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.