OK, Steelers fans. This Sunday we must join forces.
You remember us, Browns fans? We used to be big rivals. Yeah, it was a pretty cool thing back in the day. Two Rust Belt cities. Strong ethic heritages. Even stronger work ethics. Most of all, we both loved football and hated each other's teams.
The Browns beat the Steelers. The Steelers beat the Browns. It was back-and-forth. It was fun.
Then, 1995 happened and the Browns were gone for three years.
The rivalry has never returned. Since 1999, the relationship developed into the Browns becoming that annoying little brother who tried real hard to one-up you, but you were always bigger, stronger …. and better. Every once in a great while the Browns have gotten a leg up. Remember a cold Thursday night in late December? Or an eight-turnover slop fest that led to a six-point win? But that is rare.
Let's face it, the Steelers fans only look at Browns fans with pity, as the Browns are coming off another double-digit losing season and new coaching hire. That's par for the course in Cleveland.
Yet this season Steelers fans got a taste of what it was like to be a Browns fan. During these playoffs, Steelers fans and Browns fans had to watch as a hated division rival, the Baltimore Ravens, won in the Wild Card round then pulled off the upset over the AFC's top-seeded team, the Denver Broncos.
This Sunday, the Ravens are one game away from advancing to the Super Bowl. All we can do as Steelers fans and Browns fans is sit back and watch. Oh, and root for the New England Patriots, who are led by former Browns head coach Bill Belichick.
Since 1995, the Steelers developed a strong divisional rivalry with the Ravens. When the Browns came back in 1999, they have only been a slight hindrance to both teams. Meanwhile, the Ravens won a Super Bowl. The Steelers won two. It seems each team has traded AFC North titles from year-to-year. Browns fans simply became good friends with Jack Daniels.
Although the hatred for the Patriots and Belichick remains strong with Browns fans, the idea that the Baltimore Ravens will return to the Super Bowl is sickening.
You see, deep down Browns fans have an admiration with the Pittsburgh Steelers football club. If fact, the team's fan bases are quite similar, except the Steelers experience winning and Browns, well, sadness and frustration endures.
Some will never forget the Rooneys were one of two ownership groups who voted against Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore (Buffalo's Ralph Wilson also voted against the move). That doesn't mean when the AFC Championship game was Steelers-Ravens or when the Steelers won the Super Bowl, Browns fans were happy.
No, it sucks.
Browns fans second favorite pastime is rooting against the Steelers. At least when the Steelers win, it is admirable. For us, just looking at that Ravens uniform brings up bad memories and feelings of 1995. Although they may have subsided, they will never go away.
So, join us Steelers fans. Raise your Iron City. We'll grab one of our amazing varieties of Great Lakes Brewing Company beers and let's salute the New England Patriots onto victory.
Because Steelers fans and Browns fans can agree on one thing: The Ravens suck.