When DePaul student Seth Pae posted an ad to Craigslist declaring the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback job was officially open Oct. 13, he figured it would be nothing but a silly joke.
It became much more, and for a weekend Pae was something of a local celebrity.
“I think the coolest part was that I wasn’t trying to get famous,” Pae said. “I made the ad on Craigslist, and shared the link on Facebook with a few Browns fan friends. Fox Sorts Ohio found the ad and made a story, then it exploded from there. It was cool watching this whole thing escalate.”
Pae’s clever ad got national coverage. It was picked up by nearly every major sports news outlet, including ESPN.
“The first contact I had was from Fox 8 News Cleveland. ESPN contacted me later in the day,” he said.
Pae has been a Browns fan for a very long time and his frustration bubbled over after Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a head-scratching underhanded interception in a 31-17 loss to the Detroit Lions Oct. 13. The interception was another failure in a long line of them for the Browns.
“Worst football play I’ve ever seen. He even went and tried an underhand flip the next week,” Pae said. “Hard to watch.”
Browns fans like Pae have every reason in the world to feel annoyed. Cleveland has made finding a decent starting quarterback look like rocket science. The Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 but came back to Cleveland in 1999 and since then, they’ve started a mind-boggling 20 different quarterbacks, none of whom have had a decent season save for Derek Anderson in 2007.
The ad took on a life of its own, more than Pae could have ever imagined.
“It was overwhelming,” he said, “but in a good way. I had 20 or 30 notifications on Facebook every time I checked. I got tons of emails, and people at my dad’s work were talking about it.”
Pae went on numerous TV and radio stations and gave interviews to personalities across the country. It was the wildest day of his life, he said.
“I had a midterm and an orchestra concert that night. It was a crazy day,” he said. Pae is in DePaul’s music school and said that all of his friends in the orchestra took notice.
The ad, of course, was just a joke, but it was the ultimate example of a fan going to any length possible to make a point. Cleveland is the home of sports disappointment with the Browns, Indians, and Cavaliers all having sordid histories. Pae described being a Browns fan in three words: “Heartbreak and hope.”
Still, he was happy about getting exposure and didn’t regret posting the ad at all.
“It’s cool having tens of thousands of people know who you are, and think something you did was hilarious. I got tons of friend requests, and it was on over 200 websites. It was a fun experience,” Pae said.
And for a short time, he was a celebrity student. But now that his 15 minutes are up, all Pae really wants is a decent quarterback.