Friday, September 18, 2009

Here we go Brownies?

Ok. So down to business. No more failed experiments trying to write about other things. I write about the Browns. No more sugarcoating.

Despite my lack of talking about the game here, I was giddy with excitement for the start of a new Browns season. For the first time in 8 years, I, Girl out of Cleveland, am Girl in Cleveland (at least temporarily, oh dear lord, I hope only temporarily). And if I have to be back in Cleveland, I can't think of a better time than on the cusp of a long, cold, gray winter. And sadly, I'm not even kidding, because in Cleveland, that means I'm here for my favorite season.... BROWNS SEASON!!!!

The tailgate was planned. We stayed at a friend's downtown so we could be at the muni lot bright and early. I even made "Here We Go Brownies" (brownies which I attempted to spell out "here we go Brownies" on in mini m&m's... you couldn't really tell what they said, but we knew... it was the thought that counts, and they tasted amazing in our 9am beer buzz).

If you have never walked through the muni lot at 8am on game day, you are truly missing out. I usually tailgate in the Pit, but the pilgrimage through the muni lot is something every Browns fan must experience. As a displaced Browns fan who has been living in NYC the past 3 years, the most Browns fans I'm used to seeing in one place is the upstairs of the UES Blondie's (miss you NYC Browns backers!!!). The muni lot is Blondies on the grandest of scales. But just like Blondie's, there's a camaraderie, and that's what I love most about Clevelanders. Anyone wearing brown and orange is instantly a friend. People high fiving you as you walk past, joining in on a loud round of barking, sharing the plentiful amounts of food and beer that they have brought for the pre-game festivities, we're truly one big Cleveland family. An admittedly dysfunctional family, but a family none-the-less. It sounds cheesy, but that's part of what I love most about being a Cleveland fan.

Anyway, moving on. Thanks to solid 4+ hours of tailgating, I was definitely sprited by the time kickoff rolled around. Those with tickets to the game headed into the stadium, and those of us without headed to the nearest establishment with a TV to watch the opening drive. As we moved the ball down the field, my excitement continued to grow. Until the field goal team came out and we settled for 3 when we should have had 7. Why do I have deja vu when I type that phrase? Oh yea, because I found myself saying that EVERY FREAKING GAME LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! While most people were happy we got points on the board, I was ready to throw my half full bottle of tasty hops and barley across the bar. No! No! and NO! again.

This was not the foot I wanted to start off on. TOUCHDOWNS. The key to winning football games is SCORING TOUCHDOWNS. I know what you are thinking, its the first drive of regular season, too early to get this heated. Well I say screw you! As I stated previously, I have decided that I hate Mangini until he proves himself otherwise. While in the eyes of the law, you are innocent until proven guilty, as a Browns coach, you are the devil until proven otherwise. I love my Browns win or lose, so as a coach, you become my scapegoat. Hey Mangini, despite what Romeo may have told you on his way out, here in Cleveland we prefer 7 points to 3.

Having put some points on the board, my motley crew and I decided to move on to a more lively establishment. We hurried along, and repositioned ourselves at a more festive venue filled with like minded fans. We shook our heads and consoled each other as our meager lead became a tie, and then as Mr. Peterson showed us he meant business and the Vikings took the lead.

Then we got a tease of the Edwards of past. An awesome catch, and in the endzone? AND. THE. CROWD. WENT. WILD. Until, in typical Browns fashion, our TD was overturned and we again SETTLED FOR 3 FREAKING POINTS. Don't get me wrong. I love Phil Dawson. Phil Dawson for president. But I almost cringe when I see him head out onto the field, especially when we're close enough to a touchdown to taste it. And I think I might start to have the same reaction when I see the Cribbs formation, whatever it is we're calling it. Because if something doesn't work once... let's try it again!

While I may start to cringe when I see Cribbs on offense, I will never tire of seeing him razzle dazzle on special teams, especially when that allows us to take the lead heading into the half. This time the entire bar does explode. Celebrations and barking all around.

I'd like to think as the clock expired for the half that that's where the game ended. I like these new Browns, I would say. Mr. Mangini, while you do not have my 100% approval rating yet, you are one step closer to not being the devil, I would say. The city of Cleveland would continue in a happy buzz, and I would have a smile on my face as I began my week.

Sadly, this was not the case, as our boys were still in preseason mode. They forgot that the second half actually counts now. The starters need to come back out and play like the did in the first half, and not sit around on the bench and watch the backups and soon-to-be cuts do their thing.

Hey guys, WAKE UP. This isn't preseason. This isn't 2008. This is 2009 REGULAR SEASON FOOTBALL. We play football. For 4 full quarters. We continue to score. And not just those field goal things we let the guy who wears the number 4 kick. We score TOUCHDOWNS. And not just the ones we the guy who wears number 16 run halfway across the field after the other team kicks to us, or the ones we count on our defense to steal from the other team. That guy who likes to appear in pictures without his shirt on? Yea, that one, the one that Romeo didn't know his name? Yea, that guy. We let him throw the ball, and hope that the guy who likes to drop balls decides to hold onto them. Occasionally, we let some of the other guys out there with them take the ball and run with it. We do this while the rest of the people on the field get in the way of guys wearing different colored jerseys. That's how we win football games. And we do this before the final minutes of the game, where it's clearly a last ditch effort just to save face. Let's get a little crazy next week and actually try this. Ok?

I am not going to even try and discuss details of the second half. At this point I had probably had as many beers for the day as the Browns has scored points. Somewhere in the fourth quarter, as I was counting out how many points we needed to win on my fingers, I concluded that it was mathematically impossible for us to win even if we were a Superbowl Champion team playing a pee wee football team, and turned my attention back to said beers. You've got to numb the pain somehow. Lucky for me I had an entire bar filled with a support group and shoulders to cry on.

I will say, I saw some improvements over last year. No matter how insignificant to the outcome of the game, an offense touchdown is a step in the right direction. For part of the game at least, it looked like we actually were playing smart football. Our D made some key plays. This is not going to be a Cinderella season, but it's not going to be the train wreck last year was. Going into Denver this week, assuming we play football for 4 quarters, we could produce a W. I'm confident about that. So while week 1 left me disappointed, it does not leave me without hope.

Here we go Brownies?

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