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Make no mistake: This is a football town.

September 9th, 2010

Three days from now, nearly everyone in Cleveland will gather around their television sets to watch the Browns battle the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – a battle of two teams that combined to win eight games last year.

On paper the Browns should win. That’s on paper though, and as I know quite well as a Cleveland fan, things don’t always go as planned.

We could lose to the lowly Bucs, and even if we do, 72,000-plus people will file into the orange seats at Cleveland Browns Stadium the following week to watch the Browns battle the Kansas City Chiefs.

That’s because this is a football town. It’s like Buffalo and it’s like Pittsburgh in that no matter what, on Sunday afternoons everything stops to watch the gridiron gangs for a few hours.

In case you lived under a rock for the summer: LeBron James left Cleveland.

Gone. Forever. And he’s not welcome back.

He took his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat and left the city in his dust.

But the minute he did that – 9:28 p.m. on July 8, 2010 – people in Cleveland started counting down until the start of Browns training camp.

LeBron James broke the heart of nearly everyone in northeast Ohio – and yet we feel better because our football team that has won 59 games in the last 11 seasons is starting their season shortly.

We already forgot that the Browns went 5-11 a season ago. We do remember, however, that they are riding the wave of a four-game winning streak, the longest in the league.

It’s sad, but it’s true.

I’m sure people from Buffalo and Pittsburgh started counting down to Latrobe and Rochester, respectively, right after the Sabres and Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs.

I love baseball. But let’s face it, it’s no longer the American pastime. Football is what we all look forward too, and thank God it’s finally here.

In the National Football League, optimism is always at an extreme high. There’s so much parody in professional football that every offseason we, as fans, trick ourselves into thinking that this could potentially be ‘‘the” year.

Football has a healing effect that helps you when your megastar, and cash cow for the city’s economy, bolts. It helps you when your pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup abruptly comes to an end. It helps you in the dog days of summer when your baseball team is 25 games below the .500 mark.

And it’s finally here. Enjoy.