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Stay Classy Cleveland (Browns Fans)

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I went to the Browns-Patriots game 10 days ago with a Patriots fan. We are both approaching 40, and other than a Patriots jacket she was wearing, were not overly clad in Patriots attire. She was born in Massachusetts and is a life-long fan of Boston teams. She is what I hear most Cleveland fans wanting from a fan - she's a homer. That fact that she lives in Cleveland now should not change that.

Fast forward to the game. Obviously the Browns crushed the Patriots that day. She took her share of ribbing, no biggie, she's a sports fan and knows the drill. It was what happened after we left that had me shaking my head. Twice, out on the street, she was approached by drunken Browns fans, clad in Browns attire, and given profanity-laced verbal lashings about the game. Again, a bit of trash talk is all good, she knows she was wearing Patriots gear at a Browns game, but this had gone over the line, especially since she is a woman. It was, dare I say, classless.

What pushed me over the ledge with this was a story I read today about a Browns fan tackling an 8-year old boy wearing a Jets jersey. Like my example above, the boy's father was born in New York has raised his son to root for the Jets. Frankly, this made me sick. Win or lose, kids should be off-limits in this type of fandom, and the fact that this boy was not only harassed, but physically assaulted makes it all the more sickening.

"As [my husband] was walking, holding my son's hand, a guy from behind tackled him. A drunken Browns fan tackled him and pulled him out of his dad's hand. He was on the ground crying," Danielle said, according to the station.

Acting like this does not make you a fan. It makes you a jackass.

Fans who wear the opposing colors to a game know they are taking a chance. They know they are likely going to get called names, or have obscenities shouted at them. AS offensive as that it, when a woman, or an 8-year old boy, feel intimidated, or worse yet, afraid for their welfare, at a football game, that is going over the line.

Where is the respect? We are all fans. We all enjoy the game. When did all that change? When did it become a threat to your manhood that a woman wear a red, white and blue jacket instead of brown and orange.

I understand that this is the exception to the rule. Of the 77,000 fans at any given Browns game, a few hundred idiots shouldn't ruin it for everyone else. They do, unfortunately, and it is these small, but vocal minorities that continue to give the City of Cleveland a bad name.

Stay Classy Cleveland. The city is better than that. YOU are better than that.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.