Last night, in a surprise reversal of fortune (all was juuuust fine when I went to bed in the second), the Rams defeated my beloved Browns to secure a playoff berth and deny one to Cleveland.
What everyone must understand about the Browns is they are always the handmaidens to destiny. In fact, that goes for all Cleveland teams. Consider the following:
Cleveland Cavaliers, 1989. “The Shot.” Craig Ehlo quixotically tries to play aggressive D against a not yet superhuman Michael Jordan in a playoffs-deciding game. Jordan gets angry, and murders the Cavs, propelling the Bulls to the playoffs. The Bulls go on to win their first of many, many championships. The Cavs begin their long slide into tepid mediocrity.
Cleveland Browns: the Cardiac Kids versus the Steel Curtain, 1970s. Who won? In fact, who won it ALL, FOUR EFFING TIMES? Who gets their likenesses on Iron City beer cans every year? Who’s dirtier than a pig farm and half as pretty? You frickin’ guess.
Cleveland Browns and Bernie Kosar (a): The Drive, 1986. Denver Broncos QB John Elway (“Horseface”) takes the ball 95 yards for a TD, forcing the 1986 AFC title game into overtime. The Denver D orchestrate a quick turnover and Horseface orchestrates a quick field goal, thus making his name as one of the great ones. Great assholes, that is.
Cleveland Browns and Bernie Kosar (b): The Fumble, 1987. Actually two fumbles. In the AFC title game(sound familiar?) Kevin Mack fumbles early in a rematch with the Broncos. The resulting loss of TD results in a browns-down-by-7 scenario later in the game. With less than two minutes to play, the Browns threaten to tie the game at 38. Kosar’s handoff to Ernest Byner on the draw play results in a goal-line fumble, recovered by Denver. Denver wins, again. The Browns never again field a team worth speaking of, and eight years later are dissolved. Meanwhile, Horseface goes on to a Hall of Fame career.
Cleveland Indians: The Great Disappointment, 1999. After a five-decade World Series drought, the Indians make it to game seven, inning eleven, against the expansion Marlins. A tiring Chuck Nagy throws a sleeper to rookie shortstop Edgar Renteria, who drops one to short center thus scoring the winning run for Florida. The Indians never again threaten to make the World Series, their run of quality teams eclipsed by the rise of the Yankee Machine and an uptick in the fortunes of the Red Sox.
So, there you have it. If it’s down to the clutch, and a Cleveland opponent is in a position to make the playoffs, win the playoffs, or become legend, always bet against Cleveland.