Kafka, expectations and the Cleveland Browns February 5, 2015

There was once a young football fan from Cleveland. Year after year, this fan purchased gear and attended games. Despite seeing all other teams in the division achieve greatness (or in Cincinnati’s case, above-average-ness), she still rooted on her beloved Browns.

Time passed. The girl with a hopeful heart and a closet of orange and brown grew into a jaded woman of a certain age. Bitterness and cynicism pervaded her life, even in the off-seasons. Her friends had drifted out of her life. Her family implored her to give up her season tickets. She would not. Both her cardiologist and psychiatrist advised her to give up her team. But she refused.

The woman went into her neighborhood bar. “This team is impossible!” she muttered as the bartender served her up her usual. “Why can’t they just win?”

“Let me tell you a story,” the sympathetic bartender offered.

A man from the countryside comes up to the door of the Law, guarded by a doorkeeper, and asks for entry. The doorkeeper says he can’t let him in to the law right now. The man thinks about this, and then he asks if he’ll be able to go in later on.

‘That’s possible,’ says the doorkeeper, ‘but not now’.

The man waits and grows older. Any time he asks, the doorkeeper rebukes him. The man offers bribes to this doorkeeper, and the guard accepts each offer saying as he pockets the money ‘I’ll only accept this so that you don’t think there’s anything you’ve failed to do’. Still, the man is not allowed entry.

Over many years, the man tries time and again to get inside. In the first few years he curses his unhappy condition out loud, but later, as he becomes old, he just grumbles to himself. He becomes senile…

Finally his eyes grow dim, and he knows doesn’t have much longer to live. In the moment before he dies, he brings together all his experience from all this time into one question which he has still never put to the doorkeeper…

‘Everyone wants access to the law,’ says the man, ‘how come, over all these years, no-one but me has asked to be let in?’

The doorkeeper can see the man is near death. ‘Nobody else could have got in this way, as this entrance was meant only for you. Now I’ll close it forever’. As the door is slammed shut, the man expires.

After this story, a thoughtful expression passed over the woman’s aged face.  “I wish Roethlisberger would die.”

The bartender frowned. “You don’t get it…”

“Harbaugh, too. And that fuck-face, Flacco.”

“I give up.” The bartender retreated to rinse the glassware.



The Browns are a zen koan.

There will be no peace for Browns fans until we release any hope for entering through that door; and even then, no guarantees.

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