CLEVELAND, Ohio – During the fall of 1989, Mick Niedzwiecki took a trip to Detroit that would change his life.
Niedzwiecki, 50, saw an advertisement about a bus trip that would take Browns fans to Detroit to watch their favorite team play the Lions on Thanksgiving. Niedzwiecki mentioned the advertisement to his uncle, who after nearly backing out, decided to go.
“So we went, we got on the bus, and there were a bunch of Browns fans,” Niedzwiecki said over the phone. “It was a full bus. And it was crazy because people were drinking on the way down, and it was just a good time. So happened that there was a group of girls that happened to be on the same bus trip, and we kind of walked by each other and started talking and one thing led to another.”
As Niedzwiecki got to know one of the women in the group, he learned she had season tickets a section over from him in the Dawg Pound.
The woman’s name was Chris, and she and Niedzwiecki were married in 1992. They will have been together for 28 years this September and have three sons and a daughter – each one a Browns fan.
“She’s been a lifelong Browns fan like myself,” Niedzwiecki said. “In fact, sometimes I always tell her she’s worse than me because when the Browns lose, don’t talk to her for a day or two. That’s still ’til this day.”
A finance manager at BMW of Westlake, Niedzwiecki and his family live in Broadview Heights. He fondly remembers the Detroit trip not only because he met Chris, but because he and his uncle got to see some members of the team up close.
Niedzwiecki and his uncle were staying in the Browns’ team hotel. Niedzwiecki was on the elevator to his room once, and Clay Matthews and Hanford Dixon both got on. He said his uncle got to talk with coach Bud Carson at the hotel bar “for hours.”
“It was just incredible that we were there. Next morning, everybody got up, we went to the game. The Browns lost that game actually, which was kind of a bummer. But again, it turned out OK because I met my wife.”
Niedzwiecki and his family had the opportunity to go see the Browns on the road a few times last season. He and Chris traveled to Denver with their children to see Browns-Broncos. Along with that trip, Niedzwiecki went to Baltimore with two of his sons and two of their friends.
On another trip, Niedzwiecki went with his other son to Arizona. Though two of the three road games ended in losses, Niedzwiecki appreciates the camaraderie and passion Browns fans have across the nation.
“It’s amazing, people come from all over the country to see the Browns play, even if it’s home or away,” Niedzwiecki said. “When we were in Arizona this past December, we went to a Browns backers party before the game, and there must have been 1,500 Browns fans at this party. It was incredible. It was overtaken by Browns fans, and it was great to see.”