Get It Now?

Art Bietz tries to explain Steelers Week to the Cleveland Browns organization... NOTE: The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Bernie Kosar or the staff of, except for that one guy.

It was early in the fourth quarter when the fan ran out onto the field. I doubt that it's coincidental that this is after the beer concessions shut down.

At first, I just thought he was trying to escape the pain. By that point, exiting in handcuffs was the easiest way to leave the Stadium. The escalators were surely clogged by that time with Browns fans fleeing for their lives.

For all his logistical innovation, the fan got ingloriously dumped on his keister by Steelers linebacker James Harrison, using the weak excuse that the guy could have had "anything" on him.

Sure, whatever. He was probably packing a heat-seeking missile. Mr. Harrison seems unfamiliar with the frisking and anal probes which precede getting into a Browns game.  The worst possible thing that Browns fan could have had on him was a paperback book.

Granted, that's probably more frightening to the average Steeler player than a bazooka.

What's worse, the fan was completely unprepared to do anything with his luck in evading security. He didn't even take advantage of his narrow window of opportunity to moon Bill Cowher or perform some other sort of useful function. 

Nope. Our Browns fan merely ran out on to the field, acted kind of stupid, and got tossed onto his ass. Although, admittedly, the episode did serve as a pretty succinct summary of the Browns performance up to that point.

Up in the stands, Steeler fans twirled their little towels - a rare interaction with anything toiletry-related for most of them - and cheered and taunted Browns fans with impunity.

The visiting team, even dropmaster Quincy Morgan, had ample opportunity to preen and pose in front of the Cleveland Browns Stadium seats, which had been vacated by the Browns faithful earlier in the day.

The Steelers laughed and laughed. In our house. With no fear.

- - -

Some people understand what Steelers week is about, and some people don't. Unfortunately, the Browns organization is largely run by people who don't appear to get it. Let's break it down, shall we?

Romeo Crennel Doesn't Get It: You don't give your players days off on Steelers week. If anything you work every day that week, and put tiny hermit crabs in your players' sneakers to constantly pinch toes and ensure a really bad mood by gametime. Two days off on a short week? For the Steelers? What were you thinking?

Randy Lerner Doesn't Get It: The team's owner thinks he does, but he doesn't. Randy, I know your Dad wanted to run a class organization, but you don't have valet service on Steelers week. Maybe you should put those players and their families out in the Muni lot. Make them face Browns fans after the game and explain why ticket prices went up this off-season.

It's hard to be accountable when Jeeves is polishing your Hummer 3 in the Fortress of Solitude. "Yes, Jeeves, we lost this week. Bloody bad luck. Well, I'm off to pick up my check. Cheerio!"

Our players and organization, in the wise words of WWE and XFL impressario Vince McMahon, "need to smell the street". All they get is the smell of perfumed linen.

Myron Cope Gets It. Lew Merletti Doesn't: The Stadium staff will make you turn your T-shirt inside out if it offers, with all truth and candor, some very basic facts about Pittsburgh. And they sure won't let you bring in a big dawg bone if it looks like you could club someone with it.

On the other hand, there's no problem at all with Steeler fans bringing in disease-ridden crusty bathtowels so they can swing them around like bacteria-infected maces. The tradition of Steeler fans flinging around absorbent cloth was started by a weasel-voiced homer of an announcer who hated the Browns. He got it. You don't.

Want to make the stadium safer? Stop those obnoxious blotters of Steelerfan fluids at the door.

Browns Players Don't Get It: Guys, playing the Steelers isn't like going off to Oakland and playing the Raiders. By now, the Raiders are rolling over on their backs because they're hoping you will scratch their tummies. These are the Pittsburgh freaking Steelers. They're coming here to kick your butt. They want to hit you, and hurt you, and humiliate you. If you let them, they will just humiliate you more and hit you harder. They won't let up, and they won't have mercy. The hardest hits were late in the fourth quarter. The more tired you are, the more they want to drive you into the turf. They want to embarrass you in your house, and they did.

John Lott Doesn't Get It: Seriously, what's with all the coddling? Go ahead and put pieces of glass in the Gatorade, John. When the players find them, they don't pick them out - they're supposed to chew them up and swallow them, because it's freaking Steelers week and that's what insane people with good medical plans do. Stop treating the meatheads so well, and hit them with sticks until they're mean. Because it's Steelers week, and we needed mean. We got meek.

Bill Cowher Gets it: The score is 27-0 and this insanely chinned tornado of spittle is arguing with officials and challenging calls. The Steelers head coach had the game well in hand, but he didn't care. He wanted more. He knows he's playing the Browns and the point isn't just to win. It's to crush, destroy, and leave behind a blackened ruin. That's exactly what he did.

Ebay Ticket Sellers Don't Get It: Who the heck is selling or giving away their tickets to these Steeler fans? They're everywhere - the club seats, the end zones, the upper deck, the lower deck - infesting the Stadium like zebra mussels, only smellier when wet. Folks, if you're going to turn your back on the team, you would do more good to shred or burn your tickets than sell them to a Steeler fan. That doesn't teach the team a lesson - it merely creates an annoyance for fellow Browns fans and a serious threat to the overall level of local hygiene.

- - -

In all seriousness, the Browns organization needs to figure out Steeler week, and fast.

The Browns didn't just embarrass themselves on Saturday, they embarrassed the fans and anyone who has invested trust in this team. The day before Christmas was an exercise in humiliation for anyone who has given their heart over to this franchise.

The fans have had enough of this. The still-massive community of Browns fans is shrinking by the week.

After all, who wants to spend Christmas Eve being taunted in your own Stadium? Self-flagellation went out after the Middle Ages.

The Browns organization is represented mostly these days to fans as a big ball of advertising, team-owned media, corporate sponsorships, and bad football.

My daughter, whose disdain for football had been put on hold to attend this special game with her family, had the best line of the day. "Dad", she told me, "My neck hurts from hanging my head in shame".

It's a funny line, but I'm guessing I won't be able to get her back for many more games. Not even gallows humor can save the team from the apathy that's coming unless this boat turns around. Those desperate commercials for seats and loges which hit the television this year are just a glimpse of the future.

Randy, Romeo, and Phil, after what you put us all through on Saturday, you can't expect your honeymoon to get extended much longer. Your predecessors used up most of the patience, and you're stuck.

Fans aren't in a mood to put up with much more of this. Saturday was more than a bad game - it was a humiliating and negative experience for anyone who attended.

Get better, or get bent. Either show us you care, or give the team to people who do.

- AB


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