Super Bowl 51: Is There A Clear Choice To Root For As Cleveland Browns Fans?

Feb 1, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A general view of the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots next to the Vince Lombardi Trophy prior to a press conference in preparation for Super Bowl LI at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; A general view of the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots next to the Vince Lombardi Trophy prior to a press conference in preparation for Super Bowl LI at George R. Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots is just two days away. NFL fans all over the world has their reason as to who they will root for, but is that completely the case for Cleveland Browns fans?

The Cleveland Browns had the complete opposite of a season compared to the matchup we will see in Super Bowl 51. Cleveland does own eight championships but have yet to win a Super Bowl. Yet, one day they will get to one and win it.

In the meantime, looking ahead to this year’s biggest game, how can one choose who to root for?  Regardless of who you hope wins, does any influence over your decision involve the players and/or coaches involved? More than likely yes, but the more interesting question is whether you would like to see such people with Browns ties/connections or not win?

On the Atlanta side, head coach Dan Quinn (then Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator) was interested in the Browns coaching job when it was available a few seasons ago. The job ultimately went to Mike Pettine.

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Quinn could have worked for Cleveland. Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan did and he could have worked for Quinn had he been offered the job. After having success in Atlanta, Shanahan is likely to leave following Super Bowl 51 for his first head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers.

In terms of players, center Alex Mack bolted NE Ohio as quickly as he could unfortunately. He left a team struggling to win and ended up solidifying the Falcons’ offensive line.

Fellow former Brown Taylor Gabriel also made his way down south a few months ago. He was claimed off of waivers and has been an important part of Atlanta’s offense. Did Cleveland make the wrong decision with Gabriel? I’d say so.

Mack leaving was tough, but what is even more disappointing is how their star wide receiver Julio Jones ended up in the ATL. The Browns traded their sixth overall pick to the Falcons during the 2011 NFL Draft. In return, Cleveland received first, second, and fourth round picks in 2011 and first and fourth rounders in 2012.

That’s a great haul right? Well yeah, but as long as those selections met expectations. The best player Cleveland got in that deal was quarterback Brandon Weeden, so it was a no-brainer the Browns got the short end of the stick there.

If considering New England, quarterback Tom Brady would end up with the most Super Bowl wins in NFL history for a quarterback. However, Brady did go to Michigan and for obvious reasons that university is not well liked in Ohio.

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New England for years has been one of the last remaining teams in the NFL, and as a result has earned the right to play in the last Sunday to determine who is the best in that given year. It is time for a change for many. There is no doubt about that, but the Pats did knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers from making it to the Super Bowl, something Cleveland fans can be happy about.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has improved as a coach to the point that he is in the running of being the best NFL head coach of all time. With a win Sunday, his place as the greatest could be cemented.

Prior to succeeding in the AFC East, one of Belichick’s coaching stops was with the Browns from 1991-1995. Another coach with Cleveland ties is assistant special teams coach Ray Ventrone. Ventrone spent four seasons as a defensive back in Cleveland from 2009-2012.

At one time, Cleveland envisioned building with a number of players who for one reason or another are no longer with the team. Some could have been seen as building blocks or at least solid contributors.

Current Patriots and former Browns running back Dion Lewis, linebacker Jaabal Sheard and linebacker Barkevious Mingo fit the latter and now they are just one game away from accomplishing the ultimate goal in the NFL.

If the intrigue of former Browns players and/or coaches winning the Super Bowl is not, maybe the perception of the NFL and all the storylines they deal with is. I very much doubt anything interesting will happen with Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in terms of their interaction if New England wins. Still, the thought of an awkward situation between the two cannot be ignored after Deflategate.

So, there is nothing that dramatically stands out that should help Cleveland fans decide to root for in Super Bowl 51. Still, if anything did, the fact that the Browns once had arguably the best coach of all time leading their team is hard to ignore and hoping for the best for him would be understood.

Whether it is the players, coaches, teams, the team’s success over the years or some other reason, football fans will have their preference come Sunday. There are cases to be made on both sides of the coin as to who Browns fans should cheer on. That said, there is one thing we should all agree on: If Super Bowl 51 is a blowout, then it will be a frustrating end to another entertaining NFL season.

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For me personally, there is not one specific reason that will influence who I root for on Sunday. For the record though, I believe it will be a close scoring game with New England winning (again) 28-23.