CLEVELAND — Sunday was a heartbreaker for both the Browns and their fans. The 13-point blown lead in less than two minutes shook FirstEnergy Stadium to the core and fans weren't shy about letting their frustration with the players and the on-field implosion known.
Fans showered down boos at each devastating play that led to another Jets score and let loose as the team walked off the field. An emotional loss for everyone, players in the locker room didn't want to talk. Only two players spoke at the podium, and the ever-outspoken star defensive end Myles Garrett shared the frustrations of his own when asked about letting the fans down.
"I mean the more disappointing thing was the booing at the end. It was not the most optimal ending that we’d want. Of course we’d want to win. Of course we wanted to play out the game and it end 30-16 or 30-17 or whatever it was, we get a pick or a strip sack and end the game. But that's not always how it goes. These guys are still putting their asses on the line and playing as hard as they can, and they should be respected as such," Garrett said. "We have a lot of time to correct what we're doing, so we don't want to see this crowd, this stadium give up on us this early. We want to see them completely behind us. And it’s disappointing for everybody, but it’s absolutely disappointing for us as a team."
While they were made in the heat of the moment, just moments after the tough loss, the comments were not well received by fans when they heard them. The reaction from Garrett on fans booing their own team wasn't the only time this week a player has spoken out about the phenomenon.
After their rivalry loss to the Packers, the Bears received a slew of criticism from fans online, voicing embarrassment in their on-field product and inability to beat Green Bay in a game that matters most to the fanbase. Bears quarterback Justin Fields, a former Ohio State star, took the podium after the loss and was asked about the feelings of disappointment from fans.
“It hurts more in the locker room than the Bears fans cause at the end of the day they’re not putting in any work. I see the guys in the locker room every day, I see how much work they put in," Fields said.
While both Garrett and Fields made their comments just after the game, over the course of a few days, emotions around fan boos have tapered off.
Within the Browns, understanding the fan perspective has been a growing trend since Sunday, with many players now sympathizing with the crowd who came in droves to support them.
For Browns guard Joel Bitonio, this kind of thing isn't new to him and is something he fully expects during and after bad performances.
"They’re obviously disappointed. I’ve been here nine years now and I’ve been booed at least once every year, if not more as a team. They put their hard-earned money in support of the team and they were frustrated and they were disappointed, just like we were frustrated and disappointed," Bitonio said. "It’s tough. You love the fans, you love the support they give and stuff like that. It’s a frustrating aspect of it. Hopefully we don’t give them a reason to boo in the future."
Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah compared the booing to a good relationship—it's tough love, but love nonetheless.
"For me, I’m a tough love type of guy. I would say it was a righteous move. In a relationship, you’d probably want your girl to tell you you’re not doing right. It is what it is. We love the fans and the fans still love us," Owusu-Koramoah said.
Looking back a few day later, cornerback Greg Newsome II decided that if he was watching from the stands on Sunday, he'd be jeering right alongside the fans.
“I know the fans did boo. I would have booed too after a loss like that too," Newsome said.
The time to cool off and reflect on the game, and fan reaction to it, was something that was much needed for the team and seems to have put the team in a better place with everything as they prepare for the Steelers on a short week.
Newsome, in a sentiment shared by his teammates, does hope that the rivalry matchup is not just a big win to wash the taste of the Jets loss out of their mouths—but a way to prove to the fans why they are worthy of their cheers.
"My message to the fans is just to stick with us. It was Week 2, we're 1-1, obviously I feel like we should have been 2-0 but it's a long season," Newsome said. "We’re going to need them, especially down the stretch and especially right now so stick with us and we’ll make them proud by the end of the season."
The conversation with Newsome was part of a larger discussion about fans, the Browns' early defensive struggles and the fire that comes with a rivalry matchup with the Steelers. You can catch that conversation with Camryn Justice during the Browns pre-game coverage Thursday night beginning at 7 p.m. right here on News 5.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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