On the Beat: 5/10/16

Local Browns backers brainstorm a motivational movement

By Jim Bucher

Cleveland Browns fans are a hearty bunch. No matter what happens on the field, which hasn’t been too positive for a long while, they support their team. Fair weather fans are few and far between.

Laney Baldwin is case in point. The Dayton area resident is a tried and true, through thick or thin, good and bad, ravenous Browns fan.

“You are right,” Baldwin says. “The words ‘fair weather fans’ doesn’t apply to Cleveland football. We have a passion and love for the team that runs deeper than our record. It’s been over 50 years since we won a championship, and 14 years since we were in the playoffs. Yet, the stadium still sells out. Our Browns Backers are still the largest group of fans in the world. All I can say is, it’s in our blood.”

For Baldwin it’s been this way since she learned how to speak.

“My family have always been Browns fans, so when I was a little girl we would watch the games together,” she says. “In fact, one of the first things I was taught to say was, ‘Go Browns!’ So honestly, being a fan was never a choice. It’s who we are.”

But come on already, enough is enough. How can fans be that fanatical about a football team that consistently continues to lose?

“I get asked this question all the time,” Baldwin says. “Ironically, I don’t look at all the disappointments. The past is the past. I’m 44 years old and have never experienced a championship team. I don’t dwell on ‘the fumble’ or ‘the drive.’ They were two plays and yes, they were heartbreaking plays, and that pit returns to my stomach when I hear the words. For me it’s about mindset, taking each game at a time and celebrating the small victories. Ironically, I feel pride.”

It’s that fervent fever which prompted Baldwin to act.

“My friend and business partner, Maria DiLoreto, came up with the idea for our t-shirt movement during our daughter’s band concert,” she says. “They were playing ‘Who Let the Dogs Out,’ and we started talking about the team and head coach Hue Jackson. The phrase ‘Hue Let the Dawgs Out’ came from that conversation and knew we had something special. We applied for the trademark, and everyone we shared with wanted us to make t-shirts. The saying has multiple meanings. It’s about the rebirth of a new era—new players, new management, new coaches and new vision. It’s a way to give the fans a voice. This shirt lets the team know that we are 100 percent behind what they are doing. Our hope is that when the players see people wearing this shirt, it will give them the extra motivation to succeed.”

So far, Hue and his Dawgs are a hit!

“Our shirts have only been available for a couple weeks and sold more than our initial inventory,” Baldwin explains. “We are partnering with Browns Backers clubs all over the country to make the shirts available to their members. We have received attention from the Cleveland media, and are being interviewed outside Browns headquarters on draft day. We have a website (ohiosportsjunkie.com) where fans can purchase their shirts, and we priced them lower than the average t-shirt without cost being an issue.”

Baldwin is thinking big on her Browns brainstorm.

“I have huge vision. I see 75,000 people filling the stadium in our shirt for the home opener on Sept. 18,” she says. “I see Browns Backers clubs gathering for the game in their hometowns wearing their shirts. Everyone who orders one receives an instruction card that tells them about ‘the movement.’ On Sept. 18 every person will take a photo of themselves in the shirt and use the hashtag #hueletthedawgsout and post on social media. We are going to flood the Internet with pictures of Browns fans.”

The married mom with a 14-year-old daughter is on a mission.

“Ever since I was a little, I told people I’m going to do something big for the Browns,” Baldwin says. “Something that will make a difference. Something that will help energize the masses and give the players a reason to fight for the city and the fans every week. Our movement shows them the magnitude of what they represent, and it will allow them to play with pride while having fun playing the sport they love.”

Sounds like a winning proposition. Now, if it can transfer to the field all will be well in the ‘Dawg Pound.’

Cheers!

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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