After winning only one of their 36 games between 2016 and 2017, setting a series of humiliating records along the way, the Cleveland Browns are now, if you get drunk and squint really hard, a kinda spunky and mildly amusing NFL franchise. Baker Mayfield, their large and fresh-faced quarter back, has not yet learned of the crushing void that waits beneath him every time he lines up under center; wide receiver Jarvis Landry will continue biff his teammates on the skull until they display the kind of heart required in the rust belt; their offensive line coach, who belongs on the label of a bottom-shelf bourbon, has so much goddamned grit that he thinks stretching before exercise is for cowardly millenials.
They are, however, still fundamentally doomed. After squeaking out a win against a forlorn Ravens team last week, the Browns sit at .500 on the season. They are no longer an embarrassment in the eyes of God and Ohio, but their chances of making the playoffs are still about the same as my chances of getting into shape, flying to Los Angeles, running furiously around the Coliseum, catching Sean McVay's eye, getting picked up by the Rams, and then making the playoffs myself.
What, then, is Snoop Dogg doing here?
That's Snoop, supposedly a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, striding through the Browns' practice facility and telling their fans to "turn out this weekend" for a home game against the Chargers*: "Y'all got a new feeling, a new spirit—let's go get it done, Dawg Pound."
He went on, telling the world that the Browns are in great shape. Per Cleveland.com:
"The real Dogg had to come see the Dawg Pound and make it official," he said on Cleveland Browns Daily. "I like a lot of players y’all got on your team. I like what y'all doing. (Jarvis) Landry, (Baker) Mayfield, (Myles) Garrett, (Jabrill) Peppers. It's a bunch of guys I like how they get down."
What, precisely, Snoop was making official remains unclear. He participated in the vile New England Patriots' ring ceremony last year, and he even wore merchandise with their middle management-ass logo emblazoned on it for the occasion. But at least the Patriots, in all their grotesqueness, are a seemingly unkillable football dynasty. The Browns are still the Browns.
You may think, then, that there is no good reason for Snoop to flirt with changing his allegiance to the Steelers' AFC North rivals. You would be wrong. Again from Cleveland.com:
Snoop Dogg, a Steelers fan, was in town to promote his "Redemption of a Dogg" stage play, which comes to Playhouse Square on October 28.
There's so much to enjoy in that sentence. "Redemption of a Dogg," according to Playhouse Square's website, "examines the internal battle one man has between preserving his life-long legacy and losing the love of his life when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family." It is almost certainly going to be a masterpiece. And Playhouse Square itself is directly beneath this massive outdoor chandelier that I bring up on my phone every time Cleveland comes up in conversation (more often than you'd think). There is only one reason to toy with fandom; that reason is "Redemption of a Dogg."
Browns coach Hue Jackson was grateful for Snoop's appearance, but, brilliantly, he wasn't getting too worked up about things. There will be many more where Snoop came from, he insisted in a press conference. Many more:
"Snoop, I've known him for quite a while," said Jackson. "He's been around some other places I have been. ... It was good to have him out for a moment. A lot of guys see him on the sideline, and his message was 'Man, you guys are doing some good things, some really good things.'
"I thought that was great. At the same time, there are going to be a lot of people that want to come be on this wagon when the wagon gets rolling, and we're going to circle the wagon. I know that because I didn't see any of these people the last two years.
I genuinely hope that the Browns' "bandwagon" gets so full that it starts to creak. I wish this team, its stretch-agnostic OL coach, and its long-suffering fans nothing but the best. I honestly quite like Cleveland, to my knowledge the only city in the world with a massive fucking outdoor chandelier. And I cannot wait to see "Redemption of a Dogg."
But above all, I admire Hue Jackson, an almost dangerously confident man with three wins and a Snoop Dogg endorsement under his belt.
*Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that the Browns were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. They're not. The Englishman who wrote this piece has now been locked in a room where he'll be forced to watch 24 hours of NFL Network programming.
Alex Robert Ross occasionally has bad sports takes on Twitter.