Cleveland Browns Fans: Are You Experiencing the Five Stages of Grief?

Michael W. YoungmanContributor IIIDecember 17, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 09:  A fan watches the Cleveland Browns against the Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Recently, I have come to the conclusion that as Cleveland Browns fans, we all need lots of professional help. In working towards a degree in the field of psychology (counseling) I have been introduced to numerous psychological conditions and processes that we, as Browns fans, apparently suffer from.

Everything from schizophrenia and narcissism to bipolar disorder, we appear to suffer many symptoms, but one thing we all have in common is a process known as the five stages of grief. And after this past Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, I feel it is important for all of us to be aware of this grieving process.

Coined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the “Five Stages of Grief” is a theory meant to explain how we as individuals deal with death and dying. But the condition of grief is remarkably similar to being a Cleveland Browns fan.

So let us go through the five stages and identify possible trends in your life in order to better understand them and hopefully knowing these stages, you can provide support to your fellow Browns fans.


This stage normally occurs during the offseason or before a game. We completely deny the existence of records and facts and go with an emotionally-charged belief that our Browns can win. We take small signs such as offseason moves or news during the week and grow that into an irrational belief that maybe, just maybe, the Browns will make it through.



This stage almost always occurs during the game itself or during the offseason in free agency. We see that things are not going in the right direction (yet again) and then we become filled with rage. Normally, the anger sets into motion the rejection of all things Cleveland Browns and the swearing our allegiance to an unhealthy element such as the Steelers or Ravens. Thankfully this stage is short-lived and we often do not follow through with our threats of “jumping ship.”



At this stage we look for ANYTHING positive. We start pleading to the television and the team that if the Browns win this one, we will promise to do whatever our wives say, give up beer or promise to watch less Sports Center. This bargaining rarely leads to positive results and in the few circumstances that it does, the bargains are short-lived. However, there is evidence that points to this as where superstitious ritual comes from.



Often after the game or season is over, we will go into a depressive state in which we will do everything to avoid the pain. Some of us will hide our team apparel in the back of the closet. Still others go on eating binges. In fact, this is one reason why the average football fan develops a “beer belly.” It’s a physical result of team-related depression. So if you have a gut, now you know it’s not your fault.



At some point or points, we all accept that our team, win or lose, is our Browns. We deal with the result of yet another loss or losing season and accept it as a natural part of life. Like a hurricane, you know it’s coming, you just have to deal with it.


If you or someone you know is experiencing one of these stages do not be alarmed. It is a natural process that all Browns fans must go through every once in a while. But now that you are more aware of the process, you are better equipped to deal with it. Let’s all help one another through this process.