They think no one in Cleveland cares about the Browns-Steelers rivalry anymore. They think that just because our team has stunk for close to a decade, just because Ohio State has become our de facto pro football team (especially with THE Ohio State University beating Michigan in the Greatest Game of All Time© being played this weekend), just because the Steelers have dominated the Browns and are the defending Super Bowl champions, they think that no one cares anymore.
We just don't care about the game anymore.
But remember what your current punter, Chris Gardocki, did, Steeler fans? Back in 2000 he flipped off the Steelers sideline, telling your jawhead coach Bill Cowher and the rest of the Steelers what he thought of them after the Steelers gave Gardocki a few cheapshots. That's your punter telling you what the rest of us here in Cleveland think about Pittspuke.
Oh, sure, we've got plenty of things to distract us. We've got the soon-to-be-national-champion Buckeyes. There's that Cleveland native Troy Smith who's about to win the Heisman Trophy. We've got Lebron and his James Gang (what, they have the best record in the Eastern Conference??). We've got the high school football playoffs. We've got Grey's Anatomy.
It's just hard to get worked up for a game when we put our hearts, our souls, our money, and our time into rooting for a team that never pays us back. (That's you, Browns, by the way!!) It's hard to really care about a team that has won 2, 3, 7, 9, 5, 4, 6, and this year 3 games since it returned from limbo.
But it's never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER hard to get worked up over the Browns-Steelers rivalry. Even Braylon Edwards, who didn't even play in last year's Christmas Eve game won by the Steelers 41-0, knows this.
Just the smell that comes into our city whenever Pittsburgh fans come to watch their team is enough to piss us off for six months. The games? Hey, we've been getting clobbered, but what can you do when God hates your sports teams?
But the rivalry? The rivalry! You can almost hear Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now replacing "horror" with "rivalry" in his famous speech: "It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what rivalry means. Rivalry has a face ... and you must make a friend of rivalry. ... The rivalry ... The rivalry."
And here's the Top 7 moments for the last seven years of Browns vs. Steelers:
7. STEELERS SCREWED
Browns draft bust Courtney Brown records his career-high third sack when he plants Steeler stiff QB on the 6-yard line with 14 seconds to go and the Browns up three. With the Steelers out of time outs, time runs out and the Browns win 23-20. Later in the week, NFL senior director of officiating Jerry Seemen tells the Steelers that the referees should have stopped the clock to spot the ball, which would have most likely given Pittsburgh enough time to try a hurried game-tying field goal. But tough luck, Steelers -- they finish a game behind the Colts for the final playoff spot.
6. COWHER LIES
Bill Cowher needed to lie to his players to fire them up in order to win the first game the Browns played when they returned to the NFL in 1999. Cowher told Browns officials not to introduce the Steelers prior to the game, then told his players the Browns refused to introduce them. He must have known his crummy team would only finish 6-10 that year.
5. FLIPPED OFF
Chris Gardocki flips off Cowher and the Steelers' sideline, giving voice to the feelings of every person in Greater Cleveland.
4. DAWSON KICKS STEELERS IN THE GUT
Even though the Browns sucked, THIS one mattered -- Phil Dawson ran onto the field as the clock wound down, the Browns out of time outs. His 39-yard field goal split the Three Rivers Stadium uprights as time expired, giving the Browns an amazing 16-15 victory over the Steelers just nine games after the Steelers whipped the Browns in their return to the NFL. Apparently Cowher forgot to lie to his players before this game.
3. PORTER EXCUSED
If you can't beat 'em, kick 'em out! That's the tact William Green took with Joey Porter before the game in Cleveland in Nov. 2004. Porter likes to get riled up in warmups, and this time he supposedly spat on William Green. That led to swings, which led to ejections for both players -- a pretty fair trade!
1. GOD HATES CLEVELAND SPORTS RIVALRIES
Not only do the Browns blow a 12-point lead in the final 10 minutes, they do it in a wild-card playoff game against TOMMY FREAKING MADDOX. And you can believe it's not just any old choke job. It took a Dennis Northcutt drop of a pass that would have given the Browns a first down in the final minutes and most likely taken away any chance of a Steeler comeback. Northcutt and Ryan Tucker are the only two Browns starters from that game who remain on the team.
So there you have it. The rivalry still lives, even if this one hasn't provided any Greatest Game of All Time© over the past seven years. You can bet this one will give us yet another highlight, even if God makes it a bad one for the Browns.