Browns fans bask amid sunny outlook

Team in contention `fun to watch' now

The Scene

Ravens Gameday

November 19, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

M&T Bank Stadium was safe.

Unlike Pittsburgh Steelers fans who painted Baltimore in black and gold, Cleveland Browns fans were outnumbered by Ravens fans before yesterday's AFC North matchup.

But Browns supporters had one thing their Ravens counterparts did not: hope.

"It seems like the Ravens fans are pretty down," said Andy Suttell, 37, of Cleveland, who joined about a half-dozen other Browns fans in surprising friend Joe Curry with a 40th birthday celebration that included an RV trip and tickets to the game. "They're all very friendly and nice to us. That's unusual."

Browns fans Todd Pitman and Dave and Chris Cosgrove encountered just one heckler while walking around the stadium.

"So far, it's been pretty good," said Pitman, 39, of Parma, Ohio.

Browns fans have reason for optimism. Even before yesterday's overtime win after a bizarre end of regulation, the team was 5-4, second in the division and in position to secure the franchise's first winning season since 2002.

That's why a sizable contingent of Browns fans flooded Pickles Pub, turning the orange and black of the Orioles haunt to orange and brown.

"I'm ecstatic," said Larry Elavsky, 36, a Reisterstown resident born and raised in Massillon, Ohio. "It's fun to watch the Browns, whereas in past years, it wasn't. So it's very exciting."

It didn't seem to matter to Browns fans that the team is succeeding with former Ravens: quarterback Derek Anderson, running back Jamal Lewis and general manager Phil Savage.

"It will be really, really gratifying if Jamal Lewis would run like he did against us a couple years ago and get 295 [yards] against the Ravens," said Steve Emerick, a 42-year-old Parkville resident who is president of the Baltimore Browns Backers. "Sweeping the Ravens is good. Winning the game and staying in the AFC North race is even better."

But for all their good cheer, Browns fans weren't quite ready to stamp their tickets to Arizona, site of the Super Bowl. Disappointing performances by Ohio State, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians in championship settings this past year seemed to temper expectations.

"When you're an Ohio fan, you think about `The Shot,' `The Fumble,' and `The Drive,' " said Curry, referring to the worst sports moments in Ohio history. "It seems like we can never finish. So we are desperate for a winner. That's why we have to be a little wary."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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