SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Tom Seipel isn’t afraid to admit that he’s a “little obsessed” with football. Even though he lives far away from his beloved Cleveland Browns, the Savannah native feels ingrained in the fanbase with the sheer number of podcasts, radio shows and message board conversations he consumes.
“It becomes a little like a family,” Seipel explained. It’s why, after interacting with fellow Browns fans online for years, Seipel felt comfortable sharing updates when his health started declining.
“Deep down inside somewhere there was depression. Sad this was finally happening,” Seipel said. “I think I was looking for someone to show sympathy. A ‘hey man, I hope you are fighting and we are thinking of you’- type attitude.”
Two weeks ago, doctors informed Seipel that his kidney cancer, a disease he’s been battling for three years, had worsened and they were putting him in hospice. Seipel’s post on the Browns’ Reddit page somehow made its way to the hands of Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, who sent Seipel an encouraging personalized video in which the starting quarterback called him a “warrior” for everything he’s been through.
“That blew my mind,” Seipel said, remembering the moment he watched the video. “That right there, you could stop any interview or story and it would be a great ending.”
Little did Seipel know, there was one more surprise in store.
A group of Browns fans, led by Dawgs of War podcast co-host Rawley Davis, had raised over $13,000 to send Seipel and his dad to Cleveland for the Browns’ regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not only was Seipel on hand to see the Cleveland Browns clinch their first playoff berth in 18 years, he did so in a suite with Emily Mayfield, Baker’s wife.
“I was zone, zoned into the game and it’s the last game I’ll probably ever see [in person],” Seipel explained. “I definitely wasn’t going to miss any of it.”
As if the Browns’ historic win wasn’t sweet enough, Baker Mayfield Facetimed him and met him in the parking lot after the game.
“Entertainment in our lives can distract us from pain, from what’s going on, and sometimes it can also magnify the joys that we have,” Seipel added. “I feel like there’s been a bigger boost of energy or motivation to keep fighting now.”
Surrounded by family, fans, and the Mayfields, Seipel realized his dying wish wasn’t to see a Browns win in person one more time. Instead, it was to celebrate and recognize the people who have helped him fight this disease.
“Whether I’m sick or not, just being able to let them know how much that meant to me. Just loving on each other is why I’m still here.”
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