CLEVELAND — A pity parade has given the Browns more motivation to avoid NFL shame.
Just two losses from becoming the second team in league history to go 0-16, the Browns want to avoid further embarrassment by having their inglorious season celebrated with a parade around their downtown stadium.
A group of fans are planning to gather on Jan. 6 at FirstEnergy Stadium for “Perfect Season Parade 2.0,” a mocking celebration that has gathered momentum in recent weeks and is being partially funded by Excedrin, the headache medicine, which donated $7,683 to complete a $10,000 fundraising effort for costs.
With his team at 0-14 and staring at unwanted notoriety, Browns coach Hue Jackson said he understands why fans in this football-mad region are frustrated.
“They’re entitled to do what they want,” said Jackson, who fell to 1-29 as Cleveland’s coach following Sunday’s loss to Baltimore.
“They have true passion about the Browns and we really appreciate that. We haven’t been good enough. Let’s just be honest. That’s where we are, so everyone in our organization is working extremely hard to make sure that there’s not a parade.
“But we have to uphold our end of it and make sure that we’re winning. So I get it. Would it be disappointing if they had one? Yes. But at the same time, I do get it. We just haven’t been good enough to get all that kind of talk stopped.”
In October, Browns fan Chris McNeil, who has more than 66,000 Twitter followers, launched a GoFundMe account for the parade.
As of Monday, the event’s Facebook page said nearly 10,000 people were interested in attending and more than 2,500 said they will go.
“I’m big on people can do whatever they want,” Browns center JC Tretter said. “I hope we, as a group, ruin what they’re planning, but people are entitled to their own opinions and whatever they want to do and celebrate. I might not be a fan of it, but it doesn’t offend me. I’m not easily offended. So they can plan whatever they want, but I hope we ruin it.”
The first team to go 0-14 in consecutive seasons, the Browns scuttled plans for a parade last year when they beat the then-San Diego Chargers on Christmas Eve and finished 1-15.
They need to win this week at Chicago or in Pittsburgh on Dec. 31 to elude an imperfect season. The 2008 Detroit Lions are the only team to finish 0-16.
Jackson said his players don’t need any reminders what they’re facing — and how they could be remembered.
“I will talk to them, but I think our players know,” he said during a conference call. “We don’t want to go in the record books that way by any stretch. Nobody does. We didn’t set out for this to happen this way. This is football. This is the way things go when things are not going well for you.
“So we’ve got to do everything we can on our part over the next two weeks and our whole organization is trying to do everything possible to make sure we come away with some victories here. We’ve had some chances and haven’t been able to secure them. We’ve got two more opportunities and we’re going to give it everything we have.”