As summer turns to autumn, many an Ohioan’s mind turns to the sport of football. (There’s a reason the Pro Football Hall of Fame is in Canton.) This weekend marks the start of the NFL season, and like many other Ohio ex-pat football fans, you may be wondering where you can support Browns and Bengals instead of Jets and Giants. While there is probably no way to truly escape New York fans cheering on the hometown teams, there are several enclaves around the city for orange contingencies, be it orange and brown or orange and black.
With the Cavs having brought home a championship and the Indians currently in first place, the Browns must be feeling the pressure to at least make a decent showing this season. To do that this young team, which includes 17 rookies, will have to gel quickly. Of course, the big question is Robert Griffin III, the former Offensive Rookie of the Year that the Browns signed in the off-season after Washington released him. Griffin didn’t take a single snap last season. The Browns have built lots of incentives into his contract, so if he performs, both he and the team will benefit. Expect him to start when the Browns kickoff the season against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 11.
The Browns support a network of Browns Backer clubs throughout the country, and New York is home to several, making it easy to find a Dawg Pound no matter where you live in the city. In Manhattan, there’s the Browns Backers of New York City, who have been meeting at Manny’s on Second since 2001. Downtown, there’s the Union Square Browns Backers, who have secured a private room at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and who get special deals on wings and beer. In Brooklyn, there’s the Brooklyn Browns Backers, who are in their third year as a club and gather in the back room at the Park Slope Ale House.
While the Browns finished in last place in the AFC North, their southern rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, were on top last year. Failing to make the playoffs after a Wild Card game loss to the Steelers, the team is going to be hungry this year. When it comes to watching the Cincinnati Bengals in New York, there’s pretty much one place to go: Phebe’s Tavern and Grill. The East Village bar shows only the Bengals games, serves Skyline chili, and plays the Cincy fight song after each touchdown. However, Phebe’s may be a little quieter for the season opener as the Bengals will be in town on September 11 to play the Jets.