August 26, 2014

Tebow, Demaryius, & Dirk: Cleveland Heroes

Its January. The first weekend of NFL Playoff football is upon us. The weather is cold (well, seasonably warm here in Cleveland, but you catch my drift). There is excitement in the air in those cities where the teams have qualified to play in the postseason. The problem here in Cleveland is that once again, another January goes by where the Browns and their fans are watching from home.

Want a depressing stat? Ben Roethlisberger has 10 career playoff wins as QB of the Steelers since he was drafted in 2004 (five picks after the Browns took Kellen Winslow II – who needed Big Ben when we had Jeff Garcia coming in!). The Browns have only APPEARED in one playoff game since 1995. Naturally in that one, the Browns lost after blowing a 33-21 fourth quarter lead to Tommy Maddox and the Steelers.

Yesterday afternoon as my son and I were watching the Steelers/Broncos playoff game, it hit me  - these are as close to playoff games as we have these days in Cleveland. Its so sad. I was very invested in this one, much more than I expected to be. Why you ask? Well of course you know the answer – I hate the Steelers.

Its odd. During the regular season, Pittsburgh doesn’t bother me. Hard to have a rivalry when one team can’t beat the other. In fact, I have the utmost respect for them as an organization. Ive said many times in this space that the Rooney family runs a model franchise. What’s to dislike about Mike Tomlin? Sure, James Harrison is despicable and Big Ben, is well, Big Ben, but every single year, they win and reload. Its what the Browns aspire to be.

As the Steelers were making their comeback in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger really turned up his game. His game-tying TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery was an unbelievable play that you just had to tip your cap to. Then on the replay, I see Roethlisberger pointing to the sky. I literally wanted to throw my remote into the TV at him. Is there a bigger phony in sports? Why is he pointing to the sky? Is he thanking God that he isn’t in jail for rape? The whole thing made me sick. In the end, he would get his.

The overtime period began with the Broncos receiving the ball, and it was Tim Tebow time. Unless you were living on another planet yesterday or this morning, you know what happened next.

For many Browns fans, these are the moments that get us through a winter of discontent. I’d rather have this lasting memory than the Mike Holmgren “I’m smarter than you, I know what I’m doing postseason press conference from last week. I go back to the fact that this is sad – games like yesterday’s are as close to a playoff feel as we get these days. We are forced to revel in the misery of other teams. And this isn’t the first time we’ve had this feeling in the past eight months.

Clevelanders felt great this past June as well when they got their first championship Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks took down the Miami Heat and the three ego-maniacs in the NBA Finals.

 Watching Dirk take over in Game Six In Miami (in front of those “real fans” in White shirts) was a thing of beauty. Watching LeBron shrink during the fourth quarter yet again was just icing on the cake. Walking around Cleveland the next day, you would have thought something great happened for our city. Dirk was a hero in this town.

Now here we are on January 9th, and our newest hero is not Colt McCoy or Josh Cribbs or Peyton Hillis, it’s Tim Tebow. I fully expect to see people Tebow-ing in downtown Cleveland today.

Maybe one of these years we won’t be relegated to cheering great moments from other teams to make ourselves feel better. But today, it feels pretty nice knowing that Roethlisberger, Harrison, and the rest of the Steelers won as many playoff games this year as our team did. That would be ZERO.

 (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) 

  • PNR

    “seasonably warm here in Cleveland” – don’t you mean UNseasonably “warm”?

  • http://twitter.com/csobol chris sobolewski

    Well done.

    I’ve noticed that I’ve taken a habit lately of looking up videos of Sype, Kosar, and Metcalf. How sad is it that we need to look back so far to see relevance in football? We haven’t even been a [legit] potential spoiler in a long time.

    The cavs look to be building to be contenders, but it seems we’re at least 2 seasons off from that.

    The Indian’s best hope is mediocrity as long as baseball is a sport where you can buy wins.

    The Browns haven’t been relevant for nearly 30 years, and God only knows if this regime will finally be the one that fixes us, or if we’re just going to waste away 5 years under Holmgren.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but . . . in defense of Ben Roethlisberger, the proverbial “word” is that he has actually turned his life around, to include a genuine (re)conversion of faith.  I hesitate to call anyone a phony (read: “hypocrite”), when the basic tenet of the Christian faith that I share is that we are all phonies and hypocrites, standing on our own merits.  Of course, Roethlisberger has brought this all on himself – including his choice to publicly display a religous sentiment - and the criticism is, I guess, valid; but I (try to) withhold judgment as to whether, based on someone’s past acts, an expression of current faith is either genuine or phony.  Otherwise, it would be the simplest thing in the world for others to say the same about me.  (And yes, maybe he is thankful that he is not in jail and still able to play football for a living.  He certainly should be.) 

    Having said that . . . I still can’t stand the guy (what can I say, I’m a hypocrite), and was so glad to see him defeated and the legions of filthy towel-flingers silenced.  I find greater delight in the game last night as a Browns fan, however, not just because the Steelers lost, but also because the Browns undeniably did much to beat them up over the past 4 weeks, which I think played a huge role in their inability to play like the classic Steelers team that we are used to seeing.  The Browns deserve a least a little bit of tangible credit for the Broncos’ win.    

  • Anonymous

    i’d like to nominate Ike Taylor for Cleveland hero as well.  If it weren’t for his coverage and inability to tackle on that fateful play, then not only may Pittsburgh still be in the playoffs, but the Browns might have a lower draft pick (Pitt picks after ATL, Denver would have picked before ATL)

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the major tone of your post, but would add that some type of penance also needs to be done to atone for his past wrong-doings.  Perhaps he has done so, but I have not seen any publicly shown (not that it has to be public, but I have nothing else to go on).

  • Anonymous

    Definitely fair.  When you lead a public life, with all of your successes and failures out in the open, some public expression of penance  – or at least repentance - (though not necessarily a requirement) is appropriate for those significant failures. 

  • JM

    People can’t understand why Browns fans are so happy. It’s because the Steelers are going home too.

  • Cjcable

    The Steelers QB points to the sky to honor his late mother. FYI

  • swig

    Ugh, I can’t agree.  The Broncos are the team that kept us out of the super bowl (well, that and years of suckatude).  They are right up there with the Ravens, Patriots, and Steelers.  At least the NFC is good now…

  • Anonymous

    why Patriots?  I was sort of happy to see Bill get a 2nd chance after the raw deal he got here (Art forcing him to deal with the aftermath of the announcement of the Move and then letting his contract expire – stay classy Art)

  • swig

    Mostly the counter.  He didn’t do anything here, then moves on to become “THE GREATEST COACH EVER”.

    Now Marty, there’s a guy who I was happy to root for after moving on…

  • Anonymous

    fair enough.

    and Marty may be on record as having gotten the most raw deals of any HC.  all he did was win (in the regular season – but, cmon, it’s impressive the job he’s done in each spot)

  • Anonymous

    This was probably the first and only time I will root for Tebow, and unless Quinn somehow starts playing, the only time I will root for the Broncos.
    That said, well done, boys. 

  • Tron

    This is unfortunately why my fiance can’t ever get into being a cleveland fan. She didn’t grow up there like I did, and when she sees me rooting for certain teams to lose she thinks all cleveland sports is is being negative and rooting to hate people. It’s really sad but true, I can’t for the days when I can not worry about whatever team losing in the playoffs and only care about the Browns winning. 

  • St. McDuck

    Go Broncos! (although New England will steamroll them next weekend, but for now…)

  • Anonymous

    I root against the steelers because of their fans. I live near pittsburgh and today there was much griping. It must be tough to go through an entire fourth full year without a city championship.

    They are spoiled and they are rude. Instead of being greatful and appreciative for the teams they root for, they use it as some sort of character builder for themselves. As if they have something to do with the success. Serves them right.

    Plus, most of them think football was invented in 1975 and waving a towel above your head was the greatest “invention” since the lightbulb. Oh, and the NFL is out to get them and any survey which does not rank their team or their fans as #1 is rigged.

  • Anonymous

    I live a few hours east of you, and went into my local bar last night right after the game to pick up some wings.  The bartender is a Bengals fan, and we were laughing about how the Steelers got Tebowed – amidst a whole bunch of very sad-looking badwagon yinzers in their black and yellow gear, with tears in their “lager.”  He said it got very, very quiet very, very quickly when that pass was completed.  I couldn’t think of a better, happier place for me to be at that moment – except maybe in Pittsburgh itself.   

  • Anonymous

    it was pretty happy here in TX.  i was at dinner with my family for the 4th quarter + OT (the whole OT :) ).  Lots of Cowboys fans watching the game and the one saving grace for Dallas fans is that they hate Pitt too!

  • Roosevelt

    I honor his late mother by not treating women poorly.