Ada's Richard Klinger, 75, has read every book about the Browns in the Ada Library, twice - Ada Herald
Ada's Richard Klinger, 75, has read every book about the Browns in the Ada Library, twice. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

They went 7-8-1.

They were mathematically eliminated from even a Wildcard spot in the playoffs with two, maybe three, weeks to go in the season.

Their final game was away at Baltimore last week, with the chance, tangentially, to effect, with a win, whether the Pittsburgh Steelers got into the playoffs.

And you’d think it was the Super Bowl!

Welcome to being a Cleveland Browns fan.

Incidentally, the Bowns lost in the last minute in Baltimore, sealing Pittsburgh’s fate and, with the loss, also clinching yet another losing season.

Yet virtually every Browns fan, nonetheless, was wildly celebrating the season. No kidding!

For the last several weeks, I’ve gone to the streets of Ada to find some of these fans, which wasn’t hard since EVERY ONE OF THEM was proudly wearing “the colors.”

Brock Hays was wearing a bright orange Browns cap.

“I have to tell you, each game this year, win or lose, has been quite exciting,” he smiled. (Hays, who grew up in Ashland, Ohio, is an education major at ONU and avid Browns fan.)

Hays said he is particularly jazzed by the play of the younger players on the Browns squad, Baker Mayfield, of course, and Myles Garrit, Denzel Ward…

“I definitely see the playoffs for them next year,” he added. And, again, this has been so exciting.”

So exciting, in fact, one woman wearing a Browns sweatshirt (and requesting anonymity, because, apparently, her husband is a Steelers fan) smiled and said: “You can’t even take a nap during the Browns games anymore.”

Ada’s Richard Klinger, 75, has taken his share of ‘Browns naps’ over the years.

Playoffs next year?

“That’s iffy,” said a realistic Klinger.

Could you, personally, see a Super Bowl for them in your lifetime?

“Like I said,” Klinger laughed. “I’m 75.”

There is a Browns t-shirt now, AND I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, that reads: “Just Once Before I Die!” As I’ve been saying…

Klinger’s most memorable “Browns’ moments” over the years have been, curiously enough (unless, of course, you’re Browns fans who have inevitably grown accustomed to a tremendous amount of game day angst), has been the ‘almosts.’

Like when the Broncos were down by five to the Browns in the ‘87 AFL Championship Game, with two minutes to go, and Denver was starting out on their own five yard line.

Denver QB John Elway knelt in the huddle and cockily said: “Okay boys,

we’ve got ‘em just where we want ‘em.” He then drove the Broncos the length of the field and won the game.

The next year against Denver, in the AFC Championship Game again, it was the just as last minute, and just as angst-filled (for the Browns): “The Fumble.” [It’s too painful for me even – Have I mentioned I, too, am a Browns fan? – to go into all the particulars all these years later.]

Klinger said his family has been in the Ada area for generations and they lived just outside of Ada proper in the country. What’s more, they were one of the first families in the area to have a television.

“People would regularly come out on Sundays to watch the Browns games (on an old black & white set),” he smiled.

Some of Klinger’s favorite Browns players from those early days was QB Frank Ryan (who was actually a dentist in the off season), Lou “The Toe” Groza (who played on the line and was a field goal kicker to boot (pun), pre-position specialization), legendary running back Jim Brown, All-Pro lineman Bill Glass…

In fact, Ada’s Ron Weihrauch (a life-long Browns fan as well) works with Mr. Glass’s Christian Prison Ministry. (Glass formed this after his playing days, and has reached thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, over the years.)

Speakers, often high-profile Christian athletes, are brought in to talk to the prisoners. Then ministry teams (one of which Mr. Weihrauch is a part of) split up to minister to the prisoners individually.

“It offers them hope,” Mr. Weihrach said.

And is there ‘hope’ for the Browns any time soon?

“There’s always next season,” Mr. Weihrauch smiled.

A mantra Browns have been repeating, well, since just after Browns QB Otto Graham (Remember him”?) retired.