Life, Football, and Mortality

Like the rest of us, The Oracle was stunned and frustrated by Sunday's loss. A memory of a recent tragedy of massive proportions, however, let's him put it in perspective. Here's the latest from The Oracle, one of Bernie's Insiders Fan Commentators.

The bile still rose in my throat Monday afternoon when I recalled the 4th quarter against Kansas City. This was a game we should have won. A questionable performance by the defense nothwithstanding, we were still positioned to win the game and lost it on another bizarre, impossible to predict sequence of events at the very end. I know of no other team that falls victim to these completely outlandish turns of events with the frequency of our beloved Browns.

I hope that the players are more resilient than the fans coming off of a game like this, because it really seemed to rock my world when we lost. I didn't even move out of my seat for about an hour, sitting there fighting the urge to bitch slap a non-football fan guest of mine that was running her mouth on and on about how it served them right for being show offs an committing two quick penalties as a result of unsportsmanlike behavior. She's one of those people who talks and talks and if she has nothing new to say she will keep repeating what she already said. Some people are alive only because it is illegal to kill them. Who knew the opening day would end like this when all had been so good a few hours, even a few minutes earlier.

I rolled out of bed around 10:30 that morning. Saturday was my birthday and I had been out late with friends celebrating. I watched the new Fox NFL show, and was impressed by what a self-absorbed a-hole Tony Siragusa was. He actually insinuated that he wanted the Ravens to struggle because he wanted them to miss him. It didn't matter though, all the off-season hype and anticipation was about to come to a head for me in the next couple of hours.

Then the CBS pregame show started. In the background, the strains of a marching band's rendition of Jethro Tull's ‘Aqualung' could be heard. Is there anything more pathetic than a marching band trying to play rock and roll music? I fully expect to hear a marching band perform Coolio's ‘Gangstas Paradise' before my days are done. Still the anticipation built. Beer was chilled. My wife's famous Chili, cheese and cream-cheese dip was heating up in the oven. Nearly Showtime.

At 1PM I cracked the first beer. I no longer drink with the abandon I once did during the Browns' games. One of the most unpleasant sensations I have ever had is being drunk at the end of a heartbreaking loss. After a few dozen of those I have learned. I always hedge my bets and limit myself to 1 beer per quarter of football. If we win I can get hammered with relative security as to my mental state.

Finally, the game started and almost immediately my anticipation was rewarded with an interception. Woo Hoo! Happy Birthday to me, this is going to be good.

And for over 3 quarters it was good…for the most part. The Defense looked flat, but we were performing as well as I could have ever hoped for on Offense and victory seemed within our grasp. Then the bottom dropped out.

We all watched the game, so I am not going to regurgitate what we already know. I was just devastated. It took the rest of the evening and back-to-back episodes of The Simpsons just to get back to where I could talk to people. All the next day the unhappiness and frustration lingered as well. The longest week in the world is the one after the Browns lose. I can't seem to get it behind me fast enough and move on to something better. We couldn't get to the Cincinnati game quickly enough to suit me.

Last night, I was still so down I couldn't even channel surf and perhaps that was providence. I had put A&E on that afternoon to watch NewsRadio reruns and never changed the channel. As I sat and moped staring into the screen a documentary on the 9/11 disaster came on.

Don't judge me harshly for what I am about to say because I am as shocked and saddened as anyone by those terrorist attacks and I fully support all efforts to root out and abolish terrorism in all forms in all places. I also want to see the parties responsible for the attacks perpetrated on September 11 brought to justice, but I personally think that a lot of people have taken the 9/11 tragedy and made a hobby out of it. Flags and flag stickers are nice, but they are symbols only and really do nothing for anybody except the folks that manufacture and sell them. I see all of the flag wavers, chain emails telling you to turn on your headlights on this date or to wear red white and blue on that date to show our support and I am appalled. Show it to whom? Each other? What a colossal waste of time. What a pretentious act, and how self-deluding it is to think that it makes a bit of difference. I see the mysterious folded up $20 bill thing that purports to show the flaming twin towers and I am amazed. Who has the time, the inclination and the mind-altering substances to dig up this crap?

Talk is cheap and symbolism is even cheaper. The flag is merely a symbol, a piece of fabric. In and of itself it is impotent. I am far more concerned with ‘The Republic For Which It Stands' than I am the flag itself. All the flags and headlights and red white ‘n blue trappings in the world make not a shred of difference in the war on terrorism. I question how many of those so-called ‘patriots' would take up arms and lay their own lives on the line for the cause of abolishing terrorism, because that is where the real difference is made. Not by hanging a flag or putting a bumper sticker on your SUV.

But this program was being presented as a very centered and factual documentary from a human perspective, not a Love-It-Or-Leave-It rah-rah pep rally. Horribly burned survivors, relatives who were speaking with victims trapped on the top floors of the WTC prior to and even at the time of the collapse and emergency service personnel on the scene were all interviewed and their accounts included in the timeline of what happened. There wasn't a flag to be seen, only the stark pain and scars of a true tragedy. Let me say that again…A TRUE TRAGEDY.

By the midpoint of the show, my own petty selfishness came home to roost and the insignificance of a football game fell into perspective. Here I was wallowing in the ‘tragedy' of losing a football game…one of sixteen…and it all came into focus. I was childishly fixating my life on what should be a diversion, completely self-absorbed in my own wants and wishes while I still get the opportunity to look for something better next Sunday.

There are no more Sunday's for the many victims of a real catastrophe. As my own life stretches before me, I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to cheer my team on, win or lose, because so many can no longer hope to "get ‘em next time".

May God bless the real victims in this world.

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