BEREA, Ohio — Browns training camp is a fun way to watch the team prepare for the upcoming season, but for a fan who didn't think he had long to live, training camp is a second chance to watch the team he loves with the people he loves.
Jon Stemple, who goes to training camp every year, has been an avid Browns fan his entire life — a life that he said almost came to an end two years ago.
“I had gone to the hospital because I was having trouble breathing. I went and they told me I had major congestive heart failure and that I was on the brink of death,” Stemple said. “I had no idea.”
Stemple was taken to University Hospitals for further treatment. In advanced forms of heart failure, nearly 90 percent of patients die within one year. After being placed in hospice care, Stemple's medical condition really started to hit him.
“I didn’t know if I’d ever have the chance to come out to training camp or anything with the Browns or anything else again with my family,” Stemple said. “This is always a tradition we come to every year.”
Stemple spent two months in the hospital and lost a few hundred pounds due to illness, but never lost his love for the Browns. To Stemple’s surprise, his health began to improve, just in time to see the health of the Browns improve too.
“To be where I’m at today with my health and with the Browns, everything is just looking great, bright and beautiful,” Stemple said. “After all these years as a long-suffering Browns fan to come back to this amazing team, you couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Stemple took full advantage of the beautiful, sunny day in Berea with his family Thursday afternoon, watching the team run plays, cheering together as Baker Mayfield connected with Odell Beckham Jr. down the field and even adopting a dog at the Browns "Puppy Pound" adoption tent.
“We figured Brownie was a perfect name for him.”
After watching the Browns practice through the first day of training camp, the man who didn’t expect to live has some great expectations for his favorite team.
“I think the Super Bowl is on the way for the Browns, I think this is the year.”