Need something to encapsulate 2016? The Cleveland Browns are the actual team that represents this horrible year.

In 2016, calling things a dumpster fire passed into a level of triteness that gets you screenshot and mocked if you make the comparison with sincerity on social media. That has something to do with the fact that so many things this year could be summed up in such a way. Politics, the general state of discourse, the living status of many beloved celebrities, and, of course, the Cleveland Browns.

People complained about 2015 being bad, sort of in the way that every year is bellyached about to some degree, though 2016 bitching took on a life of its own. It was wall-to-wall badness. And no team did a better job of representing that on the playing field than the Cleveland Browns.

Going into Week 15, tNo team represents 2016 better than the Cleveland Browns
hey’ve won no games. They’ve had seven different players attempt a pass, and only one of them was a gimmick from another position player. They’ve actually used six quarterbacks. Just this past Sunday, one of them did this:

As relatably awful football plays go, this one ranks high. Like us, the Browns are desperate to make things right with a quick fix after allowing matters to fall into a unfixable mess. Naturally, it doesn’t work, as posting rants on social media does little to correct our many ills, but seems like something in the moment. Eventually, anyone who professes to feel a feeling about the Browns is left confused and disoriented, much in the way the rest of us are shuffling haphazardly through the final weeks of 2016. Browns fans can’t hang a banner in the right order. The rest of our struggle to piece our lives together in manifold ways, albeit a little less graphically appealing.

Whereas other Cleveland pro sports franchises, and even local UFC fighter Stipe Miocic, were doing uncharacteristically Cleveland things like winning or at least vying for championships in their respective sport, the Browns stayed true to themselves. In doing so, they represented the overall tenor of the year – one of constant agony with little help of reprieve.

If we were hoping for something better in 2016, the Browns certainly weren’t. This is a franchise that was ready for the suck and prepared to lead the way. Coming into the season, there was many questions leveled from reporters about whether the team was tanking. By the time they got to 0-8 or so, the question was kind of moot. Premeditated or not, the Browns were exactly as bad they were. But the franchise assures fans that they’re building toward the future. They have foolish dreams like the rest of us, that the arrival of 2017 will mean better things. They even did things like trade for Jamie Collins, suggesting a vision that at some point the Browns won’t be bad. That’s reckless optimism if I’ve ever heard it.

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 27:  A Cleveland Browns watches the third quarter during the game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – NOVEMBER 27: A Cleveland Browns watches the third quarter during the game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 27, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

This week marked the one-year anniversary since the Browns last won a game. They’re three losses away from equaling the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16. The next two weeks at Buffalo and at home against the Chargers offer the best chances against teams that already know they have nothing to play for. It’s possible that Cleveland is just hungier than these middling, but not thoroughly embarrassed teams. If there are any Browns fans foolish enough to seize on hope, there’s always that. But they should know better than to expect anything. This is a team that comforted us in the predictability of its badness. A late win would be a hopeful note that neither this team nor this year deserves.

Sorry, Browns, we just need you to encapsulate our sad year. After all, we had to settle for Jeff Fisher getting fired just before he could own the loss record.

About Mike Tunison

Mike Tunison is a freelance writer, former editor of Kissing Suzy Kolber, and author of The Football Fan's Manifesto. He has no outrageous food takes though is interested in a bite of what you have there. Looks good.