Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field, after a third down play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half on December 27, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Peter G. Aiken—Getty Images
By Brad Tuttle
January 8, 2016

It’s bad enough that good NFL teams make fans pay “personal seat license” fees in order to secure season tickets and charge full price for meaningless preseason games that fans must buy if they want to be season ticketholders.

When poorly performing NFL franchises resort to gouging their most loyal fans—and that’s who season ticketholders are—the level of outrage can soar. Such is the case with the Cleveland Browns, a team that lost the last five games of the 2014-2015 season and finished at 7-9 but still decided to raise ticket prices around this time last year. For the more recent season, the Browns dropped back from its nearly .500 record of the year before and finished with at a more typically Brownish 3-13.

How bad have the Browns been? As Sports Illustrated’s Peter King pointed out recently, over the last 12 years, the quarterback with the most wins at Browns Stadium is Derek Anderson, with 10 victories. In a close second place, with 9 wins, is Ben Roethlisberger—who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Browns, and only plays in Cleveland once a year.

How do you even begin trying to sell fans on the idea of buying season tickets for such a profoundly inept team? A new mock YouTube ad created by Cleveland comedian Mike Polk Jr., has some fun with this very idea (H/T Deadspin).

In the pitch, an excited voiceover implores would-be season ticketholders, “You’d better hurry because they are going fast!” Then, a split second later, another low-key voice quickly says under his breath, “Not a true statement.”

With little success to point to during the most recent season, the ad pumps up the fact that next year will be teeming with mystery for the Browns: “We have no idea who our general manager, coach, or quarterback will be!”

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYBmzPUI-Qs&w=640&h=360]

As a final shot, the ad takes a crack at the way NFL teams make preseason tickets mandatory for season ticketholders, at the same price as regular season games. “Order your 2016 Browns season tickets today, and we’ll include tickets to two mandatory preseason games at absolutely full cost!” These are tickets, mind you, that are known to sell for under $10 on the secondary market, but for which fans are forced to pay $50, or $80, or $150.

You get the idea. While the video focuses on the Cleveland Browns, fans of some other long-struggling franchises may identify with a lot of what’s here. Or at least they’ll feel lucky they don’t root for Cleveland.

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