CLEVELAND, Ohio – Tom Richardson remembers hearing about Jim Brown from his late father, the man who helped ignite his love for the Browns.
Before Brown began his Hall of Fame career in Cleveland, he was a dominant running back at Syracuse. Richardson’s dad knew then that Brown had immense potential. Brown won a championship with the Browns in 1964, and he’s the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.
“He remembered going and seeing Jim Brown at Syracuse and talk about ‘Wow, that kid’s going to be a ball player,’” Richardson said over the phone.
Richardson, 61, has northeast Ohio roots with his hometown of Akron. He now lives with his wife, Cindy, in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Growing up, Richardson was a fan of Frank Minnifield, Hanford Dixon, Bernie Kosar and Brian Sipe. He and his father always bonded over sports, especially when it came time to talking about the Browns. His dad was born on Dec. 6, the same day as Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham.
Richardson said his father, who passed away at age 99, was a fan of Graham as well as Marion Motley.
When he moved to Kansas City in 1982, Richardson got to experience the one of the Browns’ most successful – and yet, heart wrenching – decades. When the Browns lost to the Denver Broncos in the 1987 and 1988 AFC Championship games, Richardson wasn’t in the company of fellow Browns fans.
“Yeah I remember sitting in Kansas City when they played the Denver Broncos two years in a row,” Richardson said. “And the rest of the room were Broncos fans, so kind of heartbreaking. Oh man, we’ve gone through a lot.”
As Richardson recalled more moments of heartbreak, he remembered how hard it was to watch the Browns during the 3-36-1 Hue Jackson era from 2016-18. According to Pro Football Reference, Jackson has the second-lowest winning percentage (.088) in franchise history.
“I could sit there, I watched them and I kind of like analyzed the game,” Richardson said. “And I’d call every play he was going to call and that kind of thing. I’d sit there for a quarter and just say, ‘He’s going to do this, he’s going to do that.’ Those were probably the most frustrating games to watch.”
With Richardson living about 55 minutes from Kansas City, he’s surrounded by Chiefs fans. They tease him about being a Browns fan, but like most fans of the franchise, Richardson remains steadfast in his support.
He has NFL Sunday Ticket with DirecTV and watches games through the streaming service. He said the last two years, he’s turned off games after the third quarter.
Still, he has hope for what could arise in the future.
“It was predictable, and I wasn’t disappointed,” Richardson said. “It came out just as I expected. So for me, the frustration level is probably at the highest it’s ever been. As much talent as they have on that team. I’m excited about what’s going on, but I was like I gotta keep my excitement to myself because I just take too much grief.”