635 days is a long time. I think that's pretty plain to see.
But how about this. Imagine not being successful at your job for that long. 635 days of trying and trying and trying again, only to end ultimately unsuccessful.
That was the Cleveland Browns…until last Thursday night.
Now, in all honesty, the Browns' unsuccess runs much deeper than 635 days. After all, in the tries before that last win, they lost 14 games in a row. They haven't won more than six games since 2014, and haven't been able to claim a winning record since 2007. The last time they even competed in the playoffs was 2002. And winning a playoff game? Well, that's gotta be 1994.
I wasn't even alive in 1994.
Yet, for all of their maligned history, the Browns showed a spark on Thursday night that seems unlike anything else before. Even their rivals in badness who they bested, the New York Jets, haven't seen the kind of performance from their quarterbacks that the Browns put out.
Sam Darnold is good, but on Thursday Baker Mayfield was better.
Now, that's not to say that this Battle of the Rookies is over. With both young players and both teams in the AFC, we'll likely see Darnold v. Mayfield many times yet in the coming years. Which, considering Mayfield's play on Thursday and Darnold's play in previous outings, is a very exciting prospect.
But you have to hand it to Mayfield. He played with poise and a collectedness that has been lacking throughout the Browns organization for decades. What impressed me most was the strength of his passes. While league pundits have been praising second-year Patrick Mahomes for his cannon of an arm (and rightfully so), Mayfield may not be far behind.
What's more, Mayfield was accurate, something else that Tyrod Taylor, the man he replaced, was good, but not great at. Taylor passed for 4-14 for 19 yards before leaving the game to enter the NFL's concussion protocol. Mayfield finished the game 17-23 for 201 yards passing. That's a passer rating of 100.1.
Yet, while Mayfield got the chance to ride off into the sunset and Cleveland broke open the beer coolers Thursday night, things are not at an end. With a record of 1-1-1, the Browns are off to a better start than a fair number of teams, but seeing the hunger in Cleveland for even one win, there will surely be clamoring for more.
"Gotta handle business next week," Mayfield expounded in a postgame interview. Truer words might never have been spoken. And with the Oakland Raiders reeling at 0-2, the possibility of the Browns getting to a winning record (yes winning) is entirely reasonable, especially if Mayfield plays the way that he did last night.
As a fan of one of the NFL's most successful franchises in the Green Bay Packers, I'm overcome by pride for my team. I've sat with them through some bad times (last year's 7-9 campaign comes to mind) but considering Aaron Rodgers' dominance, things have mostly been good. In truth, I can't imagine the suffering, toiling in absolute failure for nigh on two years.
The Browns not only needed a win on Thursday for their bottom line but for their own spiritual and psychological development as well. Now with Baker Mayfield at the helm, they're going to hunger for more.
The rest of the National Football League best be ready.