Can the NFL get a hoot and holler?

Cleveland Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya (25) leaps into the Dawg Pound after a 1-yard touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Caption
Cleveland Browns running back Chris Ogbonnaya (25) leaps into the Dawg Pound after a 1-yard touchdown catch against the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Credit: Tony Dejak

Credit: Tony Dejak

This commentary by Dayton Daily News Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson appeared on the Ideas and Voices pages Sunday, July 12.

This might just be the year I jump back into the Dawg Pound barking.

I jumped out a decade — wait a minute, nearly 25 years ago — when the Browns left Cleveland.

How am I this old and why do I still have unresolved issues about Art Modell? 

My brother and sister-in-law were there with me for the real Browns’ last game on Dec. 17, 1995, a day that will forever live in infamy in our hearts.

 

We hooted and hollered as the Browns beat the Bengals. We packed it up and left just before the stadium was ripped apart.

Being a true Ohioan, my brother wanted to beat traffic so the only seats we took with us were connected to our bodies.

Each year since then, I’ve committed to getting back into football, a game I loved for the first part of my life and through a list of traumatic events that include, but are not limited to, The Drive and The Fumble.

Yes, I know what “interception” means.

I am from Cleveland.

Football was a way of life and still is for many members of my family up north.

But the connection I had for the game was broken the day the Browns left my hometown.

It was the first time the team represented something other than Cleveland to me.

I saw the team and the league for what they are, businesses that do what businesses do. Like other businesses, it can be supported or not supported.

My right.

I still remember much of what I knew about the NFL, but boy has the league and its place in America changed.

Black football players of times long gone have flexed their political power for social change — famed Browns running back Jim Brown was a civil rights activist — but few could have predicted the NFL would be such a pivotal piece of a national moment.

One man kneeling for Black lives and against police brutality during the national anthem has helped move a mountain and led to a political firestorm that still burns hot even though Colin Kaepernick was effectively driven from the game.

How ironic that it was a white police officer kneeling on a Black man’s neck that made many understand why Kaepernick decided to take a knee in the first place.

NFL football will undoubtedly not be the same when the season starts in September. You can thank the coronavirus for that.

Time will tell if the movement working to awaken the rest of society to the racial disparities Black people face has a real impact on the gridiron as well.

Change is clearly needed beyond a rendition of the “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the so-called Black national anthem) played before each game.

I don’t know if I will be able to get back into the Browns this year. I want to.

We’ll see if I can see it as a business I can hoot and holler about.

Amelia Robinson is Dayton Daily News’ community impact editor. Her column has appeared in the paper since 2005 and she hosts the What Had Happened Was podcast. 

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