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September 12, 2010 - Mike McLain
You could say that the Browns face an important season opener today against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
All season-opening games are important as teams try to get off to a good start. A loss means that dreaded talk a week later about losing the first two games, which makes chances of qualifying for the playoffs more unlikely.
Today's game is important to the Browns for two reasons -- coach Eric Mangini's future with the team and fan reaction.
It's no secret that Mangini's seat is warm after the 5-11 record posted last season. He probably would have been fired if not for a four-game winning streak to end the season.
Mangini can't afford a loss to the Bucs, who were one of the worst teams in the NFL last seaon. It would immediately make the seat hot approaching the home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
As for the fans, can you imagine what Monday morning will be like in northeast Ohio if the Browns lose? I guarantee you that there will be calls for the firing of Mangini by irate callers on talk radio shows.
The NFL did the Browns a favor by scheduling the Bucs and Chiefs in weeks one and two. The Browns have won only one season opener (2004 against Baltimore) since their return in 1999. They haven't started 2-0 since the 1993 season, when they opened with three wins (against the Bengals, 49ers and Raiders).
The fans aren't exactly the most patient of people these days. The Browns have been losing consistently since the late 1980s. The Indians are in last place with little hope for the future because of baseball's crazy financial system. The Cavs are in trouble because of LeBron James' "decision."
The Browns are the best hope of the fans. They need to start the season with a win over the Bucs.
Mangini doesns't want to think what it will be like if the Bucs win.
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