CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns fans from different parts of the country and the world have cheered on their beloved team through the highs and lows.
Fans have seen the Browns win titles and be playoff contenders. In 2019, the Browns recorded their 12th straight losing season. They haven’t gone to the playoffs since 2002, but their supporters remain arguably the NFL’s most loyal fanbase. Last 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.
The authors of these essays have one thing in common: an enthusiasm for the Browns. By the time we’re through, we plan to tell all your stories.
Today’s fan is Stephen McCoey, who lives in Belfast, Ireland, with his wife of 13 years, Cara. McCoey and his wife have two daughters ages 11 and 9.
Who is he?
McCoey, 42, has been an accountant for eight years. About six years ago, he did some work in Nashville, Tennessee, traveling back and forth from Ireland to the U.S every month.
While in Nashville, McCoey began following the NFL again. He had followed the league in the 1980s when he was a kid, and didn’t like Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway. McCoey has attended one of the NFL’s London games at Wembley Stadium, a matchup of the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals in 2016.
Taking the hurt that comes with the Browns
When McCoey was in Nashville, he saw some Titans games, but couldn’t establish a connection. He said in his submission that in 2015, he wanted to find a team he could embrace. As he read about Browns history, he saw how they had regularly been at the bottom of the NFL standings.
“I just thought you know what, I want to root for the underdog and that’s a good project to get behind and go for those guys,” McCoey said in a Skype interview.
With Cleveland being a working-class city, McCoey thinks that aspect helped him connect with the franchise.
McCoey considers Belfast similar to Cleveland. According to Belfast City Council, the city has a population of 340,220. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Cleveland’s population estimate for July 2018 was 383,793. McCoey said the cities share a working-class mindset and has withstood hard times.
“And you guys have a little bit of a reputation from the ‘70s and going through to the ‘80s of kind of being a little bit of a tough time to be in,” McCoey said. “I think that’s another reason that kind of led me to go to Cleveland.”
Though McCoey hasn’t been a Browns fan long, he witnessed their 0-16 season in 2017. He questioned his fandom a bit when the Browns went 1-15 in 2016 season, only beating the Chargers.
“There was a few moments that season as well when I was like ‘Oh, what have I done?’” McCoey said.
McCoey fondly remembers the back half of the 2018 season, when the Browns revived their fans’ hopes by winning five of their last eight. McCoey has never attended a Browns game, and hopes the team makes another London visit, as they did in 2017 in a game against Minnesota.
“We are talking about going potentially (to) Disneyland, and doing that in 2021,” McCoey said. “So fingers crossed we could maybe get a trip up to Cleveland then.”