The Cleveland Browns clinched a playoff spot for the first time 2002 on Sunday. The league's longest postseason drought ended with a 24-22 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in what felt like a cathartic experience for an entire city. That feeling was summed up best by long-time Browns radio voice Jim Donovan's excitement as the clock wound to zero.
Donovan has been the lead play-by-play man for the Cleveland Browns Radio Network since the franchise was re-launched in 1999. That man has seen a lot of terrible NFL football. The 64-year-old's call of the team finally getting back to the postseason was incredible.
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"And the only thing missing is all of you" was a beautiful way to sum it up. There were 12,000 fans in attendance but that's only a fraction of what the crowd would have been without a global pandemic. In a normal year the party in the stands would have been raucous.
Donovan's voice told the entire story. The unbridled joy spoke for a fanbase tortured by years of disappointment.
It's been a long road to hoe for Browns fans. This is the same franchise that won one game in 2016 and none in 2017. The team entered 2019 with playoff hopes but had them dashed in a 6-10 season. In 2020, the Browns got over the hump and reached the postseason with a record of 11-5 and finally gave their fans something to cheer about.
At long last, the Browns are back in the playoffs and Donovan gets to call another postseason game.