When I think of when the Browns will be good, this is FIRST thing I dream of.
There’s no secret I don’t like Steelers fans. That’s not to say I haven’t met a fair share of them, and come away with mutual respect. I have. But over the past 16 years, I have also met far too many fake Steelers fans. Those from here, who because of the colors, or because of the winning, probably a bit of both, have become “dyed in the wool” Steelers fans.
This has really become an epidemic over the past five years. It starts with a player that most NFL fans seem to like (Hines Ward, Troy Polumalu) then it gets to the team shop, where this fake Steelers fan can find a vast array of gear that for whatever reason to them, seem to be appropriate for any occasion: Wedding, Funeral, High School graduation, the day you get out of jail, the next day when you go back to jail, when you win the 50/50 at the Elks, whatever. It’s half the reason I like Browns colors and gear so much: It’s worn for one reason, and one reason only. I’ve never seen a Joe Thomas jersey at a Bar Mitzvah.
Yep, just a bleep-eating grinning Hines Ward, and some pajama pants can make you the hardest of hardcore Steelers fan. After that, you can do the Ancestry.com lineage of your fandom. That’s usually the most entertaining.
“My brother’s butcher’s father’s neighbor got a flat tire on the way through Butler County. He had to buy a tire from a guy wearing a Steelers hat back in 1974, so you see, I am definitely a Steelers fan.” The Steelers are the St. Patrick’s Day of fan bases. EVERYONE can draw a way to be from there, some way, some how.
Not all of this is their fault. The Browns have been really bad since 1999. A person who isn’t the biggest football or Browns fan coming up, has seen what the Browns have done to their family members and friends. Why would they want to join that? The bandwagon is for winners. For these folks, to jump in with the Browns lot is like a guy walking by Andy Dufresne in the creek, and deciding to crawl the other way through the pipe into Shawshank.
AGAIN, THIS ISN’T FOR ACTUAL STEELERS FANS FROM WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA.
But, This has bothered Browns for a long time. The questions they get for being a Browns fan. The answers the bandwagon gives for being a Steelers fan. A real Steelers fan though, doesn’t have to answer or care about those questions or the fakes. They were on the bandwagon back in the 80’s, and just like Cavs fans from way back, they’re too busy enjoying success to care about the credentials of those who just hopped on.
It’s these fans that end up polluting the stadium Sunday. It’s these fans why the very first thing I dream of when the Browns are finally competitive, isn’t the playoffs, but the first step towards it: A packed house filled with Browns fans, watching the Browns beat their chief rival in a pivotal matchup.
This is corny, but over the last few years, in the early morning on gameday, I’ve looked over the field, and imagined what it’ll be like. It’s harder some Sundays than others, I’ll admit.
The Steelers come into this game against the ropes. Some of their fans who call [my national show] on Sunday nights have wondered if this is the beginning of the end of Mike Tomlin’s reign. Ben Roethlisberger himself has been abrasive in the media when talking about the team’s situation. Dare we wonder if the time of Steelers dominance could be closing again?
I don’t know. Roethlisberger is still one of the league’s best and I’ve thought about their demise too often over the last five years. It very well could be the beginning of the end in Pittsburgh, or just another blip in the road before they go on another winning streak that will embolden that fan base again. Who knows? I shouldn’t be worried about them.
I have my own team to worry about. 0-10 with about a thousand different quarterbacks. Trying to stave off draft talk in November. I’m just trying to get one win in 2016 so this season is forgettable and not history making, and we can go into the off-season and talk to the Browns fan base about how this team takes the next step in a long building process.
But for now we’ll take our lumps. If you’re a Browns fan going to the game on Sunday, God Bless You. I hope you have a good a time as you possibly can, and here’s hoping the Browns can somehow pull off an upset, so you can see the fakes, and the real ones, waddle back in their pajama pants and faded Heath Miller jerseys.
Me though, I’m out.
Dallas and New England I can deal with. But I don’t know if I can bring myself to look in those stands and see that black and yellow takeover in a year like this one. I’m going to have to sit this one out. Head home after the tail gate to watch the game. Then think about what it will be like when that stadium is full with Browns fans again for this game.
They’ll do it someday. Even by accident the Browns will compete again. Hopefully sooner than later for the fans. Maybe with this group in charge. With this quarterback under center. With this coach on the sideline. Who knows? That’s for another column. But a guy can dream.