Publisher Bruce Trogdon

It’s the week that I and a lot of people like me have been anxiously waiting for ... the start of the Cleveland Browns season. It is also the week that a lot of people like my wife dread ... the start the start of the Cleveland Browns season!

If my parents were still alive, I would have to ask them which came first for me, learning to walk or rooting for the Browns? Were my first words Dada, Mama or Jim Brown? Well, I am not for sure about those questions, but one thing is for sure: my parents raised me right to be a Browns fan.

Growing up watching the great Jim Brown (I wore the number 32 in high school for a reason) and then Lou “The Toe” Groza kicking the field goals, it was almost impossible not to become a lifelong fan. A lot easier than when my son Mike grew up that’s for sure. I think that is why he made hockey his favorite sport.

But now hear this: the Browns are back, baby! For those of you we lost during the Great Cleveland Football Depression, this is officially time to heal the wounds and hop back on the bandwagon.

For added pleasure, our popular Goal Post Pro Football Challenge is back and better than ever. Playing is free and easy and those who do win tons of great local prizes. If you haven’t done so already, go to thepostnewspapers.com/goal and sign up today! It is never too late because there are weekly prizes.

An avid football fan, I must brag that I have done very well over the years playing our game. I am not eligible to win prizes, but I still enjoy competing because it is just a fun game. Even though I am always trying to win, I have always handicapped myself by picking the Browns too much. I am just a loyal fan and cannot root against them! This year, it may work to my advantage anyway.

Count me as extremely optimistic about the Browns. I am super impressed with their management these days, particularly General Manager John Dorsey. And I, like many of you, have been pleasantly surprised what I see from first-time Head Coach Freddie Kitchens. He seems like a no-nonsense guy that people from around here will like and appreciate.

Dorsey obviously has a great eye for talent. The drafting and player acquisition is night and day better than that of previous regimes. Dorsey has rolled the dice on some potentially risky personalities though. For instance, the Browns signed 23-year-old former NFL rushing champion Kareem Hunt last winter. Hunt is suspended for the first eight games after a violent act against a woman led to his being released by the Chiefs last December. The Browns say Hunt has turned things around. That’s risky.

The Browns in March pulled off a huge trade for superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He has a big, diva-like personality that rubbed management the wrong way in New York. His talent is unquestioned. That’s risky.

Dorsey also added a big-time pair of defensive line starters in March when he traded for Olivier Vernon and signed Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is a former Defensive Rookie of the Year who’s now on his fourth team in four years. That’s risky.

The biggest reason for optimism is that Dorsey selected the former Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield as the No. 1 pick in the entire draft in 2018. Despite being an inspirational leader, Mayfield has a fiery personality that has gotten him into trouble going back to his college days. He is also undersized. That’s risky.

But, so far so good on Mayfield. I did not like the pick at the time. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I love the kid now. He is an uncannily talented quarterback. I also just love his Energizer Bunny personality. He is a hard worker, despite all the cockiness and hype.

The Browns already had two defensive Pro Bowlers last year in defensive end Myles Garrett and former Buckeye cornerback Denzel Ward (another great draft pick by Dorsey). Plus, Dorsey drafted running back Nick Chubb last year and that reminds me of the good old days of Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly. Adding all that talent to the core we already had gives the Browns something we fans haven’t enjoyed in a long time. Real hope.

Can the Browns coach Freddie Kitchen control all these egos? I am betting that he can. The Browns will win big in 2019. Dare we dream Super Bowl? I do!

How good do you think that Browns will be this year? That is The Post online reader poll question for the week.

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