Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mangini's Browns: Fourth down and Forty

WHAT CAN THIS diehard Steelers fan from Western Pennsylvania say about the Cleveland Browns that won't be irresponsibly offensive to their fans who have already decided that the team is offensive? I've been thinking about it for some time, but have always retreated from the role of an interloper in what is, after all, the worst stink on the lake since some overly sincere, if misguided, folks failed to recall Dennis Kucinich from his huge desk in City Hall. Fortunately for him, the enmity wasn't unanimous and he seems to be living reasonably well as a congressman and quadrennial presidential candidate. The same fate doesn't appear to be imminent for the Browns.

It's been tough on me, too, as friends from around the country assume that anyone living this close to Cleveland owes it to the city to root for the Browns. I've tried to point out their error but they simply conclude that I am in denial. It was that way, too, when we lived in Columbus and the neighbors reacted in shock when I told them I was planning to mow the lawn on the afternoons when the Buckeyes were pummeling their opponents. It wasn't enough to explain that I happened to be an alum of another Big 10 school, the University of Illinois, whose football team is rarely anything to brag about even though the school does have a very nice campus.

But I was emboldened to speak out about the Browns after hearing their soon- to- retire running back , Jamal Lewis, complain that Coach Mangini was driving the players "too hard". That may be, although it's not NFL friendly to criticize a coach in public. I think it would be more deferential to the boss to observe that receivers are paid to catch passes on those occasions when the quarterback succeeds in throwing the ball in their general direction. But being a good sport myself, unlike Mark Antony, I'm not here to bury Mangini nor praise him.

But I do want to give some moral support to the overwrought Browns fans who hate the Steelers for winning so much. What they don't know is that Steeler fans such as yours truly suffer desperately through an entire winning season, game by game, with the playoffs and Super Bowl at stake. It can be most unpleasant to see a single fumble or interception that could be an immediate signal that this one will be a defeat that you will long mourn. On game day when the team isn't on network TV, we watch the clock, trash the NY Times crossword, absently nibble lunch without having a clue to what's on the plate and head for a sports bar to watch our team for a couple of hours of sweaty palms.

To Browns fans I say: when you are pulling for a loser it isn't nearly as agonizing as it is when your team is a winner. Trust me. I speak from experience. I'm also a Pirates fan, if you know what I mean.


chien lunatique said...

Enough Grumpy! Your inane comments about the Browns are a becoming very tiresome.

Grumpy Abe said...

Gee, back to the dog pound with you, Mad Dog! Compared with what the true Browns fans and sportswriters are screaming about, I thought I was quite generously restrained.

chien lunatique said...

It's not the comments, it is the pleasure you derive from telling us how bad the Browns are. You need not remind us of something we are already aware of.

Mencken said...

I recall a time when dogs were DAWGs and as a Steeler fan in enemy territory, nobody heard more smack from Browns fans than I did. That a complete stranger will come up to me and scream "YOU SUCK!" in my face for wearing Steeler bling still puzzles me. It's as if I'm wearing a Steeler logo on a burnoose.

A Browns win over the Steelers on Sunday used to mean that answering the office phone on Monday morning meant hearing grown men WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! at full volume, laughing maniacally before slamming the phone down. And those were the classy calls.

Was it tiresome? Naw, it was fun because ultimately the Browns and their fans are more bark than bite. That the Browns have become The Cleveland Tail Chasers keeps Mondays pretty damned quiet around here. It's a shame, but silence is golden.... and black.

Grumpy Abe said...

May I? Mad Dog, you know as well as I do that it is dangerous to assume "awarenesss" in the brain of any football fan. particularly those who protested loudly when Rush Limbaugh was denied an investment in the Rams, a team that watches most games from the bleachers. .But if your feelings are hurt by my pained pleasure, what must you have felt in the moments after last year's Super Bowl?

chien lunatique said...

Oh! I see it's pay back for past rude behavior. Talk about tiresome!