A few years ago, I got into the show "30 Rock." It was witty, satirical and interesting. I enjoyed the last part of the first season and loved the second season.
The DVR was set for the season three premiere, which I was certain I would enjoy.
And then I watched the episode, called "Do-over."
It was not that the show was offensive, but I found it unfunny. I had such high hopes for the season's opener, and it was such a disappointment, that I stopped watching the show entirely.
OK, that's not true. I watched one more episode of the series, but only because my comic idol, Steve Martin, was guest starring.
The point is, sometimes a bad beginning can turn you off to a product.
Which brings us to Sunday's Browns' game.
For once, it seemed like the team was heading in the right direction. The Browns appeared to have a good draft, a stable quarterback in Colt McCoy, and a respected, if unproven, coach in Pat Shurmur. In addition, Cleveland opened the season at home with the Bengals, generally considered to be the most poorly run franchise in the league.
The Bengals were starting QB Andy Dalton, a rookie. They had parted with a number of big name players.
Surely, the Browns couldn't screw this up, could they?
Of course they could, and they did. And sorry I called you Shirley.
The Browns played the first quarter. They had seven penalties, trailed 10-0 and looked about as focused as the pictures posted of me on Facebook.
At least I can tell people I'm better looking in person. What's the Browns' excuse? A shortened training camp? Not playing the starters the last preseason game? A bad pregame meal?
Cleveland recovered, and led 17-13 in the fourth quarter. Then the Bengals (now being QB'd by former Toledo Rocket and Brown Bruce Gradkowski) caught the Browns off guard by quick-snapping when the defense was still coming out of the huddle. What followed was the easiest touchdown pass ever completed, as Gradkowski floated a pass to a wide open A.J. Green for a touchdown.
Essentially, the game was over there, although we still got to see McCoy, on a fourth and long, try to complete a screen to his center, Alex Mack.
The Browns had a new coach, a new attitude, new leadership, blah, blah, blah.
They lost on opening day, just as they have in 12 of 13 years since 1999.
Which brings us back to "30 Rock." The Browns have an advantage over that show, in that I couldn't fathom ignoring a team I've been addicted to since 1986. Still, a game like that can go a long way to kill whatever optimism fans had coming in.
It was one loss. Another opening loss. By last night, I realized I hadn't really lost faith in Shurmur, McCoy or team president Mike Holmgren. What I was mad about is that the Browns are really good at killing your excitement for a new season. For most fans, the opening of an NFL season is a time to feel like anything is possible. But the Browns always seem to start with a thud, destroying much of that belief.
The Browns probably aren't going to the playoffs, and will be lucky to finish .500. But fans need a reason to hope that this time, after so many changes over the years, the team has finally gotten it right.
Guess we'll have to wait until next week to see that.
I wish my team had a do over.
Zach Baker is the sports editor of The Advertiser-Tribune
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