On the eve of the Super Bowl, some Browns fans are feeling that urge. It’s easy to understand why.
The Browns have been dreadful since their return in 1999, have not won a playoff game since 1994, and haven’t even played for a Super Bowl since the turn of the decade. And not last decade.
So some fans, which have cheered for orange and brown their whole life, are looking to the east.
They’re looking to a coach who used to play and coach for the Browns. They’re looking to a quarterback who came from Findlay, Ohio and graduated from Miami University.
But most of all, they are looking to a winner.
Many fans will find themselves doing what they swore they’d never do: Cheer for the Steelers in tomorrow’s Super Bowl.
But I have a message for these fans. To quote a song performed by Marvin Gaye and The Band: Don’t Do It.
I understand. I really do. The Steelers look pretty darn appealing right now. Who can’t sympathize with running back Jerome Bettis? Or with rookie free agent Nate Washington, a receiver who graduated from Scott High School in Toledo and played at Tiffin University?
Believe me, I know the temptation is there. Besides, Art Modell has a ring and Bill Belichick is now a football genius. The Steelers’ championship hopes can’t be that irritating.
But remember that no matter who the quarterback is, no matter whom the coach is, the team is still wearing black and yellow.
It is still the Steelers. It’s not only the team of Ben Roethlisberger and Bill Cowher, but also the team of Terry Bradshaw, Chuck Noll, and Joe Greene.
Need more recent examples?
Pittsburgh is the team of Joey Porter, a player so loud and cocky that Mick Jagger would tell him to have some humility. It’s a team of underdogs, yes. But now the Steelers are favorites, and they’re acting like it. Porter went off on Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens for suggesting that, heaven forbid, the Seahawks will win.
Perhaps the Seahawks should just come in expecting to lose. That’s pretty much what they’ve heard since arriving in Detroit. Some have said Porter just needs to find an enemy to play his best.
I can’t find too much fault with that. But it doesn’t make me want to support him much. Not that he cares.
Everyone has nice things to say about Bill Cowher, and yes, he appears to be a great guy. But he’s also the guy who kept throwing late in the Browns’ embarrassing debut in 1999. I remember thinking, as the Browns were trailing by over five touchdowns, that Cowher was attempting to fuel the flames of the rivalry.
Cowher was also laughing on the sidelines of this year’s Browns-Steelers game. With his team way ahead, he challenged a completion in the second half. When it became apparent the play would stand, Cowher had the smile of a cocky giant.
Again, I don’t blame Cowher for these things. He understands the Browns-Steelers rivalry. But that’s why I can’t cheer for him, or his team.
Then there are Steelers fans. The Terrible towel-waving, stadium-invading lot of
them. A Browns fan cannot find sympathy with a group that is so much like them.
I’ll admit that getting behind the Seahawks is not the easiest thing. They play on the West coast, their uniforms look like they were rescued from the Kingdome (I know, brown and orange is beautiful) and most of their players have no connection to the Browns or Ohio. In fact, only two players – Rodney Bailey (Ohio State) and Kelly Herndon (Toledo) – went to school in Ohio.
The best reason to root for the Seahawks is that they are not the Steelers. For me, and most Browns fans, that should be enough.