This season, I’ve repeatedly written things I never imagined I’d write. “The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary is the strength of the defense.” “Stop running the ball and release the Flying Circus.” “Great game by Will.i.am Gay.” “The Chief’s great-granddaughter shows off her pierced nipples.”
Add one more to the pile: I feel sorry for the Cleveland Browns.
I started watching football in the mid-80s. Believe it or not, at that time the Steelers were decidedly mediocre while the Browns were one of the AFC’s elite. No lie, the first playoff game I ever watched was the 1986 AFC Championship game that Cleveland lost when John Elway led his Denver Broncos on what is now known in NFL legend as “The Drive.” The next season, the two teams met again and this time the Browns were driving for a last minute go-ahead score when their running back committed “The Fumble” on the Denver 5 yard line. That was the closest the Browns would ever come to a Super Bowl appearance.
I became an Elway fan back then even though they would go on to get hammered in the Super Bowl. This fandom lasted until the Broncos won yet another AFC Championship game in exciting fashion, defeating my Steelers in 1997. Ironically, much like the Browns were snakebitten by the Broncos, they also made a big contribution to Bill Cowher‘s history of falling short in AFC Championship games.
I wrote a number of pieces on the Site That Shall Not Be Named lamenting the state of the storied Browns-Steelers rivalry. On Thursday, we get our first look at the 2011 Cleveland Browns and, much like the females who populate the Dawg Pound, it ain’t pretty. Their brief resurgence under one-season wonder Derek Anderson is a distant memory as the Browns have reclaimed their spot among the dregs of the league. Great rivalries are borne of competitive games on the biggest stage, something which cannot really be said of the Browns and Steelers for going on a decade now.
The sad state of the Browns is not lost on their fans. A few weeks ago, Cleveland lost 20-10 to the resurgent San Francisco 49ers. A fan called in to a local talk show to opine the team, lacking big name playmakers, should give somebody named Carlton Mitchell more playing time. Mitchell, by the way, has a whopping total of one catch for 9 yards during his entire two year career. And I thought I got some crazy comments on my old blog…
This suggestion sent the show’s host, Tony Rizzo, into a mouth frothing rage. You can listen to or download (right click save-as) his rant by clicking here. There’s no real objectionable language but if you’re at work or school, you might want to jack in your headphones or lower the volume on your computer because he gets pretty loud. In fact, the second best part of this audio is how he starts out mildly offended then his rage slowly builds and builds until it sounds like he’s about to burst like Violet Beauregarde after chewing the blueberry gum.
The best part? “I’m the Cleveland sports fan. I’m the kid with no toys at Christmas, and I’m sick of it! Every Christmas!”