As much as Browns fans want to believe there's a jinx on their favorite football team, there's no such thing.
Just because quarterback Brian Hoyer suffered a season-ending knee injury at a time when it seemed a quarterback had finally put out the fire doesn't mean something mystical is working here. No force other than Hoyer made him attempt an awkward dive/slide that twisted his right knee.
Still, there are fans sitting at home with their Ouija boards and tarot cards convinced that something paranormal is to blame. How else, they ask, can one team be struck with such misfortune?
The four-letter word - jinx - hadn't come up in conversation for quite awhile, mainly because the Browns had been so bad that even evil spirits stayed away. But the Browns are no longer bad. As we enter the fifth Sunday of the NFL season, they are "firmly" entrenched atop the AFC North Division with a 3-2 record.
Better yet for Browns' fans is that the Steelers are, in the words of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the worst team in the NFL and still in search of their first win. Life was so good prior to last Thursday night that not even a shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays by the Indians in the American League wild-card round could dampen spirits.
Then came the injury that seemed to suck the life out of First Energy Stadium. While Hoyer was writhing in pain on the field, thousands of fans in the stadium and at home felt an inner pain. As one fan put it when informed that Hoyer was done for the season: "I have to watch Brandon Weeden for 11 more weeks."
That's the crux of the issue. That's why fans think the jinx factor is alive and well and dwelling somewhere near Alfred Lerner Way. Probably 60 percent or more of them believe they saw enough of Weeden last season to believe he's not the answer.
Apparently many of those same fans believe Hoyer is the guy, which is a reach when considering he's started all of four games in five NFL seasons. When hunger for a savior at quarterback is great, people will buy anyone who shows signs of being the first quarterback since Bernie Kosar to stabilize the position.
It helps that Hoyer is a hometown kid. If you live in northeastern Ohio, you feel a kinship with him. It doesn't matter if you've never stepped foot on the St. Ignatius campus near downtown Cleveland.
There are reasons other than loyalty and provincialism to gravitate toward Hoyer. He is a better quarterback than Weeden, who, according to "Profootballfocus.com," had an average release time of an NFL-worst 4.2 seconds last season. Weeden stares down receivers, pats the ball and shows signs of panic when protection understandably collapses.
There's also the fact that the AFC North can no longer be considered elite. The Steelers look old and the Bengals look average. Maybe the Ravens are better than everyone thinks, but they're coming off a loss to the Bills.
The division is ripe for the taking, and there's no reason why the Browns can't pluck a title from the tree. At least that's the way things seemed before the Hoyer injury.
Again, it has nothing to do with a jinx. I didn't believe it when former Browns' PR employee Chuck Fisher sprinkled dirt on the turf at Three Rivers Stadium in 1985 to remove what he thought was a jinx that had caused the Browns to lose 15 straight times in Pittsburgh, and I don't believe it today ... I think.
The Browns lost the 1985 game in Pittsburgh, 10-9. The streak ended with a 27-24 win in 1986, about four weeks after Fisher had been killed in a train-car collision.
Somewhere today Fisher would probably say jinxes exist and that his mason jar full of dirt removed the Browns of their losing ways in Pittsburgh.
I'm starting to be swayed, especially after what happened last Thursday.