Derry: A Father's Humiliation

Of all the possible humiliations a father could face, the worst of all is the one that Frank Derry is now dealing with. He explains his plight in the following moving tale, which also discusses the Browns "loss" to a team from another National Football League "city".

It was a sad day several months ago when my son, Jim, came out of the closet.

Yes, folks, as much as I hate to admit it, he informed me he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan!! And that for Christmas he wanted a Ben Roethlisberger jersey!!!

I couldn't believe it. My own flesh and blood was a turn-coat. I was in mourning for weeks. There was a long stretch when I couldn't even bare to look at him. I wore a dawg mask to hide my shame.

Where had I gone wrong!! Had I not been selective enough in picking his friends? Was it the fact I was often out of town covering the Browns during his formative years? Had I been a negligent parent?

What's a father to do?

I could cut him out of my Will, but, believe me, that wouldn't be much of a blow. I could shower my granddaughter with Browns clothing, but he'd probably give it all away to Goodwill.

I was considering having his name legally changed to Benedict Arnold, although at 25 years old, he might have had the final say in blocking the move. He'd probably change it to James Benedict Roethlisberger Derry.

The humiliation of it all!!!

Suddenly, the two yearly match-ups between these long-time rivals took on a whole new meaning. For the first time, it became personal. The Hatfield and McCoys' skirmish seemed like and afternoon tea party compared to this family feud.

That's why I was so devastated when the Steelers rallied from a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit to beat the Browns, 24-20.

When the phone rang just seconds after the game ended, I knew it was not good news. Benedict Arnold was calling to gloat.

But what does he have to brag about?

Except for defensive standouts Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu, the Steelers in no way resemble the team that handed the Browns a 41-0 defeat at Cleveland Stadium last Dec. 24.

More importantly, the Browns, until their fourth quarter collapse, didn't look like a team that has no business being on the same field with the NFL's elite which was the case last December.

It was obvious none of the Browns' players involved in that humiliating defeat forgot the feeling they had as they walked off their home field while thousands of Terrible Towels were being waved in the stands.

But as bad as that feeling was, I can't imagine that it was any worse than this time when victory was so close. Charlie Frye's final pass barely escaped the grasp of Braylon Edwards, who had another near-miss in the end zone at the end of the first half.

Add in the narrow loss by his alma mater, Michigan, to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday and it was a very bad weekend or the former Wolverine. 

In reality, it shouldn't have come down to the last-second Hail Mary.

For nearly three quarters, the defense played with an intensity rarely seen in recent times. I've been singing the praises of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's unit all season. I'm sure that neighbors many blocks away could hear me warbling during Sunday's first half.

I think Grantham has gotten more out of his personnel than any coordinator in the NFL. If the Michigan State Spartans don't hire Grantham as their head coach in the next couple of weeks, I am certain that other teams, be it in college or the pros, will come calling sometime soon. His reputation as one of the up-and-coming assistant coaches in the NFL is spreading like wildfire.

Grantham's defense seems to come up with a new star every week. The player making the biggest impact Sunday was Devan Holly, who intercepted two Roethlisberger passes, returning one for a second-quarter touchdown. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions in all and 18 for the year, an NFL high.

But when it came to crunch time, the defense could do nothing to stop the Steeler offense. One drive after another in the second half, Roethlisberger marched his team down the field.

I think, much like they did against the Chargers a couple of weeks ago, the defense wore down. The problem seems to be that they play so hard for Grantham that by the fourth quarter they are out of gas.   

But the defense didn't lose this game. Put this one squarely on the shoulders of the offense, which failed to score any touchdowns.

Holley scored one for the defense, Josh Cribbs scored another on a kickoff return.

The offense, playing without injured running back Reuben Droughns, was limited to two field goals.

As a result, I'll have to listen to Jim brag about his Steelers at least until the rematch in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Dec. 7. This coming Thursday, turkey will be the main entrée, but I'm sure I'll be eating a little crow as well.

Maybe it's time for him to go back into his closet.


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