Baltimore v. Cleveland a case of Evil v. Good

Reccomended previews at Mistake by the Lake Sports & NFL Gridiron Gab

Ever since the Browns returned in 1999, this has been the matchup that I have felt has been a simple case of Good vs. Evil. The innocent and perfect Cleveland Browns against the sinister and dark Baltimore Ravens. The lovable losers against the bad boys of the NFL. Nice Jamir Miller vs. nasty Peter Boulware. Good ol’ boy Timmy Couch vs. shithead former Clevelander who left town Elvis Grbac. Newcomer Butch Davis vs. brash and cocky Brian Billick. Ray Lewis and the felons against the burnt orange helmets who got sucker punched by Art Modell on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the entire world to see.
The best moment in modern Browns history was “Run William! (Green) Run!”, while the second best was sweeping these Ravens back in 2001 coming off their world championship season, when it seemed it could not be done. Another great moment was Tim Couch driving 90 yards in the waning seconds in week 16 of 2002 to beat the Ravens in Baltimore and end their season while also catapaulting us into the playoffs.
The Ravens are any number of Marilyn Manson’s cruel songs. The Browns are a harmonius classic like Mellencamp’s Key West Intermezzo.
We’ve taken the hard road since our time back. There’s no doubt about it. It’s quite possible that this Baltimore franchise is my most hated in any league and any sport because of the immense amounts of success they’ve sustained since they took our franchise. I’m not bitter because they plucked what was ours when I was a kid; I’m bitter because they didn’t pay the price to reach the promised land heights like we have. About the time Ray Lewis became recognizable around the world for being a murderer, he all the sudden became the best linebacker in football. He was Superbowl MVP. They won ugly, they won with defense, they walked into Oakland and beat the original bad boys of football at their own game on the way to Lombardi’s trophy. They knocked QB’s out of ballgames. Tony Siragusa single handedly destroyed Rich Gannon’s breastbone with one crushing hit.
The night the Ravens defeated the Giants easily in Superbowl XXXV, I sat and reflected. I talked with my friends (fellow Browns fans) for a long time about the football gods and what the future would hold for the franchise I held so dearly close to my heart. I asked them if how could something like this happen? Something that seemed such an injustice. Would I ever know what it was like to wake up on Superbowl Sunday with my team playing for all the marbles? Would the Browns ever have a team that other cities and fans truly hated like those nasty Ravens? It was like a car wreck you desperately wanted to turn your head away from but you couldn’t stop staring. I watched all the post game interviews and became increasingly unhappy as I watched Art Modell look like an old senial fuck on national television. I watched Billick celebrate with Ray and Jamal Lewis and Trent Dilfer talk about the biggest win of his career. I heard more about Brandon Stokely than I ever cared to know. Finally when it was all over, I limped down into my room in the basement in the late hours of the night and read the Illustrated History of the Cleveland Browns from cover to cover. I looked at the different warriors of Browns past. I read about the times in which the team from Cleveland had been so close, but had failed to get to the big game by flukes, curses, jinxes. Things that just don’t happen. Things that can’t happen. I wondered how a team with so much history like the Browns ends up getting their team hijacked out from under them and then a few short years later that new franchise takes a bunch of our old players and wins it all. It hurt badly, it still does. Every time the Ravens win a ballgame, it still hurts. I feel like God kills a kitten every time they’re victorious, at least one.
They’re field turf and corporate, we’re good old grass and mud mixture.
So how could this be? How do the Ravens continually hit on things correctly that allow them to get the upper-hand over us and a lot of the rest of the league? How does Ozzie Newsome sleep at night (other than his nice paycheck) knowing he’s a daily contributor to breaking the fans hearts into pieces that adored him for so long?
So what is next? Bernie Kosar is offered a front office job with the Browns only to turn it down and end up becoming Kyle Boller’s Quarterbacks coach? How about Brady Quinn having a devastating injury down the road and Cleveland’s own Troy Smith becoming a superstar. Or how about Cleveland actually being the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC in a few years with homefield throughout the postseason, Baltimore slipping in with the #5 or #6 seed. Troy Smith and the Ravens come into Cleveland for the AFC Championship game and beat Brady Quinn and the Browns to keep them out of the Superbowl again? I won’t be surprised. It seems like that is what destiny holds. If you were to write a tragic novel about a sports franchise, you couldn’t dream up a more unbelievable story than what’s happened to Cleveland in terms of bad Baltimore putting the screws to them and rubbing salt in the wound.
It’s good vs. evil, and that’s why we must battle to beat Baltimore every time we play them. You get the feeling that Cleveland is not just playing for a win. They’re playing for a cause. They’re playing for a city. They’re playing for all the fans that hurt that day in November 1995 when Baltimore rejoiced getting a football team once again. Throw the records out the window. This is about something much more deep-rooted.
It’s Baltimore vs. Cleveland. It’s good vs. evil.

Random thought about Quinn/Crennel

Anyone starting to think the reason Romeo doesn’t want to start Brady Quinn is to buy himself another year as the head coach of the Browns?

I think so.

I am starting to think that Romeo believes if he can start Derek Anderson all season, then the organization won’t get rid of him because they won’t want to change up head coaches and systems on Brady, thus buying Crennel another year that he can walk his walrus ass up and down our sideline. I really am starting to buy into this. I’m i’m wrong, tell me why. It’s at least a good thought.

Football links worthy of being linked

Here’s anything that caught my eye this friday…..

The genius that IS Frank Caliendo. His official website has YOUtube of Caliendo as George W. Bush and his weekly picks on FOX. The fact that he made my drive to work this morning so much easier and better lets him earn the first link I hand out, as if he needs it.

In preparation for the Packers-Vikings game this weekend, Pacivist Viking has the Top 3 moments in sports anouncers gushing over Brett Favre.

Brian Griese is Bill Lumberg. Anytime I can direct someone to a reference of Bill Lumberg, the sweaty, coffee cup holding, Jennifer Aniston fucking boss in Office Space, I’m going to have to do it. Nice work by The Sports Hernia there.

More Brett Favre stuff, this a bit more interesting. The Big Lead tells us that an unauthorized Favre book is coming out detailing is drug and alcohol abuse as well as infidelities with a Packers employee. Like Big Lead, when/if this book comes out I will buy it the first day.

The New York Post has a nice read on Plaxico Burress becoming Big Blue’s go to guy. He’s having a monster season, and he’s playing this sunday night. I’ll be watching.

No surprise here, but Art Modell is the most hated owner in sports. This brought to our attention by our friends at Halftime Adjustments.

I’ve been saying for weeks now that Buckeyes redshirt freshman Antonio Henton is the second coming of Troy Smith, only better. The only thing is, Troy never tried to buy a prostitute, even in his troubled younger days. The Buckeye Blog sheds some more light on the situation in a good read.

Another Jerry Jones/Wade Phillips parody from Kissing Suzy Kolber. Jerry Jones really reminds me of of Yosemite Sam.

5 Pick Friday: Big Ern Mccracken Edition

Undoubetly, there are a few things I am mega-passionate about. Once those things have worked there way into being one of my passions, I treasure them and hold them forever. I never let them go and I stop at nothing to work them and even to the point of going overboard and driving someone else nuts talking about it. One would be the Cleveland Browns. Another would be this blog and writing about football. Honey, if you’re reading from home, yes–my fiance is in there as well. The movie Casino along with other valued Peschi and De Niro films. What I’m getting at is I have a passion for the character Big Ern Mccracken, from the classic slapstick Kingpin.

Big Ern makes the movie. He is likable to me and my picks. His unrelenting confidence and ability to perform in the face of pressure are truly what makes him great. It’s been an easy start to the season for picks, and last week was no different as I went 4-2 and nailed my upset of the New York Giants over the Washington Redskins on the road.

“Big Ern, a million dollars.What are you going to do with it?”

“I don’t know. All I know is, I finally got enough money…that I can buy my way out of anything.”

Alright, now it’s time for the picks for this week. An easy pick would be to pick against my Browns, but I’m not going to do that. I pick the big games, and since we’re only involved in the obscure ones, I won’t be betting on the team from Cleveland, nor against them. More on why I don’t ever stake anything to Cleveland teams later.

The Denver Broncos travel to Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning and the Colts. The RCA Dome has been a house of horrors for Mike Shanahan in years past, remember those playoff games there? I think Cutler is a good Quarterback and the Broncos are going to go on a run to hurt some people at some point this season, but it doesn’t start here. Peyton Manning and the Colts are the pick as they will roll to 4-0.

The Seattle Seahawks head to San Francisco for a divisional NFC West tilt. The ‘Hawks are coming off a nice win at home over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers got blown out by the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Last season the 49ers beat the Seahawks twice, nearly taking the final playoff spot from Seattle. I’m telling you, Mike Nolan knows how to beat Mike Holmgren’s bunch. Give me the San Francisco 49ers at home this week in a big win and a big game for Alex Smith.

Tampa Bay travels to Carolina, where the winner of this game will be 3-1 and have a leg up on being the division champion. Tampa Bay is off to such a surprising start. Carolina reminded me of a team that would really rebound and they need to get hot soon or John Fox is not going to last there. David Carr entered for the incumbent Jake Delhomme last week. It was foreshadowing as Delhomme will be on his way out by year’s end. This week though, no matter who starts at QB (look for Delhomme to get the nod) the Carolina Panthers will get the win at home. What can I say, I like home teams in this league.

Another game with some intrigue would have to be the New York Giants taking on the Philadelphia Eagles, in the Land of the Sopranos in Jersey. All week I’ve been talking about the Giants coming up with that big win last week against the Redskins. Afterall, I called it. Instead of picking the Chargers/Chiefs game and taking a gimme pick, I’m going to pick this sunday night matchup between the Eagles and Giants. Donovan Mcnabb had a statement game last week. Eli Manning stood up and got the come back victory in Washington. Something has to give, as the loser of this game will be headed for the basement of the NFC East. This is a huge game. It pains me to say it, but the Philadelphia Eagles are my pick going into New York and really hurting the Giants and Tom Coughlin—who has more lives than a cat. Philly is the pick. I’d gladly give up the loss though if the Giants can sqeak one out.

The Pittsburgh Steelers head to Arizona. Arizona has got to start winning some games if they’re going to be a wildcard like I said. That run isn’t starting yet. It begins after this week. It has to. For this week, I like the Pittsburgh Steelers to get another victory and improve to 4-0 over Arizona in the desert.

Upset Special:
Well, last week I nailed my upset special. This is what really makes a guy’s weekly picks. Being able to have the intuition to make that one gut check pick that no one else sees or believes. I see it this week and I saw it coming early on. You’ve been waiting for a collapse of Green Bay? You get to see it this week. That young team goes into a place where traditionally they’re struggled as well as Brett Favre. The Minnesota Vikings will upset the Packers and Brett Favre. Green Bay isn’t going to be able to run against Minnesota and eventually the Packers lack of a run game will catch up to them, because Favre can’t play safe every week.

Last Week: 4-2
Overall Season Record: 14-5 (.736)

Frank Caliendo made my morning

I was driving to my new place of employment this morning when I was pleasantly surprised at 7:00 this morning. Low and behold, on the Bob and Tom Radio Show, the guest was none other than Frank Caliendo. He had me laughing out loud as hard as I could on my drive.

To the tune of My Boyfriend’s Back, in a Madden voice:

“My Brett Favre’s back
And your defense is in trouble….
Hey now! Hey Now!
My Brett Favre’s Back!”

He really does sound more like Madden than Madden does. All I kept thinking about was how I wish I could just have Caliendo all to myself, to make him do John Madden impressions all day long. Can you imagine what it’s like to go out and drink a few beers with this guy and have him say different shit in that Madden voice? It’s nothing short of amazing.

The Day Modell Moved the Browns to Baltimore

Fuckin’ Grampa Simpson

I remember exactly where I was when it happened. I was in 5th grade sitting in my classroom, Ms. Rhodes’ room. Ms. Rhodes was a huge Browns fan and had pictures of her and Bernies Kosar and other Browns players from training camp sitting all around the room. The date was November 6th, 1995. It was 4 days before my 13th birthday. It was a season that began with so much promise. I actually was busy being a fanboy of the Browns that year and the San Francisco 49ers led by my then hero Steve Young. That season began with the Browns kicking the 49ers ass on Monday Night Football in Cleveland and Ms. Rhodes hung the article on the blackboard of Micheal Dean Perry sacking Young, highlighting the victory.
Ms. Rhodes was at her desk crying. She said it was about the Browns and I take it she had heard on her lunch break or something the terrible news. I remember it had such an impact that even in my elementary school here in Columbus, it was anounced over the loud speaker into every classroom.
“The Cleveland Browns have been sold and will be moving to Baltimore,” said my principle, Mr. Sipek.
Ms. Rhodes continued to cry, weep, and sob for the rest of the day. I remember being upset, but not being able to notice the full ramifications until sometime later, not until the Browns had actually returned and I was becoming a man. It’s like when a United States President dies or when a natural disaster strikes and impacts thousands, as a kid you are so lost in your own little world you don’t realize how huge it really is.
A couple of my family members were pretty upset about it. My uncle frank, a diehard Browns fan from day 1, was actually the man who got me started being into the NFL and MLB. He just couldn’t believe it. For me, I was distracted during those empty years of Browns absence by the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Green Bay Packers. I remember Uncle Frank even saying he was going to adopt Brett Favre and the Packers as his team because ‘they were owned by the fans of the city, and they could never be moved like the Browns were.’
I went home and my parents had the news on as we ate our dinner. The lead story was about the Browns sale to Baltimore, and their old owner Art Modell’s dirty and greedy decision to do so. The anchor that was running the story was very upset as well, but added in closing: “Don’t be too upset Browns fans. Those 3 years will pass quicker than you think.”
The Browns got their new team back in 1999, keeping the records, colors, and tradition that made the Browns so loved helped ease some of the pain, although there are still many deep in the heart of Northeastern Ohio that say it is not the same with the ‘new Browns’. I don’t buy that, the only thing that isn’t the same is the fact we haven’t been able maintain any type of success and we can’t win at home and have the same type of homefield advantage that made old Cleveland Municipal Stadium a place that opponents dreaded to come into and play in on sundays.
This is the reason I hate the Ravens. Not because of the colors, or Ray Lewis, or Brian fuckin’ Billick who resembles a Raven in his looks. It’s because they took our team and went and won a championship in 2000 so their Grampa Simpson senial owner could get on a podium with Lombardi’s trophy and make a fool out of himself in front of millions on national television.

Well, fuck Art ‘Grampa Simpson’ Modell. He’s an ass. Forever, because of him, I will hate his band of purple bandits called the Ravens, more affectionately known as the Ratbirds.

Might not be a soldier, but he is a warrior

I don’t know if it is because I’m listening to The Cure as I write this or because I think Kellen Winslow II is an inspiring warrior that has proven so much in such a short time as a Cleveland Brown, but I feel inclined to write about it a little bit on this evening.

Playing on a team as poor and snake bitten as the Cleveland Browns have been in the time he has been employed as a tight end there keeps him from getting the proper recognition that he should outside the city by the lake, but he deserves it all and then some.

In his 6 catch-80 yard performance last weekend in Oakland, Winslow separated/dislocated his shoulder making three catches on the final drive to put Cleveland in position to win the ballgame. As he limped off the field before the final failed field goal attempt, I heard people in the sports bar I was at yelling “he is a fucking warrior!” This guy is as tough as they come.

Exhibited today once again:

Coach Romeo Crennel sat Winslow out of Wednesday’s practice and it’s not known if he’ll be ready to face the Ravens on Sunday. Winslow suffered the injury when he landed on his shoulder following a 23-yard reception on the Browns’ final drive in Oakland.

Winslow made an appearance in the locker room Wednesday but declined to talk to the media. On his way out, he was asked if he’ll play. “Of course I am,” he said.

Said Braylon Edwards: “You think he’d miss a game?”

He’ll be out there sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, doing his thing. He’ll be that one player on our team that makes the opposition hurt just a bit. Like Ray Lewis and so many Steelers players have done over the years when they come to town, he’s that guy in which the opposition hates to see line up against them. You’re getting Winslow, Baltimore. It might be Winslow at 60, 70, or 80%; but that is a lot better than most guys in the league’s 100%.