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On meeting Joe Haden at a Cavs game, and a new football season for the Cleveland Browns

We may be a basketball site, but football is fun too

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Many of the people who spend their time at Fear the Sword pull for all three of Cleveland's major professional sports teams. Many don't. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and of course, LeBron James are players that transcend Cleveland in certain ways. The Cavs employ international players from five different continents, and so the team's reach is significant. When a team is good there are always more than a few who want to jump on a bandwagon.

I can't claim to pull for all three Cleveland sports teams (though I usually make it to a few Tribe games nonetheless), but the Browns have been a major part of my life. I was a Browns fan before I was a Cavs fan. I was convinced that the 9-7 Browns playoff team was going to go to the Super Bowl. I was young, and maybe not all that bright. While the Browns have struggled for just about their entire existence in the current incarnation, Cleveland remains obsessed. My friends and I, as well. We'll be at the home opener on September 20 like we always are, expecting the worst but believing things can change.

One of the most fun things about the Cavs playoff run and return to relevance is the way in which the Browns bought in. LeBron James is a famous fan of Johnny Manziel, and lent his voice to the Browns intro video last season. Manziel, coach Mike Pettine, and Joe Haden were a staple at Cavs games this season. As the season goes on, make sure you are visiting our SB Nation Cleveland compatriots at Dawgs By Nature. They do a great job covering the team.

I'm not going to try and do any analysis here (the defense is good; Josh McCown, I dunno) of the team, but I do have a story from Game 3 of the NBA Finals. It was halftime, and I went downstairs from my media seating to grab a water and look over my notes. The players had gone into the locker rooms, and I ducked through one of the few private areas in an arena overflowing with 20,000 some fans and workers. It wasn't completely private of course; friendly staff guarding the locker rooms and wandering media personnel were there.

Mostly though, I was on my own. The only other people cutting through were Joe Haden and his wife Sarah, and they were about 10 feet in front of me. I had a crisis of conscience. Joe Haden is my favorite Brown. I'm a Browns fan. I was working. This might have been the only private moment Mr. Haden and his wife got until they left the arena. If I were there as a fan, I wouldn't have been in the position I was in. Should I bother him? Would it be unprofessional?

"Mr. Haden" I said. I tried to say it loud enough without sounding like I was yelling him down. He and his wife turned around.

"Mr. Haden, I feel terrible bothering you, I just wanted to say that though I'm here working as a basketball writer, I'm a very big Browns fan and I really enjoy watching you play."

At least, that's how I remember myself saying it.

Joe and his wife smiled, and thanked me. I quickly told him I didn't need any more of his time, but both of them were more than happy to talk. I won't say a ton about our conversation, but the fact that they took 90 seconds or so was as cool as it was unnecessary. He cares deeply about the city of Cleveland, and wants the Browns to be great. When we went out into a more public area right after, he was immediately surrounded by more people like me who wanted his time. When I came back through five minutes later, he was still shaking hands and taking pictures.

Joe Haden didn't have to go to Cavs games when the team wasn't great, but he did. He doesn't have to be great with fans, but he is. He's worth cheering for. I'll be at the home opener in a Joe Haden jersey. Go Browns.