Time to splain the site's name. . .
Most Browns' fans should be able to identify my reference immediately (for those who don't). What started as a promising season turned downhill quickly. That game represents, for me, what it means to be a Browns fan.
Like 2003 (two promising QB's, a developing Defense, and the ultimate spread offense), 2004 (the chosen one in KWII, a second-year developing defense, and promising RBs in Suggs and Green), or 2005 (a solid QB in Dilfer, an exemplary WR corps in Edwards, Bryant, and Northcutt, a tandem of RBs, and a make lemonade-from-lemon Defensive coach in Crennel), we were all set up to see the progress from the prior season to build into something bigger and better.
But things happened.
QBs failed to live up to even meager expecations.
A revamped O-line couldn't gell before they got hurt.
Defensive players proved that they only fulfilled roles while leaving gaps in other areas.
Super-stars-in-the-making went down with freak injuries before the could show squat.
In short, the football gods conspired against us.
Now, I'm not one to dwell on injuries. Every team should expect some injuries. But how the Browns have lost too many guys to too many injuries (Verba with a pectoral tear, Winslow with a broken leg and a case of "I'm an idiot on a crotch-rocket", Edwards with a pop in the knee, Jamir Miller with a torn Achilles, Lee Suggs with chronic-high-ankle-sprains, Courtney Brown with chronic-everything). No one can compete with so many injuries.
And everyone should expect some players to not live up to expectations (Jeff Faine turning into a tight-end-wannabe on the Atkins diet, Verbs deciding he's more into chicks and gambling, Robert Griffith forgetting how to tackle, or Trent Dilfer deciding he's Peyton Manning being held back by a Norm Turner offense).
But do we really have to have the refs working against us? I've never seen ref's step infront of passes, except with the Browns when I've seen it twice on third downs. I've never seen refs stop a play after it's started to review the prior play except in Bottlegate. I've never seen a ref put a player on the Injured Reserve except with Orlando Brown being decommisioned with flag to the eye. And most egregiously, I've NEVER seen a ref decide to give the opponent one more try on a trivial play except when Dwayne Rudd's premature celebration gave the ref impetus to give Kansas City one more try to win the game.
So, thats what I've come to expect: The Browns (in particular) and Cleveland (in general) don't catch breaks. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and even the sure things that can't go wrong still end up finding a way to go wrong.
While its always a huge, painful disappointment, it has its plusses. It makes us strong. It builds character. There is nothing in this world quite like a Browns fan. We are the heart of the entire league. We are what other teams fans wish they could be. We pour our hearts into the team, we stick with them through thick and thin. We enjoy December games in blizzards and temps closer to -32 than to +32. We believe in every new QB, and we support every new coach until he more than proves his incompetence.
Right now I work in consulting, which isn't a bad gig if you can get it. But back in the day I worked as a garbage man. Let me tell you, I took more satisfaction in my work as a garbage man than I ever will as a consultant, even if the pay was alot less, because I knew that I EARNED that paycheck. In the same manner, I'm sure it'd be fun to have a team that was constantly in the top ten and was an annual contender. But would it be good for my soul?
Its not because we're gluttons for punishment. Losing is never acceptable. Dwayne Rudd was an idiot. But its good to know that, despite Rudd's helmet toss, and despite every other form of incompence, bad luck, and getting cheated, we still have our Browns, and we WILL make it someday. And when that day comes. . .
. . .well, frankly, I don't know how I would handle that. I've never been in that situation. But I look forward to finding out.