Friday, November 17, 2006

A Tale of Two Rivalries

As far as Cleveland's favorite college and pro football rivalries go, it's the best of times and the worst of times. While the nation's attention is riveted on tomorrow's Ohio State v. Michigan game, the Browns and Steelers rivalry exists only in the minds of die-hard Cleveland fans. For everybody else, the Browns v. Steelers game isn't so much the renewal of a rivalry as the latest in a string of Road Runner cartoons, with the Browns seemingly destined to forever play the role of Wile E. Coyote.

In order to have a rivalry, you've actually got to be competitive every now and again. Unfortunately, "competitive" isn't a word I'd use to describe the Browns games against the Steelers in recent years. Somehow, words like "embarrassing" and "humiliating" seem to fit much better. The Steelers own a 13-3 record against the Browns since 1999, including the January 2003 playoff collapse that etched another scar into the psyche of Cleveland fans. The Browns haven't beaten Pittsburgh at home since 2000. Is it any wonder that Hines Ward calls Cleveland Browns Stadium Pittsburgh's home away from home?

All anyone needs to know about the futility of the new Browns is encapsulated in the fact that the Steelers welcomed them back to the NFL in 1999 with a 43-0 massacre, and that by last Christmas Eve, the Browns had improved so vastly that the Steelers were only able to eek out a 41-0 victory. That was the merriest Christmas ever, wasn't it, Browns fans?

Now of course, we're hearing that this year's version of the Browns gets it when it comes to the Steelers. Some of the Browns have been pretty vocal this week, most notably Braylon Edwards, who promises the Steelers that the Browns are coming after them. Whatever. Sorry Braylon, but I'm not impressed, and neither are any other Browns fans. See, when it comes to Pittsburgh, we don't think "getting it" means out-talking the Steelers in the locker room. It means out-fighting, out-hitting and out-playing the Steelers on the football field.

When we see you do that, we'll believe that you get it.

No comments: