An offseason of hype and good feelings has culminated in this for the Cleveland Browns: They’re on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview issue.
Through history, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The infamous SI cover jinx has been a fun narrative for decades. It’s fun unless it’s your favorite team on the cover, anyway. For the uninitiated, there is a long history of teams and players suddenly going into a slump or suffering an injury or any other malady once they make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Cleveland fans know this well, considering SI picked the Indians to win it all in 1987 and 2015 (spoiler alert: they did not win it all).
Now it’s the Browns’ turn. Hey, at least they’re relevant again.
‘The Browns are Back’
The Browns got the SI cover treatment, with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry pictured with the headline “The Browns are Back.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 20, 2019
That goes with a feature on the Browns by Ben Baskin titled, “Welcome to Cleveland, Where the Browns Are True Contenders.”
Browns have hope coming into 2019
The funny part about the cover headline claiming “the Browns are back” is it implies they ever made it in the first place.
The old incarnation of the Browns, before they moved to Baltimore, had their moments of glory, though never a Super Bowl appearance. The current Browns franchise, started in 1999, has had practically nothing. They have no division titles and no playoff wins. They’ve only had one playoff appearance. Before last season, the Browns were on a stretch of 13 last-place finishes in 15 years.
But there is a reason they’re on the SI cover. There’s hope. Baker Mayfield looks like a true franchise quarterback. There are talented players on both sides of the ball, the result of stockpiling cap space and top-10 draft picks. The hype machine went into overdrive when they traded for Beckham this offseason. When someone picks the Browns to win a division title or be a Super Bowl contender, it’s not that crazy.
The Browns might be the most interesting team in the NFL heading into the season. With that comes attention like the SI cover, for better or worse.
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