Nothing Rhymes with Orange

The Shotgun Shogun again mixes a long memory and short snaps in his latest column. The Shogun tilts at high-rise windmills and makes a vow to never forget.<BR><BR><I>Opinions expressed by fan commentators may not neccessarily reflect those of Bernie Kosar or BerniesInsiders.com</I>

He just sat there on the stoop.  He had soulless eyes, a biblical beard and wore a camouflage jacket.  Clearly a refugee from some war, probably Nam, he greeted me every day with a, "hey Dempsey."  With mumbling that sounded conspicuously like the subway I boarded twice a day, he told me I looked like Jack Dempsey.  I don't think I look anything like Jack Dempsey.  I guess there are worse things to be called from a guy who looked like a human booby trap.  He could have called me Scott, as in Hamilton.  Then, I would be in a pickle.  We had something in common.  No, not a charm bracelet.  We were both unfettered of the responsibilities of gainful employment.  He sat on the stoop.  I went to my mailbox and pretended to have a job.  From this tiny metal box, I collected long and loving letters from Mom.  I had that, a television, some Fiddle Faddle and a Browns-Jets playoff game to numb the reality. 

 

***

 

Pain, to the accomplished Browns fan, is like driftwood.  It floats in and out, the ebb and flow of battery acid memory.  Games are one thing.  They end and, much like a conveyor belt switched on, life begins again.  You hop in your car, adjust your head and prep for Monday morning.  The cool feel of plastic Zen.  This all changed when it was announced that the most storied team in NFL history was floating upstream to dock with the crabcakes.  Hurling invectives towards Modell worked as a salve.  What was worse was the question lobbed, grenade-like, my way by the casual sports fan:  Are you rooting for the Ravens?  Bad enough that your organs had to be puréed by the silence of Sunday, but then this disgrace.  Am I pulling for the Ravens?  Is there a wood chipper in the house?

 

                                                            ***

 

Steel gates on the window, a wisp of sunlight sneaking through the maze of abandoned buildings, I watched the last two quarters (one in OT) of the 1986 Browns-Jets from underneath the blood red table in my (Architectural Digest would scoff at the title) "living room."  Call me a sentimental old fool, but it seemed as if Mark Moseley, the straight ahead Spartan of a kicker, had been reincarnated and come to Cleveland to kick the winning field that Don Cockcroft never did.  He moved like and looked ready for a rocking chair.  Outplayed, the Browns stole one.  Upstairs, the stoop pigeon was battling his overweight and greasy roommate.

My cathartic yelps meshed with their full-scale brawl.  I nodded to the cockroaches and took a victory stroll around the reservoir in Central Park.

 

                                                            ***

 

At the cavern of satellites, I met this sharp fellow named Gary.  His recollections were a laundry line of Ryan, Brown, Hickerson and that dizzy Pixie affixed to Browns memorabilia.  We became fast friends and watched countless contests together.  In '95, as if foreseeing the exile, we traveled out, wife in tow, to watch a Browns-Giants affair.  They were awful.  I threatened to walk.  My wife said she didn't purchase this Holy march to the Lake Erie Mecca only to have me to sullenly skip out.  So, we sat frozen to our end zone upper deck slabs.  The next year, snow and little else filled those slabs.  The Browns were the Ravens.  Our telltale hearts were broken.  Without flinching, Gary said he would never watch the Ravens.  To his credit, he didn't.  I still could not believe that the Browns were now a ghostly artifact, a team somehow lost in the attic.  It seemed as if Browns nations were refugees with reclining chairs and interest.  Think of it as a Twilight Zone episode where you cautiously and curiously drive past an accident only to look in the window and see your own face.  I flipped to look at the first quarter of the first Raven game and then quietly resigned.  It made me sick.  It made me furious.

 

                                                            ***

 

Long before the days of clicks and e-mail, you had to be scavenger to find work.  There was the dark painstaking procession of typing letters, licking envelopes -- along with the occasional wound -- and making follow-up calls.  It was I versus the skyscrapers.  Day in and out, the cold towers steel and glass would whip my sorry, privileged butt.  On the week of the AFC Championship, I sneered at the 9 to 5ers.  I was working up a good frothy frenzy for those other orange vagabonds.  Planets or shakras aligned or not, I felt that team was destined to go to the Super Bowl.  There would be no Red Right 88.

 

There would be no free skate in the end zone.  Somewhere, lurking in the cupboard of my psyche, I felt it (a victory) was going to happen simply because of my current macabre state.  It couldn't get any lower, I reasoned.  My friend Paul was a pure bred Giant fan.  Tall, shrewd, with the personality of a decaying pineapple, Paul had a suggestion; he invited me to watch the games at his abode.  Uncontrollably euphoric, I made a fateful error in judgement.  I agreed.  He was attending Brooklyn Law School.  From the subway stop, it was a good thirty-minute gallop to his apartment.  There could have been a gang of four or five there.  I just remember these Giants fans watching me writhe in perpetual agony throughout the game.  I watched the game.  They watched me.  To their credit, as good fans are wont to do, they didn't udder a peep.  That was respect.  Or perhaps a sobering fear of reprisal.

 

                                                            ***

 

If you recall the great kitsch of Godzilla films, there was a giant furry moth called, well, Mothra, what else?  Mothra would only appear if the natives brought forth this box which contained two inch-high twins; they would sing this goofy-pitched ditty and up would spring the cloth-chewing, web-spinning do-gooder insect.  Long story short, it didn't take long before every Brown booster realized that the team was kaput and nothing could be done about it.  Our owner betrayed us.  The league buried its head.  Mothra wasn't coming to cover Baltimore in a paralyzing silken spray.  We were in the web.  Stuck.  To this day, it riles me up to think of Ozzie Newsome lighting up a stogie for Art on their 18-wheel cushy getaway to crowtown.  Sadly, I will never forgive him.  Yes, I fully comprehend the Constitution and the delicate constraints of a capitalist society.  Hey, I licked a lot of envelopes and stamps.  Nevertheless, my affection for the turncoat is nevermore.  He is a Raven, a most foul fowl.  Evermore.   I didn't root for the Ravens.  The closest simulation to that treachery came in my junior year at college.  A girl I had fallen for, and dated for nearly year, dumped me and went out with a fraternity brother of mine.  When I asked what I thought of them, I replied "I don't."  Zeus (not the born again Raven) had a gut-busting laugh at the expense of Browns fans at the Billick Bowl.  Justice derailed.  The pigs in a blanket tasted sour.  As clock dripped to zero that day, I turned off the set before Art reached the podium.  My wife gave me a hug.  I went to bed.  The nation ate crow.

 

***

 

The instant those potato stick arms of Brian Brennan snatched the wounded duck, I knew several things.  He was alone in man coverage.  And that man was crumbling, spinning like a top to the frozen ground.  Shock absorbers ignited, I leaped to the ceiling and proclaimed a collection of words, which have not been spoken since – "We are going to the Super Bowl."  Of course, this was before that #7 became #7.  To me, he was merely a pest with giant incisors.  To aid his advancement, Marty went to a prevent that was akin to synchronized drowning. Butch Davis knows something about this as well.  Denver scored and the room was still.  Never has there been a collection of calls that perplexed me more than what followed in overtime.  With good field position and the ball, Marge Schottenheimer called three straight running plays, the last being a witless counter play to Herman Fontenot.  I stood up.  I knew it was over.  I have never seen a response from Schottenheimer as to why he did this.  It was as if the he was terrified to seize victory.

Rich Karlis' field goal looked wide left.  It didn't matter.  The crowd in front of me parted.  I grabbed my coat and walked that death march to the subway.  Head down, I stared at my feet moving mechanically against broken cement.  There is a part of me that never got over that.  Paul didn't call me for two weeks.  He knew.

 

***

Short snaps:

  • Did you happen to catch the gaudy Junior Seau "last time around the block" San Diego press conference a few weeks ago?  It's so comforting and therapeutic to see a player refer to himself in the 8th person.  Careful children, this is what happens when you drink your own bath water.
     
  • Helmet jokes aside, Dwayne Rudd leaves for the big ship with the big cannons.  For so many I've talked with, that play is an effigy of the nouveau, trash-talkin, chest-thumpin look-at-me badass attitude that pollutes professional sports.  There, play unfolding, is Rudd (Nero with helmet instead of fiddle) back to the play screaming at the clouds.  Au revoir.
     
  • Earl Holmes signs with the Lions.  They also signed Wali Rainer.  You want playing time – you got playing time.  Is Dick Ambrose next?  
     
  • Remember, when watching the draft, Joe Theisman replaces the teleprompter with handpicked mirrors.  That's why he sports that psycho smile.  Narcissus with a few shiny rings.
     
  • I'm one of those goobers who thinks that June 1st   -- more than April 26th -- will determine how this team fares in 2003.
     
  • If we draft Witten in the first round, I'll paint a picture of Hines Ward smiling on my living room floor.
     
  • I'm just waiting for that Iraqi minister of information to say there are no coalition troops in Baghdad and have some Lt. tap him on the shoulder during a broadcast. 

 


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