CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns fans from around the country and the world have followed their favorite team through the best and worst times.
Fans have seen the Browns win championships, but they have also seen a plethora of losing seasons.
Still, they possess the kind of loyalty that’s arguably the strongest of any NFL fanbase. During the spring, we asked you to share your story of “Why I’m a Browns Fan.” More than 600 sent in submissions. Today, we’ll share another one of your stories as Week 15 of the NFL season rolls around.
The authors of these essays have one thing in common: Passion and enthusiasm for the Browns. By the time we’re through, we plan to tell all your stories.
Today’s fan is John Bloomfield, who lives in suburban Washington, D.C. with his wife of 64 years, Barbara.
Who is he?
Bloomfield, 86, is retired, and he used to work at his former family business, the Bloomfield Dress Company. He also worked at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in Cleveland before moving to Toledo. Bloomfield stayed with Northwestern Mutual in Toledo, and in 2001 moved to the Washington suburbs.
Bloomfield has been a Browns fan since the team came to the city in 1946. He and his wife have three sons, three daughters-in-laws, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A fan from the beginning
Before the Browns came to Cleveland, the city’s pro football team was the Rams. The Rams played their last season in Cleveland in 1945, winning the NFL championship 15-14 against the Washington Redskins.
Bloomfield remembers being at the game with his dad and brother in cold weather. His mom said he could only go for half the game because of how cold it was. Once the game was over, Bloomfield said the Rams announced they were moving to Los Angeles.
The Browns would join the All-America Football Conference in 1946, giving Cleveland a new team after its old one left.
Bloomfield wrote in his submission that his dad took him and his brother to the Browns’ first game on Sept. 6, 1946, when Cleveland defeated the Miami Seahawks 44-0. Since then, Bloomfield has been a fan.
“It was a ritual. Every Sunday, when they played a game,” Bloomfield said over the phone. “I went with some friends of mine, my dad. We’d drive down, and you know that was the old Municipal Stadium.”
A lover of football throughout his life, Bloomfield played center and linebacker in high school at Shaker Heights. While growing up, he lived near legendary coach Paul Brown, and played high-school football with Brown’s son, Mike, now the owner of the Cincinnati Bengals.
When he was a kid, Bloomfield got a special gift for a couple of his birthdays. Bloomfield’s father knew the Browns’ team dentist, and in 1946 and 1947 some Browns legends surprised Bloomfield at two of his parties. Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham came in 1946, and Lou Groza, Dante Lavelli and Bill Boedeker came in 1947. Bloomfield said he got to talk and interact with them.
“It was very exciting,” Bloomfield said of the guests. “Not only because they were pros, but in those days the Browns were virtually champions every year.”
The Browns won the AAFC title from 1946-49, each of the league’s four seasons. When they joined the NFL in 1950, they won the championship that season, as well as in 1954, 1955 and 1964.
As Bloomfield got older, his fandom remained. He moved to Toledo in 1967, and he would drive back to Cleveland to take advantage of his season tickets. He hasn’t been to a Browns game since Oct. 13, 2008, when they defeated the New York Giants, the reigning Super Bowl champions at the time.
Now, Bloomfield has a man cave set up, complete with NFL Sunday Ticket. “I have a room here where I have five TVs in one room,” he said.
Though the Browns haven’t been good for essentially a generation, he still watches every Sunday with his oldest son.
“We have a big set where we watch the Browns, and then four smaller sets around the side where we watch the other games,” Bloomfield said.