Frustration is often a common feeling for those pulling for Cleveland sports teams during the last half-century.
It is no different for our first Last Fan Standing, Newton Falls resident Rod Zeck, an independent insurance agent.
Frustrations for Zeck would be watching the Browns challenge for the conference championship, but lose right before getting to the Super Bowl twice in the late 1960s and three more times in the 1980s.
"I was crushed each time," he said.
In October of 1969, shortly after graduating from Kent State with a bachelor's degree, Zeck and friends Rich and Tim decided to go see the Browns live in person for the first time at the old lakefront stadium.
"We drove to Warren and went to the ticket broker on Woodland Avenue.We bought $4 seats that were marked Open Stands. I borrowed my Mom's Chevy and we drove to the game. The Dallas Cowboys came into town with a 6-0 record and the Browns were 4-1-1. When we got there, we discovered that the open stands were the bleachers, pre- Dawg Pound days.
"We walked in with our letter jackets on in the middle of guys drinking wine out of goat skins, whiskey out of big glass bottles and eating fried chicken out of brown paper bags."
Warren Harding's star Paul Warfield scored on a pass from Bill Nelsen on their first offensive play. By the half, the Browns were ahead 28-3 and won 42-10. Three months later, Art Modell traded local hero Paul Warfield.
"What? Not for the first overall pick in the draft but the 3rd. Pittsburgh took Terry Bradshaw, and we ended up with Mike Phipps."
The same day, Modell also traded Pro Bowler Jim Kanicki and future Pro Bowl running back Ron Johnson to the Giants for Homer Jones.
"Within hours, the Browns were decimated on both sides of the ball. The trades didn't work out and the 70's were a misery for Browns fans," Zeck said.
That same feeling was associated with being Indians fans as the 1970s turned into the 1980s.
The 1980s started with some high hopes for Browns fans because of Brian Sipe, Sam Rutigliano and the Kardiac Kids.
"January 4, 1981 with Red Right 88 is my day of infamy. I'll never get over that one. I couldn't wait for the '81 season to start. I'd go just about every day to Kent to watch them practice in August. I became friends with Jim Swearingen who covered them for the Tribune. We both had high hopes, but they would finish 5-11. It only got worse as the 1980's rolled on with Denver going to three Super Bowls instead of us," Zeck lamented.
Zeck said his feelings of frustration were compounded by tragedy. He pointed to the drug-related death of safety Don Rogers, the huge leader of an "almost perfect" defense.
"If he doesn't die tragically, I don't think Elway completes all those passes over the middle. But I remained loyal just the same."
As for the Browns of the 1990s, Rod recalled the watershed moment to be the hiring of some unknown named Belecheck, who cut local hero Bernie Kosar while the team is in first place right before the Steeler game in the middle of the 1993 season.
" Things spiral downward from there. Rumors are true that Modell wants to move the team out of Cleveland. What?! Now what are we gonna do?"
Rod says one thing is sure.
"I'm not going to cheer for the Steelers or some other winning team. It's easy to be a front runner...just buy a hat. Not me! So we rally to save the name and colors. We fans even push so hard the NFL awards us an expansion franchise and helps build a new stadium. Oh my....have you ever heard be careful what you wish for?"
Rod and the rest of us Browns fans lament about 14 years of gut-wrenching losses and just one losing playoff appearance.
"Talk about a test of faith! But every Sunday I turn on the flat screen HD in stereo and watch loyally as another loss is pulled from the jaws of victory. Loyalty or habit? I ask myself every Sunday.''
Those Trumbull County sports fans who want to be featured as the next Last Fan Standing need to email the Couch Fan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook at Guy Vogrin.