Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Where is Turkey Jones when you need him?

I grew up near West Blvd in Cleveland. Not quite West Park, but not the ghetto either. In fact, it could be the most integrated neighborhood in Cleveland. You have whites, blacks, Asians, Arabs and Hispanics all living next door to one another. It is evident by the variety of ethic restaurants along our stretch of Lorain Road. If you can’t find a specific nationality, you are not looking hard enough.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t raised in an atmosphere of bigotry. At a young age, I learned that Franco Harris was the Anti-Christ and Terry Bradshaw was the spawn of Satan himself.

In the second grade, Scotty McDonough didn’t show up to school one day until after lunch. When I asked him what happened, he said he was on his way to school when some kid just ran up and punched him in the stomach as hard as he could. I was appalled until I learned that Scotty was wearing a Pittspuke raincoat. Then I wondered why the kid didn’t also kick him a few times while he was down.

The six years I lived in that state up North taught me that sports fans outside of Cleveland are different. Mind you this was during the John Cooper years, but the Michigan fans didn’t know who they hated more Ohio State, Michigan State or Notre Dame. The Lions fans didn’t like the Bears, Packer or Vikings, but there was no hate. When I lived in Florida, the weather was too nice to hate anyone. Or to even get that mad when the Dolphins always choked. I take great comfort knowing that I hate Pittspuke and they hate me just as much.

I moved back home when the Browns did. I was stunned to see the prevalence of black and yellow gear everywhere. I was at a bar once and these Pittspukers just walked in sat down and ate from the buffet and no one said a word. What happened to my beloved land of McCarthy-like zeal of hating thy enemy?

I know it doesn’t help that the organization doesn’t get it and that the team just rolls over two and sometimes three times a year and takes their beating from the “Stool” Curtain.

But have we fallen so far that a local bar and radio station will support those (edited by management) by hosting a party for their playoff game.
The Blue Moose in Parma became Pittspuke West on Sunday. If you listen to the Big One, then I figure you are aware of the uproar. Some said go to the bar and take it over wearing Orange and Brown. Others say just let them make money and then never support the bar again. Well, I wouldn’t drink in Parma to begin with so what would that do?

But have we fallen so far, that the enemy can live so freely among us. Reasonable intellect tells you that Pittspuke is far superior to us in almost every way. Their ownership loves their city and would never abandoned it for greener pastures. It has always understood how to function and make money in an ever growing profitable NFL. The last owner said he couldn’t survive in Cleveland despite all the TV money and sellout after sellout. The current owner claims to have lost money despite more TV money and even more sellouts. (How about not hiring the wrong people and then giving them HUGE buy-out packages?) Pittspuke, despite the occasional losing season has had just two coaches in the last 37 years. They never panic. They have built their team on defense and running the ball during that entire time. It is why they win.

Despite all that, I hate them anyway. Being reasonable has nothing to do with being a fan.

That said fix my team before they become my second most hated team. If you read my columns regularly, then you are well aware of my recent disgruntled and passionless disconnect with this team. My dad believes the Browns died in 1995. He steadfastly calls them the “New Browns.” I want to believe again, but from top to bottom the organization has made it so hard.

It is as if they believe they bought a market brand and no matter what they do, people will still buy that brand because it is how we were raised. The organization has not lived up to the legacy. They have been bad caretakers.

So blame the bar, but at the same time blame the organization. Get it right. Be the Browns again. And do it soon. Before all is lost.