Cleveland Browns' Brutal Season Will Be Capped With A Parade
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
This weekend, Cleveland throws a perfect season parade. But in this case, perfect means perfectly awful. The Browns lost all 16 games this season, just the second team ever to do that. The parade is a joke but also meant to send a message. Here's Matt Richmond of WCPN ideastream.
MATT RICHMOND, BYLINE: The Browns joined the NFL 68 years ago, and for decades, were one of the most-successful teams. But in 1996, owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore. It became the Ravens. Cleveland waited three years to get the franchise they have today. And since then, the team hasn't had much success - 10 years without a winning season. The owner promises to bring back embattled head coach Hue Jackson next year even though he's now posted a 1-31 record over the past two seasons. And that brings us to tomorrow's parade. Jay Demagall's at a parade float steering committee meeting at a local bar. He and a few friends are putting together a float.
JAY DEMAGALL: So that's a plan. Milton's got candles made. Now, I was going to dress up a Santa Claus and drive. Ron, as part of your hazing, you're going to be the brownie elf.
RICHMOND: The idea for the parade got started on Twitter a year ago, when the Browns looked to be on the way to an 0-16 season. It was shelved when the team won a game. But then, the unimaginable happened. It got worse. Jay Demagall sees the parade as a warning shot across the bow of ownership for fielding a lousy team year after year.
DEMAGALL: Somebody's still making money off of it, and they're making money off of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A lot of money.
DEMAGALL: A lot of money. And the players, I know they're doing their best with whatever they can do, but it's just not fair to the city.
RICHMOND: I'm standing outside FirstEnergy Stadium. A few years ago, a local comedian dubbed it The Factory of Sadness. Temperatures are expected to hover around 4 degrees tomorrow. The route is a counterclockwise circle around the stadium representing a zero. Not everyone is on board with this parade.
LIONEL SMITH: I will not be attending a perfect season parade.
RICHMOND: Clevelander Lionel Smith isn't buying the parade organizers' arguments that it will affect billionaire owner Jimmy Haslam.
SMITH: He's already embarrassed. There's not too many 0-for teams ever in the league. He's the laughingstock of the league. We don't need to parade this.
RICHMOND: But Chris McNeil, who hatched this idea last year, disagrees. He says, since then, feelings on both sides have hardened.
CHRIS MCNEIL: Around Thanksgiving, I was saying there's three things that you don't want to bring up at Thanksgiving dinner - politics, religion and the Browns Perfect Season Parade.
RICHMOND: It's expected that thousands will attend. Only two years ago, about a million Cleveland Cavaliers fans flooded downtown streets for the city's first championship parade in more than a half-century. Tomorrow will mark something very different. For NPR News, I'm Matt Richmond in Cleveland.
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