For the last four decades, Tim Zifzal has rarely missed a Browns home game.
Every weekend of a home game, Zifzal and his wife, Kim, make the nearly two-and-a-half hour long drive from Smithfield to downtown Cleveland, where they stay Saturday night in the same hotel room at the Marriott Key Center that overlooks FirstEnergy Stadium. On Sunday mornings, they're among the first in line to enter the stadium and head right to their seats in Section 134. The couple has been married for two decades, and prior to tying the knot, Zifzal attended every home game with his father — a tradition they began in 1978 when Zifzal was in high school.
"I love the tradition and everything about it," Zifzal said. "It's our life. It truly is. I've lived a great life. I had a good job, and we lived a good, comfortable life, and the Browns have always been there."
The Zifzal's weekend trips, however, have come to a temporary halt as Kim recovers from surgeries stemming from multiple brain tumor removals. The couple has continued watching games from their home but have missed multiple games in a season for the first time since they began going together in 2001.
The Browns, though, are rewarding him and his wife for their fandom and perseverance as Kim continues her recovery.
Zifzal is the Browns' nominee for the NFL Fan of the Year award, which will be selected among other nominees from each team at the NFL Honors in February 2023. He was surprised with the news while taking what he thought was a standard tour for season-ticket members of CrossCountry Mortgage Campus, and he was also treated with an opportunity to meet head coach Kevin Stefanski. Zifzal will also be given tickets to Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix.
The experience was perfect, but the one piece missing from it was Kim, who Zifzal immediately called after he learned he had won.
"She's been doing extremely well," Zifzal said. "I would love for her to be here (in the building) today. I called her and told her, and she was so happy. It made her day, too. We live and die by the Browns. The love we have for them is a whole other level."
Zifzal was also bestowed the award for the extra effort he's taken to show his fandom. He finds a way to wear some form of Browns clothing every day, whether it be a T-shirt, a hat or a jersey. When he worked for a home health care company and had to dress in more formal attire, he'd always wear a Browns pin.
He's also made sure others who aren't as fortunate as him can own Browns gear, too. Whenever he sees Browns clothing on a clearance rack at a store, he'll purchase the whole inventory and look to donate it all to local charities.
"In my house now, there's probably 35-40 T-shirts," he said. "I've done that my whole life. Whatever is left over, I just absorb and I try to give them to Browns fans around here. I always have."
His main tradition, though, has always been attending home games, and soon enough, he and his wife will be able to return to it — Kim is recovering well from her procedure and is expecting to make the trips up again with Zifzal soon.
When she does, they'll look to start a new streak of attending home games and continue the four-decade long tradition of the Zifzal family.
"She's been through a lot, but I know she's going to be better and we're going to be back at the stadium," he said. "We can't wait."