I’m not going to even lie. I’m panicking right now. The lock-out has gone on long enough. Let’s finish the talks up and get back on the field.
Yes, I’m talking about the Browns and the NFL. The lock-out has been going on for months and I thought FOR SURE that by July this would be over and I’d be preparing for Training Camp and the Preseason. Because every true Browns fan knows that the season really begins for us in July when the Browns return to Berea. It’s the time of year when I know I’ll run into at least a handful of players, spend an afternoon in the sun watching my boys on the field and attempt to
stalk find Peyton Hillis on the sidelines.
But no. Instead, I sit and wait. And panic. Because without Browns season, my social calendar this fall is going to be bleak.
For those of you that don’t know, I’m one of those girls. The one who is with her guys every single week. That knows the players by name (and their marital status if they are cute). Every single Sunday home game is spent at the Muni Lot and the Stadium.
A typical weekend looks something like this during football season:
Friday night: go out, spend time with non-football friends.
Saturday: college football during the day (because one day those boys may have a Browns jersey on), grocery shop for Sunday and begin packing. And by packing I mean: laying out the outfit of choice for gameday (once the season hits, I’ll break down some of the best outfits for the football ladies out there), pack additional layers depending on season (or if it’s preseason, an option to change into), pack blankets and pillows and accessories – such as hair ties, headbands, sunglasses, sunscreen, body spray, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, utensils and garbage bags. Items not needed for Sunday morning are packed in Delonte (my Scion tc) before bed.
Bedtime: somewhere between 8:30-9:30pm. This is extremely important and typically the earlier, the better.
Sunday: Alarm goes off at 3:45am. Arrival to the RV – no later than 4:45am. It’s gameday. And that means I have exactly 45 mins. to shower, get dressed and out the door. Since I always know what I’m wearing ahead of time, this is usually pretty easy. Last minute food items in the car and I’m on my way to TD’s (friend who “owns” the RV). Upon arrival, join with the boys in loading up the RV. People in first then coolers. Important note: if you sit in the front seat of the RV, be prepared to smell the exhaust fumes (hence the reason for body spray). The drive to Muni is approximately 20 minutes – perfect napping opportunity since I’m never the driver.
Arrival to Muni: typically we wait in line for about 10-15 minutes. This is the perfect time to open up drink #1 of the day. By this point I’ve already had one bottle of water so I can now move into beer. Yes, beer at 5:15am. Once we are into Muni and have found our perfect spot (usually by a fence), set up begins. Since I’m typically the only girl in the early crew, the boys tend to handle this. Set up includes: tents, grills, food – we start with breakfast obviously, coolers, chairs, cornhole and the food table. While this occurs: I check the bathroom to ensure that toilet paper and hand sanitizer has been added. Depending on weather, this is also the time when I curl up in a chair while set up continues, beer in hand and blanket wrapped around me. Perfect people-watching opportunity.
As the morning progresses, beer is consumed, new friends are made, cornhole is played, the Browns are discussed, more friends arrive that refuse to leave before the sun rises, food is cooked and we mentally prepare for the game. At the home opener, this is our time to catch up. Because to be honest, I sometimes don’t see some of my “football friends” all year round. We catch up on work, family, friends, relationships and Cleveland.
Around 10:45am, lunch begins to be prepared and beer is refilled in the coolers (this year, I plan on counting how much we go through…and TD is always so generous to make sure that there is Coors Light in the coolers for me). By noon, clean up begins (which seems like much more work every game) and tickets are being checked. You’d be surprised how many times we’ve had to make a trip home to exchanged tickets because we’ve had the wrong ones.
12:15 pm the walk from Muni to the Stadium begins along with thousands of Browns fans. “Here we go Brownies, Here we go” can be heard down 90E, as we trail past the highway and next to the parking garage. “Woof Woof” is the combat cry as we walk over the East 9th street bridge and our destination is in sight. Depending on the game, we may stop and buy Dog Bone necklaces from street vendors. We stand in line, have our bags checked and haul it to our seats in time for kickoff.
The minute we sit down, we greet our friends that we haven’t seen in months. The couple behind us always gives me a hug as we sit down. We discuss how the offense looked in training camp and how our “off-season” was. We buy each other a beer, especially at the first home game of the year, as our way to kick off the new season. The group down the row pass out homemade cookies and browns, each little baggie tied with an orange and brown ribbon (she never fails us). And the men in front of us ask me which jersey I’m going with this year – Quinn, 3 years ago and Thomas, the last 2 years. (Note: this year I’m rotating Hillis and Thomas, but am also in hot pursuit for a McCoy jersey.)
It’s like being with family again. We cheer for each player. Remark on the new coach. High Five and hug with each touchdown. Put our heads down with each bad play. And our love never fails for our team.
At the end of the game, no matter win or lose, we say our goodbyes and begin the trek back to Muni. It’s usually at this time that I’m begging and pleading with someone for a piggy back ride home (why I still insist on wearing flip flips to games is beyond me). We arrive back at the trusty RV, pull out either a victory or loss beer, have a few drinks and play a round of cornhole while we wait for everyone to leave.
By 630-7pm we are back in Lakewood, unloading and separating our bags. Always home before 7:30pm, I’m in bed by 7:45pm and sleep through the night (fully preparing for Monday and Tuesday’s hangover – Tuesday’s is always worse than Monday’s…you’d be surprised).
And just like that my weekend is over. All that prep work for the perfect day with fantastic friends. And it doesn’t matter the weather…sun, rain or snowstorm (okay, I’ll be honest: last year was my first cold weather game…it was awful….the wind blowing off the lake, the inability to ever get warm and my beer being frozen…but I’ll do it again this year, if I’m given the chance).
But that’s my life. Each and every week from August until January. And if it’s an away game, you best believe that I’m in front of a TV with my friends, cheering our team on while we watch in HD. Wearing my Browns outfit. And praying that this year will be different.
That is, if we are given a “this year”.
Please lock-out, end quickly.