CLEVELAND, Ohio – When Calvin Sutton was 11 years old, he went on an overnight trip that he reminisces about until this day.
Sutton was a newspaper carrier while growing up in Columbus, and he won a contest with one of the papers he worked for. The prize was going to see a Browns game. A fan of Otto Graham and Marion Motley, Sutton got to see his favorite football team play at their home stadium.
Sutton, 81, is a lifelong Browns fan who lives with his wife, Nona, of 61 years. The two are currently in their winter home in Ave Maria, Florida. During the summers they live in Westerville, Ohio. While growing up, Sutton’s connection and affinity for the Browns was simple. They were dominant during his formative years and were relatively local, with Cleveland just about two hours up I-71.
“The highlight of my Browns lifetime has been 1964,” Sutton said. “Baltimore Colts and the Cleveland Browns in the championship game. I’ll never forget it. Great game. I enjoyed it so much.”
Sutton has a game program from the 1965 season, complete with a roster, the team’s schedule and the story of the 27-0 title victory the year before. During January 1966, the Browns lost the championship to the Green Bay Packers. They haven’t been back since.
Though the peak of the Browns’ success came in 1964, Sutton and other fans have the 1980s to be proud of. The Browns went to the AFC title game in 1987, 1988 and 1990.
“It was a lot of fun. It was our team,” Sutton said of the 1980s teams. “We pulled for them. We rooted for them. Went to a lot of games and sit in the cold and rooting for the Browns. That was our team. Just wishing for another 1964.”
Sutton hasn’t been the only one rooting for the Browns in his family, as he’s shared his fandom with his two remaining sons. Sutton’s middle son passed away from pancreatic cancer at 44.
“The youngest one always says every year, ‘I’m going to get me a new team to root for.’ No, you’re not. You’re a Browns fan forever,” Sutton said with a chuckle.
As the Browns transition into another season with a new regime, Sutton is optimistic. He hopes the Browns keep running back Kareem Hunt, and he likes the moves they’ve made in free agency.
Through all the franchise’s rough patches, Browns fans like Sutton have stayed optimistic and hopeful.
“I guess they’re dumb like me,” Sutton joked. “They’re just dyed in the wool Browns fans, and they just refuse to budge. They refuse to stop supporting their team. They’re really diehard fans. Browns fans are good fans. They’re really loyal.”