Which team should a Browns fan cheer for?
There are three types of sports fans. One is the type that roots for a New York team. Two is the type that despises all things New York and three is the utterly indifferent.
Cleveland is a prime spot for New York hate. It started in the 1940s and 50s when the Indians were often one of the best two teams in baseball, but only won one World Series thanks to the All-Star lineup that was the Yankees. In the following dark ages that followed, the Tribe often seemed a farm club to New York, sending players to the Big Apple while mired in 100-loss seasons.
Call it envy but it just seems easier to win in New York where the big market allows for more spending. If you are from Cleveland and cheer for the Bronx, you get branded a front-runner and traitor. It is why LeBron takes so much grief for his Yankees hat.
To cheer for an outside team because they win all the time? Never. To be a Cleveland sports fan, forget logic, it's all about the heart.
While the NFL and NBA have rules that prevent teams from overspending to an uncompetitive advantage, it is easy to still hate New York teams.
Which makes the upcoming Indianapolis-New York Jets such an anomaly. The script seems to be flipped. On the surface maybe that doesn't seem true. It doesn't get more Midwest than Indianapolis. It doesn't get more wholesome goodness than Peyton Manning. The Colts have long been an organization that does things right. While the Jets, led by their arrogant coach Rex Ryan, like to talk smack.
However there are lots of reasons to hate the Colts. First Indianapolis stole another city's team, which led to the real Browns being stolen by the city they spurned. Second, there is just something wrong about playing football indoors. Third and closer to home, in 2007, the Colts laid down and cost the Browns a shot at the playoffs despite 10 wins, which invalidated any success that may have happened that season. Then this year, the Colts scoffed at history. They refused to even try to go undefeated. In an example of all that is wrong with football today, the Colts let their players go for individual accomplishments but didn't try for history. Even their own fans knew this was wrong and booed them relentlessly.
And in the perfect karmic twist, the team the Colts allowed to live was the New York Jets. The week before Ryan told the media there would be no playoffs for the Jets. But when the Colts and Bengals rolled over, the Jets got new life. With playoff wins over the Bengals and a massive choke job from the Chargers, the Jets now stand in the Colts' path to the Super Bowl.
Another reason to like the Jets this weekend is how they play. All season we have heard how this is the year of the quarterback. Analysts have told us how to win the NFL has changed. The adage was to win a championship, you need to run the ball and stop the run. Now we are told to win you need a quarterback and a vaunted passing game. You don't need to run the ball and you only need enough defense to give your offense a chance to win it.
Well Rex Ryan is Buddy Ryan's son and he is old school. The Jets beat the Chargers and their aerial circus with a rookie quarterback who threw for just 100 yards. How did they do that? By playing defense and running the ball.
So the sports fan in me wants to override the New York bigot in me. Forget about the NY on the helmet and appreciate old school football overcoming new age philosophy.
Wait, what's that you say? If the Jets win then Braylon Edwards gets to play in the Super Bowl.
Crap. Go Colts.
Reprinted from the Morning Journal