Harrod's Tony and Eva Holbrook are Cleveland Browns fans #1, or #2, or, well, you know what I mean. Almost all of Tony's wardrobe, for instance, is "Browns stuff" - Ada Herald
Harrod's Tony and Eva Holbrook are Cleveland Browns fans #1, or #2, or, well, you know what I mean. Almost all of Tony's wardrobe, for instance, is "Browns stuff". (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

HARROD — Last year toward the end of the regular NFL season, the Browns were actually doing quite good (an anomaly of late), and I went out into Hardin County to look for Browns fans to interview.

I ended up finding two guys from Ada that, I was pretty sure, were, by FAR, the biggest Browns fans in the county, maybe the country.

I was wrong.

The two biggest Browns fans in the county, actually probably in the WHOLE world, live in Harrod, Ohio. Seriously!

Eva and Tony Holbrook, both 55, absolutely “bleed” orange and brown. When you call their house, the answering machine says:

“Browns Rule! Leave a message…”

Their fence out front is orange and brown. Instead of St. Francis statues among their flower beds, yep, Browns player statues.

And in honor of the Browns “Dawg Pound,” the Holbrook dogs have big orange and brown “Dawg Houses,” shaped like football helmets no less.

And the sign in the driveway?

“Parking for Browns Fans Only!” Of course.

And we haven’t even gone inside yet.

Inside, the finished basement is a veritable Browns Museum.

There are posters of such famous Browns players as Bob Gollick, Jim Brown, Bernie Kosar…

“Bernie was my man,” said Tony.

Behind Kosar’s leadership, the Browns made it into the playoffs several times, often to be stopped only by the four-letter word: Denver.

Okay, my wife’s saying that’s five letters. But she’s not a Browns fan.

Tony’s wife Eva is.

They go to games together, paint stuff orange and brown together, commiserate together after a game… It’s a match made in, well, Cleveland.

Although actually they met in Hardin County.

Tony’s love for the Browns started when he was at Allen East High School. All his buddies were Bengals fans. Tony was always a bit counter-cultural.

Enter the Browns.

While other teams were going with extremely tough sounding mascots (Steelers, Lions, Bears…), Cleveland, bucking the macho “mano e mano” trend, decided on, well, an elf.

What the front office was thinking on THAT…

Tony graduated from Allen East in 1982, just in time for the debut of QB Brian Sipe (drafted in the 17th round) and the “Kardiac Kids.”

The team would win seven of their games one year – IN THE LAST MINUTE!

Those were fun times for Browns fans, followed by, frankly, “The Dark Years.”

Cleveland started losing, then losing some more, then the city actually lost the team for three years (the Browns moved to Baltimore and “the elf” morphed into “the ravine.”)

But in 1999, as Tony recalls vividly, the Browns came back as an expansion team. For the next 18 years, it wasn’t pretty. Losing season, after losing season, after…

However, now enter last year: Baker Mayfield, quarterback extraordinaire. Oh, and now enter O’dell Beckham Jr. this year, receiver extraordinaire. Browns fans are now talking Super Bowl, which Tony thinks might be, oh, a little premature.

However, if you’re a Browns fan, Tony added, hope always “springs eternal’ – or at least until, like, the second pre-season game.

Browns Rule!