COMMENTARY | You don't have to be a big stats guy to know that life has not been kind to fans of the Cleveland Browns since the franchise returned to the NFL in 1999. The Browns have seen more U.S. presidents get elected than playoff appearances in the past decade and a half. Cleveland is currently averaging a change at the head coach position per year.
Things are bad.
What's most frustrating for the battered Cleveland fanbase is that it's not all that difficult for a bad NFL team to turn things around and compete for a playoff spot. Don't take my word for it. Just ask the Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers.
Why the Browns can't figure it out remains a mystery.
Cleveland Browns by the numbers: Ineptitude
The so-called "New Browns" resemble what was once a proud franchise in name and uniforms only. Cleveland has enjoyed a single trip to the playoffs since 1999, and that was a heartbreaking gag-job against the hated rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland's best regular season as it pertains to winning percentage was 2007 when the team went 10-6.
They didn't make the postseason that year.
The Browns haven't won more than five games in a regular season in six years. Cleveland has had four different head coaches since the 2008 holiday season, and the team is about to get a fifth. There is a very real culture of losing that has infected the franchise, one the team seemingly cannot eliminate.
Cleveland Browns by the numbers: Blue Christmas
Santa Claus rarely makes visits to Cleveland football fans. Below are the team's December records since 1999:
'01: 1-5 (January game included)
'02: 3-3, playoff loss included
Cleveland Browns by the numbers: Others have fun
While Cleveland fans have spent the past 15 years dreaming of the team maybe one day doing something of merit, plenty of other clubs have enjoyed success. Ten different franchises have won a Super Bowl since 1999. The New England Patriots have earned three titles since the Browns returned to the league. The Baltimore Ravens, the Browns of old before Art Modell moved the team, have twice won it all, as have the New York Giants during that stretch.
Each of the other three AFC North teams have won multiple division titles since 1999. The Steelers, like the Ravens, have twice hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the 21st century. The Cincinnati Bengals could be a great quarterback away from winning it all next season.
Cleveland Browns by the numbers: Missed
Tom Brady. Drew Brees. Ben Roethlisberger. Aaron Rodgers. Those are just four quarterbacks the Browns passed on in NFL drafts, four players who have won Super Bowl rings.
That's not even counting the guys Cleveland did not take fliers on during offseasons. The Browns showed little interest in attempting to woo Peyton Manning to town two years ago. Neither Andy Reid nor Alex Smith drew much interest from the team last winter.
How'd that go for you and for the Chiefs, Cleveland?
Cleveland Browns by the numbers: Zero
That is the amount of confidence I and many who follow the team have in the current regime making the Browns a winner anytime soon.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010
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