Dear Pat Shurmur,
As you're probably just figuring out where the bathrooms in Berea are, this letter is probably premature and a bit unfair. You'll have to forgive me and fans like me who have just watched a football nightmare unfold in front of us for the second time in three years.
Since you've spent your formative coaching years in Philadelphia and St. Louis, let me explain to you what just transpired on a cold January afternoon, once again.
The Steelers and Ravens met in the postseason with a chance to go on to something bigger and better in the playoffs. Two years ago it was for the right to go to the Super Bowl. On Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, it was for a trip to the AFC Championship game.
As we scoured the 'net to see who the Browns might go with for their umpteenth top 10 draft pick since the return, we had to choose who we would like to see move on in the playoffs less. I myself opted to root for the Ravens, but I could certainly have made a strong argument for not seeing the artist formerly known as the Old Browns (The Ravens) hit the AFC Championship Game.
When the Steelers and Ravens meet in the playoffs, fans like me are presented with a choice that sounds a lot like "would you like your right foot broken or your left foot broken? You are getting a broken foot either way, choose where you want the cast."
As you were fighting to win the NFC West on the last Sunday of the season, your new charges were busy getting pounded by the aforementioned Steelers. A familiar scenario that Browns fans have seen play out too many times. With Pittsburgh's victory, they secured the No. 2 seed and the eventual matchup on Jan. 15 that I just knew the football gods would set up to extend the gridiron misery of the Browns faithful.
So, as I realign my temporary fan status to "anybody BUT Pittsburgh," and you assemble your staff, please keep this in mind:
Many fans like myself are hoping that your presence and shared organizational vision with Mr. Holmgren and Mr. Heckert helps us get more playoff appearances with those great orange helmets we love to see take the field and less of what we saw on Jan. 15.
Good luck Mr. Shurmur, we're pulling for you.