take advantage! They must be paying for whatever capacity the player is contributing to a team. The player can be there for leadership or just a sounding board for the younger players. Secondly, It's not our money! It's the owner's money. Fan's too often get caught up in salary arguments when it's not even their own coins that the fan is counting! Earn while the earning is good, and don't count another person's pockets!


There's always the saying that things are just business and not personal. But to me, that didn't seem to be the case with Art Modell. In his sports ownership history, this is a person who fired what some would consider one of the best football coaches of all time, Paul Brown, over personal issues. And then fired what I and most would consider the greatest professional football coach of All-Time currently and possibly for an entire lifetime Bill Belichick. Again for what seemed to be personal. Art Modell saw Cleveland's other two professional sports teams, the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers, getting new shiny toys. Arenas that were built to pack in the fans and make more money than probably even he could imagine. Art Modell tried to take the team in the middle of the night to Baltimore to become the Browns. It again seemed personal. 


The city of Cleveland put up a fight that no other city had in recent memory. The majority of the time, when a team relocates from one city to another, it's all on the owner. The city being relocated from might offer some deal to stay, but once the team is on its way, it is usually gone. For example, I point to basketball and the NBA for a team moving. The current Utah Jazz were once the basketball franchise for the city of New Orleans. New Orleans and Jazz just go together. No offense to the city of Utah, because it is a beautiful place, with a gorgeous mountain range. But please explain to me what is Jazzy about Utah? Same for the current Los Angles Lakers. A great franchise that has a history of winning. Still, the original franchise belonged to the city of Minneapolis, in Minnesota, also known as "The Land of 10,000 lakes", hence the "Lakers" team name while they were there. 


While the franchise did move with Mr. Modell, the city got to keep the Browns. That's important, and that is special. And as a fan of the team, win, lose or draw, I'm not going to give up on them because the city didn't give up on the name.


People will tell you that it's silly to root for fabric. Owners, coaches, and athletes are vastly overpaid. And while I can certainly listen to the argument surrounding those opinions. Until someone comes up with a way for all of us in the human race to be equal as far as earning on an equal level. This form of entertainment is one that genuinely imitates life. Some guys get paid very well. Some guys don't. Some athletes on the team deserve more. Some don't deserve to be allowed to show up for practice. Same with life. We have to ask ourselves and determine what we deserve. Are we elite and deserve a lot, or are we just showing up for a check? Do we have a boss that we will never meet, and we are working our asses off to satisfy company accomplishments? What are you and I really doing when it comes to figuring out this game called life? While we are all trying to figure it out, let's just take some downtime and bond over football. 


-Severen Henderson


Severen Henderson is the Owner-Operator of Department3C. You can connect with him through email - info@department3c.com You can also connect with me personally on most social media networks @iamsevy and for business @department3c. 


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