INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (WJW) — Cleveland’s football team is back in the playoffs.
“It’s Browns time now,” said fan Chris Weber.
Michael Marquardt noting the significance, said, “This is 18 years in the making. So I’m excited.”
Despite a late kick-off time, fans visited local bars and restaurants early. “I like the social aspect of getting out you know, supporting businesses,” said Marquardt.
In Independence, Winking Lizard’s regional manager Kevin Quigley told us with night games some customers leave early to avoid missing the game with Ohio’s 10 p.m. curfew, which has hurt their servers and bartenders. But usually, the curfew lines up with halftime.
“I think one of the biggest fears for all the managers in the stores is like the Browns are in the middle of a touchdown drive and we have to turn the TVs off and ask people to leave,” Quigley said.
Jed’s Restaurant in Valley View says their business has also been impacted by the late games, and finding out the playoff game would be one was deflating.
“Originally we planned on decorating, going all out here with streamers and balloons but then when we found out it was a nighttime game it was like, that kind of held us back a little bit,” said bartender Julie Sotak.
While COVID-19 has ruled out high fives and mingling, fans still enjoyed the socially distant company.
“It’s just the atmosphere. When you’ve got a bunch of Browns fans together or any fans together, it’s just great to share the vibe with them,” said Weber.
Some say they would be at Heinz Field if they could, to witness this historic game. Others would be here even without the pandemic. “I just feel like downtown would be the place to be, celebrating in the city,” said Weber.
Young fans were full of excitement for the first Browns playoff game of their lives. “We’ve always watched the Browns a lot and we’ve been through some tough seasons and even trying to keep ’em on as Browns fans so we’re really excited this year that they’re able to watch the playoffs with us,” said Todd Schmidt, while eating with his two sons.
All fans hope their cheers will be heard through the screen.
“It’s been so long, I mean, since the Browns have made the playoffs, and, I mean, what better way to celebrate than to be out with friends and watch the game and hopefully cheer the Browns to a win,” said Arthur Wells.
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