Cow Patties from Columbus: Week 2

Sirk is back with this week's tales of a Browns fan lost in Columbus, a veritable melting post of NFL team loyalties. This week, our hero deals with Bengals fans / friends during the most unlikely game of all...


Wow. The Browns' 51-45 shootout victory over the Bengals was the single most confounding and befuddling event in Cleveland sports since…well…since Indians second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera first took the field while wearing Barbara Bush's necklace

If we take the Tribe out of the mix, Sunday's game was the single most confounding and befuddling event in Cleveland sports since…well…since the Cavaliers made the FCC twitch all spring by inundating the airwaves with the word "Boobie." 

Okay, on second thought, it has been a shockingly eventful year in Cleveland sports. But the point is that nobody saw this game coming. Nobody. If you had asked me on Sunday at noon to write down 200 potential final scores for this game, "Cleveland 51, Cincinnati 45" would not have made it onto the slip of paper. Even if I decided to mix in a few joke scores, I probably would have opted for "Cleveland 4, Cincinnati 4 (tie)" or something as equally preposterous as "Cleveland 51, Cincinnati 45." 

What a mind-bender. 96 points? 1085 yards of offense? So many first downs that the referee appeared to be doing the Tomahawk Chop? The only rational explanation I have is that both teams were videotaping each other's defensive signals and putting the information to good use. ("They're using their Cover-Zero defense again! Throw deep!") 

Other thoughts on the game… 

* So what's the deal with Derek Anderson? Couldn't beat out Charlie Frye over the course of several months, then he gets a start and has a 5-TD game? How is that even possible? It would be like some chick losing the Miss Genius USA Pageant to Miss South Carolina, but then serving as an emergency back-up speaker at a Nobel science conference and eloquently explaining and demonstrating the nuts & bolts of the working time machine she built in the garage while Grey's Anatomy was in re-runs.  

* The Bengals' offense was clicking on all cylinders, but the Browns' offense out-Bengaled the Bengals' offense. A quarterback making all the throws, two sure-handed playmaking receiving weapons, a battering ram running back running wild, and an offensive line opening holes and keeping the QB's uniform clean… it's the Bengals' offense, but the Browns did it better.  Deep down, isn't this secretly what you dreamed the Browns offense could be like when you looked at a roster with Edwards, Winslow, Lewis, Steinbach, Thomas, etc?  Isn't this what you secretly dreamed it could be like if the team had a real quarterback and a real offensive coordinator? And don't you feel giddy and internally vindicated for your daydreams now that the Bengals let Derek Anderson play Franchise Quarterback For A Day? 

* Since when does a second-string quarterback start a game and throw for a gazillion yards and a bunch of TDs…and the Browns WIN? Somewhere, Kelly Holcomb heard about this game and thought "WTF?" 

* Despite an exhausting pre-game tonsil hockey session with a couple members of the Dawg Pound, Bengals blabbermouth Chad Johnson still found enough energy to surpass 200 yards receiving on the day. On his second touchdown, he leaped into the Dawg Pound as promised. It was then that a few fans tried to restore some dignity by treating the tabby-striped interloper to a beer bath and bird show. My favorite part of the whole sequence was when the Cincy players were sniffing Johnson's jersey on the sidelines. Given the number of breathalyzers the Bengals have failed over the last few years, you'd think they'd already know what beer smells like. (Then again, maybe it was a friendly game of Guess the Jersey's BAC. "That's a Chris Henry .092!"…."Naw man, it's way more than that! It's an Odell Thurman .180!"….."Too high! It's more of a Justin Smith .152.") 

* You know how a striker can have a horrible game for 89 minutes of a soccer match, then make one brilliant play in the 90th minute to win the game and be the hero? Okay, probably not. But as a soccer fan, that's immediately what I thought of when Leigh Bodden made the game saving interception in the final minute. Usually one of Chad Johnson's toughest opponents, Bodden and his mates allowed Mr. Gold Teeth to rack up 216 yards and two touchdowns. But inside the final minute, with the game on the line, Bodden rose to the occasion and made an eye-popping, over-the-shoulder, double-toe-drag pick on the sideline to clinch the game. Trust me, Barry, that soccer analogy was perfect. Stop smirking. 

*I know Romeo lost another replay challenge, but at least he was right. Even T.J. Hooschmannzahddeh (or whatever) looked stunned when the officials upheld the TD call. And I also know I made fun of Romeo for resembling a taxidermic moose last week. When the refs upheld the Houshmunzaddahh touchdown, Romeo displayed some real emotion this week, even if it was comical to watch. When the referee announced that the TD would stand as called, Romeo looked like a contestant who accidentally picked the million dollar briefcase on "Deal or No Deal."  

* Credit where credit is due. After the Charlie Frye trade, Romeo said he told Derek Anderson to go out there against the Bengals and play like the second half of last year's Kansas City game. When I heard that, I laughed so hard that it appeared I was auditioning to be a panelist on an NFL pre-game show. "If only it were that easy!" I said to myself. But then Anderson played as if it were the second half of last year's KC game. So full credit to Romeo, who also told Jamal Lewis to "pretend you are running AGAINST the Browns instead of FOR the Browns." 

* From the My Family Is Full Of Idiots Department: First, my brother bought tickets to Sunday's Tribe game and then watched almost the entire Browns game on the TV at the beer stand. So instead of watching the game on TV for free in his living room, he paid a $20 cover and gulped $7 beers while watching the game on TV on a Jacobs Field concourse. Then my dad called me at 5:00 and wanted to know "how bad it was." He had decided to work in the yard instead of watching the Browns "get killed", and figured it would be more fun to listen to me "rant about the loss" than to "waste time" watching it. Re-reading those last few sentences, I wish both of them were Asian or something, so I'd KNOW I was adopted instead of merely wishing it were so. 

As I mentioned last year, two of my best friends in Columbus are Bengals fans. They are REAL Bengals fans, not Who-Dey-Come-Latelies. We have developed a non-aggression pact that involves rooting for our own teams, but not rubbing it in. And for the regular season, it's better that an Ohio team wins over a bunch of bloody-gummed Yinzers or team-thieving Harbor Hobos. 

I have come to learn how important it is to have such a pact in place. Ben Kriegmont, an OBR reader residing in the notorious Browns hotbed of Juneau, Alaska, told me the following harrowing tale from his college years at Ohio State

"The drunks I lived with were four Bunghole fans and one other Clevelander," he wrote. "Boy, was that fun.  The first Cincy-Browns game we watched together was our last. We both invited a bunch of friends to help root for our respective sides...and things got ugly fast. The coffee table didn't make it through the first half, then a fight broke out. One Cincy guy got a broken arm.  I knocked the TV off the stand and out the window when someone nailed me in the back of the head with something." 

Rather than breaking bones and launching TVs out of window like rock stars, we used cell phones to keep in touch throughout the game. My friend Rob and I talked through much of the game, trying to make sense of it. Early in the fourth quarter, Rob gave up. "I am going to be like you in the 58-48 game from 2004," he said. "I am just going to sit back and enjoy it for all the offense, regardless of what happens." (During the Browns' 58-48 loss in Cincinnati, I gave up at one point and announced to one and all, "I don't even give a crap who wins this game anymore, so long as they keep scoring. I would totally buy this game on DVD!") (Hmm….maybe they'll make a two-DVD set?) 

My good buddy Flick, meanwhile, so was so flustered, he could only text. Here are some actual text messages: 

3:14pm—"I've just about had it with sports." 

3:18pm—"This is a joke." 

4:00pm—"To hell with these clowns." 

4:44pm—"(Bleeping bleepholes.) That's damned ridiculous. I am so disgusted right now. (Bleepholes.)"  

After the game, I steered clear of my Bengal buddies. I got to bask in the glory of the game by recounting it for my yard-working father. Then another Cleveland friend of mine called to discuss the game, and we both laughed at how, with the Bengals starting at their own 9 with no timeouts and 1:03 to play, we were convinced the Browns had lost. Then he said, "Well, since the Browns somehow pulled it out, that probably means the Tribe will get swept by Detroit to make up for it." 

So much for enjoying the Browns' improbable win. I immediately went into 2005 Pennant Race Paranoia. Happy frickin' Sunday to you too, pal. (Thankfully, it turned out to be Theme Week in Cleveland Sports, and the theme was Kitty Killers. By Wednesday afternoon, Cleveland Sports had moved up to #2 on PETA's Most Wanted.) 

Before I go, I have one last little Columbus story to tell you. One of the perils of living in a sports melting pot is that I have to mingle with The Misguided every single day. I have to be on high alert at all times. Even the most mundane of conversations can turn into a sports team sparring match. 

This week, the Steeler fan who sits next to me asked me about a minor work-related item.  

SteelerFan:  Why didn't you tell me about that? 

Me:   Because I'm a jerk. 

SteelerFan:  Well, you ARE a Browns fan, and "Browns fan" is a synonym for "jerk." 

Me: Congratulations. Most Steeler fans think "synonym" is something you put on your toast. 

It's these little battles that I must fight day after day after day. 

Well, that's all for now. I am looking forward to this weekend, which is another theme weekend-- Smoke Oakland. I have some Tribe tickets versus the A's, and of course the Browns will be playing the Raiders. I trust that Romeo told Derek Anderson, "Play like you did last week against Cincinnati", so there should be nothing to worry about.  

Until next week, 


Steve Sirk, once Art Bietz's co-conspirator at the TruthCenter, has taken to sending a weekly letter to "home base" about life as a Browns fan struggling in the NFL mixing pot of Central Ohio. At some point in life, Sirk determined that suffering through the nexus, dips, valleys, and various low points of being a Cleveland sports fan within geographic proximity of Cleveland itself did not create sufficient emotional pain. Sneeringly dismissive of even basic survival instincts, Sirk elected to reside in Columbus, Ohio, so that he could better be surrounded by fans of winning franchises who could mock his very existence. If you wish to contact an individual of such clearly questionable judgment, you may do so at 

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