EDIT: The fundraising period has ended with 820 backers donating $23,964 to the project.
You may or may not be a fan of Cleveland sports teams, but you are familiar with the history of heartbreak the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians have given their fans over the years. From The Drive to The Shot, Cleveland fans have experienced a lot of heartbreak from their favorite teams since their last professional championship in 1964. It’s such a common thing for Cleveland sports to fail, that even Cleveland sports blogs have adopted that mentality.
Scott O’Brien, a native of Cleveland who now lives in Los Angeles, decided to gather all the heartbreak he’s endured over the years as a fan of these three teams and put together a coloring book based on it. It’s an odd thing that has gained enough attention that his Kickstarter project has already exceeded its funding goal with more than three weeks left.
In an interview with But at the End of the Day, O’Brien explains his decision to create this coloring book.
“The book idea came out of nowhere,” O’Brien says. “I was sitting in L.A. traffic and I heard about the Browns firing their front office again and it just kind of clicked to me.”
O’Brien, father of a one-year old daughter, realized that another heartbreaking moment had just occurred and his kid will never understand his pain. He then thought about a possible way of explaining it to her when she grows up.
“There’s no way of explaining what I went through as a Cleveland fan growing up in the `80s,” O’Brien reflects. “I thought a coloring book would be a fun way to show her the history and why Cleveland fans are bummed out more than just a specific team you like.”
O’Brien isn’t a professional artist. He actually works with an ecommerce website and drawing is just a hobby that he’s had since he was a kid. He’s even started his own blog with some of his art. But his love for Cleveland sports and his interest in drawing led him to sharing his artwork. It first started with just sharing the creations with close friends and family, but now he wants to share it with the rest of the country.
It was rough going through his memory of heartbreak as a fan, but he’s seen it all over the decades.
“I watch every Browns game, I watch pretty much every Cavs game and I watch most Indians games while I’m out here,” O’Brien says of his fandom for the teams. “I would compile a list (for the designs) and I would check with friends and family… For the most part I had the ideas and I started writing them down.”
The Kickstarter project started on February 11 with the goal of reaching $2,000 by March 16. Only a week into the 33-day fundraising period, O’Brien has received support from over 190 backers for over $6,800. It has exceeded his expectation but it’s a great surprise as to how much people want to be a part of this project.
“I thought either I was going to get no support on it or a decent amount of support,” O’Brien says. “But it’s been crazy. I think there’s a lot of Cleveland fans who are like me or are the same age as me who’ve been through a lot of this.”
With so much support for the project, there is an added pressure for O’Brien to deliver his 55-page coloring book to his backers.
“I always wanted to do this for myself and I planned on getting a few copies of my friends and family, but now there’s a lot more attention behind it there’s definitely more pressure,” O’Brien says with optimism. “There’s a lot more pressure, I feel like I am doing it for myself anyways so I feel like I want to do a good job.”
Among famous moments such as The Fumble (which you can see in the above photo), other classic disappointing Cleveland memories include The Curse of Rocky Colavito, Red Right 88, The Ted Stepien Rule and the famous Willie Mays catch.
Which heartbreaking moment is the one that stands out to him the most?
“Either The Drive or The Fumble,” says O’Brien.
“As a kid I thought the Cleveland Browns would win the Super Bowl. I thought Bernie Kosar was the best quarterback and I thought the Brows were the best team.”
But what about a positive Cleveland sports moment?
“I have to go with something of recent memory and I have to go with LeBron’s Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit,” O’Brien recalls. In that game, LeBron James had a historic performance, scoring the Cavaliers’ last 25 points and 29 of their last 30 points in a thrilling double overtime win. “I was going from ‘Oh my God we’re going to lose this’ to ‘He can’t miss!’ That’s the one that sticks out in my mind.”
Three years later, James would break Cleveland’s heart with The Decision. That painful moment, naturally, is also commemorated in the coloring book.