As the long-suffering Cleveland Browns NFL team rises on the cusp of more promising seasons and more positive playoff positions, local fans of the team are invited to root for quarterback Baker Mayfield and his squad regularly and robustly here in the Kanawha Valley.
“The Charleston WV Browns Backers is a local chapter of the Browns Backers Worldwide, officially recognized by the Cleveland Browns,” group founder Jim Workman of St. Albans explained. “The Browns Backers Worldwide is a collection of fans and clubs to promote fun, fellowship and support of the Browns.
“Our chapter will host family-friendly events and activities promoting positive player and fan relationships. We will attend viewings of preseason, regular season and, hopefully, postseason games at our headquarters: Buffalo Wild Wings of Cross Lanes, at 70 Market Place in Nitro,” Workman said.
A longtime, diehard Browns fan, Workman formed the “Charleston South” Browns Backers chapter last month.
“I was surprised that there was not a local chapter already established,” he said, “and I reached out to the Browns through their website. I’ve been a Browns fan since about 1979. I really liked Greg Pruitt, Brian Sipe and Clay Matthews and their ‘Kardiac Kids’ style of play at the time. Every game was exciting and the support of their fans was infectious.
“That was the beginning of an era of some great football – and great players – for the Browns. They just missed going to the Super Bowl several times in the 1980s.
“I’ve been to many Browns games over the years. I was even a season ticket holder in the 1986 season, when the Browns lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship for the first time.”
Workman was also in the stands for the Browns’ final game played at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1995.
“That was a heartbreaking year,” he said. “Cleveland didn’t have a team for three years after that when the owner moved the franchise to Baltimore. But the Browns returned as an expansion team for the 1999 season.”
He is also sharing the optimism of Browns supporters with the arrival of Heisman Trophy winner Mayfield through the NFL draft last year and the recent acquisitions of marquee league players such as Odell Beckham Jr.
“It’s been a tough 20 years,” Workman conceded. “But Browns fans finally have some real hope this season. I believe the front office has finally assembled a team that can be contenders. The Browns have several young players that are superstar quality, like Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward and Jarvis Landry. It should be a great year to gather with fellow Browns fans and enjoy some success.”
Whether the Browns win or lose, he noted, their area fans will score points for area causes nonetheless.
“There is a charitable element to the Browns Backers Worldwide that we will explore locally,” he said. “I’m an outreach director with Kingdom Life Fellowship Church in Nitro, so I’ve been involved in several worthy community causes.
“We will have some fun, for sure. There is an initial gathering of the Charleston WV Browns Backers on Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings in Cross Lanes. We would love to have new members come and help plan our activities for the season.”
The July 18 gathering will include giveaways and food for attending fans.
For future area Browns fan-related endeavors, “We will also keep people informed online and on Twitter, with the @BrownsBackersWV account,” Workman said.
Local fans can register as a Browns Backer for the Charleston chapter online at fans.clevelandbrowns.com.