This offseason, Cleveland Browns linesman Joel Bitonio caused confusion by boldly stating that this season “Cleveland is against the whole world.”
The remarks came after a very hostile reception received by quarterback Deshaun Watson at the first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. “It seems more than ever, Cleveland is against the whole world, so we will be ready for that,” Bitonio said at the time.
But given the situation surrounding Watson, NFL fans didn’t appreciate that Bitonio viewed it as a simple rivalry issue. Therefore, Bitonio spoke to the media on Wednesday, trying to clarify the situation.
Bitonio explained that Browns quarterbacks are always booed when they go to rival stadiums. As a result, he feels that the team should always have a “us versus the world” mentality.
“Yes, I noticed (who was talking about it),” Bitonio said via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I noticed and said that we’re going to go to stadiums and people will boo us, regardless of who plays quarterback for us, and as a team we go out and say, “Cleveland vs. the world.” If people want to take it in the wrong context or talk about it in the wrong context, that’s their opinion, but I know there are good people on our team who work hard and try to be the best for the Cleveland Browns. I’m like a player who has been here for nine years, and if someone wants to think that I don’t like and don’t appreciate things in my life, then that’s their opinion… But I know where I am and where I am, I’m in touch with Cleveland and the people on this team.”
But just because Joel Bitonio treats the Cleveland Browns like that doesn’t mean the whole NFL world has to accept it.
The Browns effectively became public enemy number one for signing Deshaun Watson to a major deal while he was under investigation and suing for sexual harassment and violations of NFL rules.
In the past, fans booed Browns quarterbacks just because they were rivals. But the buzz Deshaun Watson will get will probably be bigger than anything they’ve ever experienced.