Monday, September 11, 2006

The face of Cleveland sports

It's time.

This year, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cleveland Browns football. (And the 42nd anniversary of winning no championships in anything in this city, but who's counting?) We celebrate the 60th anniversary of a franchise that brought us legends such as Paul Brown, Jim Brown, Lou Groza, Otto Graham and Tim Couch. We have 60 years of memories such as Ozzie Newsome's pass-catching streak, the Kardiac Kids, the heyday of the Dawg Pound, and the domination of the old AAFC.

And we celebrate 60 years of the logoless helmet. For 60 years the Browns have worn a plain brown helmet. Nothing else needed. Nothing else wanted.

Until now.

It is time to advocate for the Browns to put a logo on their helmets. And that logo should be a silhouette of Braylon Edwards.

Who else symbolizes the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland sports as succinctly as Braylon Edwards, especially the Braylon Edwards we saw in Sunday's season-opening 19-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints? He's our top draft pick from two years ago, a guy from whom we have seen some big things and expect bigger things. And that's what we saw on the first play of the game, when he broke behind the Saints defense as if he had the Invisible Woman's superpowers and caught a 74-yard touchdown pass to start the season.

Except he didn't. Except that Kevin Shaffer held Saints defender Will Smith -- yes, the Will Smith from Ohio State -- the play was nullified, and Braylon Edwards got no closer to the end zone that Big Dawg did the rest of the day. Then on the Browns last offensive play, Charlie Frye hit Braylon in the numbers with a pass. Except that he really DID hit Braylon in the numbers with a pass. The ball bounced into the air and safety Josh Bullocks grabbed it for an interception to seal the loss.

So there it is. Braylon started with an exciting touchdown catch that wasn't, and ended it with a ball bouncing off his hands and into that great maw of Cleveland sports history where dreams go to die. No one was more fired up than Braylon was when the players exited the tunnel onto the Cleveland Browns Stadium field Sunday. He leaped, he pumped his fist, he smacked his teammates' helmets. He acted as excited as any average Joe fan would have been had he suddenly been asked to suit up and start at wide receiver for the Browns. All this from someone who suffered a major knee injury toward the end of last season and put his full heart and effort into making a return to the field because he was THAT excited and THAT convinced that this year would be the year.

Sound familiar?

Heck, let's make a motion that Braylon Edwards becomes the new official mascot for all Cleveland teams. Get rid of Chief Wahoo and put a grinning Braylon Edwards there. No more swashbuckling swords for the Cavs; let's get Braylon and his SUV up there. The City of Cleveland doesn't have a logo -- let's make it a picture of Braylon Edwards! On "his" MySpace page "Braylon" even says "he" hates the Steelers!

We like to call ourselves the Comeback City, which is kind of like calling ourselves Super Bowl champions. Just because we say it doesn't make it true. But aren't we really the Braylon City?

Think about it. Work hard for the next season. Get yourself pumped up. Be as excited as anyone. Love the atmosphere, drink it in, and know, just KNOW, that you won't be stopped. Then catch a 74-yard touchdown pass ON THE FIRST PLAY.

Then watch as someone pulls the carpet out from under you, just like someone's been pulling the carpet out from under us Cleveland fans for the past four decades. Then watch when you're put back on the carpet in crunch time, only to suffer from a cruel bounce of the ball that breaks the heart of Braylon Edwards and everyone Cleveland Browns fan.

It's time to embrace our fate. We are all Braylon Edwards. We are all merely God's plaything.


Bernie said...

In a way, you've inspired my new blog...while you blame the almighty, I just whine to him! It could be because were from Cleveland, or God hates river pollution, or he despises Chief Wahoo, or were just being patient for a large payoff in the near future (NBA championships, a World Series, 10 wins for the Browns and a playoff berth)...but there's a lot of work needed for the Brownies...

Eric said...

this article is nothing short of an exquisite piece of art!

Well done!