After back-to-back wins against the Steelers and Raiders, the Cleveland Browns are 2-0 against the 1970s. The Shag Carpet Killers are flying high and expecting big things against a sad and sinking San Diego Chargers club that has yet to win a game. In fact, Marty Schottenheimer's club hasn't tasted victory since December 1st, 2002, when it squeaked past Denver. The last time the Chargers won a game by more than a touchdown? September 22nd, 2002, against the oh-so-lowly Cardinals.
With a pathetic 0-9 record stretching back to last season, the Chargers look to be an utter cakewalk. Except for one thing: The Browns' offensive line is a wreck. Knee injuries have sidelined both outstanding rookie center Jeff Faine and veteran left guard Shaun O'Hara. The injuries force flailing second-year center/guard Melvin Fowler, Jr., and the recently signed Chad Beasley onto the firing line.
The sudden shuffling forces Butch Davis to adopt an inspired game plan. During the week, the Browns quietly sign a host of free agents, including actors Vern Troyer (Mini-Me) and Warwick Davis (Willow, Wicket the Ewok), former Olympic gymnastics gold medalists Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug, and legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker (who regrettably dies 24 hours later). It doesn't take Browns players long to figure out what is going on.
Flashback to August 19, 1951. The St. Louis baseball Browns are playing the Detroit Tigers, and Browns owner Bill Veeck is looking for a little something to spice up the proceedings. With lead-off hitter Frank Saucier ailing and unable to swing a bat, Veeck brings in Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter. Signed the week before, Gaedel is the smallest player in MLB history at 3' 7" and 65 pounds. With a strike zone about the width of my thumb, Gaedel drew four straight balls and walked right into the sports history books.
|Eddie Gaedel also provided the pre-game entertainment for the fans, bursting out of a giant cake before the game.|
Half a century later, the ‘Browns' are at it again. The team conducts a week of super-secret practices inside the tightly guarded Berea facility. Black helicopters patrol the skies while guard dogs roam the surrounding premises. Local newspapers report that three kites and a high flying model rocket are shot down by Browns security personnel toting Russian-made SA-14 shoulder-fired surface to air missiles.
Suspicions are raised when Butch Davis suddenly cancels his weekly press conference, citing a stomach virus. But Davis' evil plan becomes clear just thirty minutes before game time, when the Browns issue a press release. The team has hired former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi as a defensive assistant to Dave Campo.
The cloak of secrecy may have fooled the media and the Chargers brain trust, but the fans and the politically-active dwarf community know better. The traditional Muni Lot tailgates are dotted with impromptu dwarf tossing contests. The winning team rigs a giant slingshot that fires a dwarf so high into the air that a 737 on approach to Hopkins is forced to take evasive action.
By the time the game rolls around, fans in the Dawg Pound are hurling dwarves, midgets, children, and dogs into the autumn air. Six fans are injured when a dwarf lands on an unsuspecting crowd. Three reporters are sent to the hospital by an errant beagle that crashes through the window of the press box.
Mayor Campbell, sensing (yet another) clear and present threat to the community, immediately moves to ban all dwarves, midgets, and children under the age of eight from city functions. Police are seen rounding up entire kindergarten classes and dragging away circus performers, until the ACLU steps in with the first sensible court challenge in its history. The ban spurs a massive Million Midget March on Cleveland City Hall, blocking streets and bringing traffic to a grinding halt. Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich—himself just 4' 10" tall—uses the march as a platform to announce his candidacy for president.
On the field, Dave Campo unleashes the dwarf toss blitz to brilliant effect. On the first play from scrimmage, Vern Troyer and Kerri Strugg are hurled over the Chargers line by Chaun Thompson and Andra Davis. The diminutive pair strike Drew Brees just as he sets to pass, forcing a fumble that Courtney Brown scoops up and returns 20 yards for a score.
Troyer gives the prohibited throat-slash gesture after leveling Drew Brees. Vern would draw a 15-yard penalty for his antics
Unfortunately, offensive line troubles keep the pesky Chargers in the game. The Browns lead 13-0 midway through the third quarter when Butch Davis installs a few halftime adjustments. On third and 25 at their own 35 yard line, Courtney Brown and Vern Troyer line up behind Tim Couch in a pro set. Couch drops back as Brown grabs Troyer by the belt and tosses high into the air toward the Charger end zone. A moment later Couch lets fire a rainbow pass that Troyer nabs in mid-air as he sails 65 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.
The crowd goes wild as Troyer lands with a sickening thud just in-bounds. The officials huddle for nearly five minutes at the goal line, trying to determine if the play runs afoul of the rule prohibiting other players from assisting a runner except by blocking for him. A minute later, the head umpire announces a touchdown. Troyer was not in possession of the ball when Brown hurled him.
The Dawg Pound erupts into a midget-tossing frenzy. Children and tiny adults are sent flying onto the field, in a bizarre replay of the "cloud of ferrets" incident in Pittsburgh two weeks before. National Guard troops quickly rush in, trading small arms fire with a group of militant midgets near the 20 yard line. A marauding gang of dwarves takes over the west end concession stand, handing out free beer to anyone under six feet tall.
Butch Davis smiles wryly. His club, despite missing 60% of the offensive line, enjoys a 20 point lead with just 15 minutes left to play. The gap widens quickly in the fourth when a thoroughly harassed Brees, dodging a hail of flying gymnasts and midget actors, tosses a pair of late interceptions to Anthony Henry.
Chargers' wideout and resident freak show David Boston is incensed. Despite Boston's impressive biceps, Brees just can't seem to get him the ball. Boston stalks the sidelines in the fourth quarter, taking injections, chewing on supplements, and screaming at offensive coaches. But when Boston's personal trainer gets caught up in Marty Schottenheimer's headset cord, the head coach has—finally—had enough.
Schottenheimer fires Boston on the spot and orders his personal trainer duct taped to a training table. When assistant coaches search the trainer's bags, they are shocked at what they find. Inside are not nutritional supplements and legal medications, but rather what seem to be syringes of silicon-based lubricants, colored dermal patches, a collection of tiny circuit boards, and a solder gun.
For Schottenheimer and his staff, the truth behind Boston's remarkable physique becomes immediately clear. David Boston isn't human at all. He's actually a T1000-class Terminator. The revelation forces the league to step in and announce that the Chargers will forfeit all the games Boston played in this season. Of course, given that the Chargers haven't won a game all year, the action has no impact on the standings.
|David Boston, at a post game press conference, denies allegations that he ever took human growth hormones or steroid-based supplements.|
No score. Chargers forfeit.
And that's the way I see it. GMD