Cow Patties from Columbus

Wherein our hero aggressively tries to remember the Dolphins game through the haze of Tribe anxiety, recounting a surprising survival and the recuperative value of hugs...


Greetings from Columbus. The Browns' 41-31 victory over the Dolphins seems like it occurred years ago, and not just because the Browns have an exciting offense for the first time since the Kosar era. With the Tribe either on the verge of going to the World Series or ripping out my heart Temple of Doom style, it has been a long week. I am beyond frazzled. To borrow a phrase from my friend Hang, my blood is carbonated right now.

But if I concentrate really hard and think back to last Sunday, I do have a few thoughts.

* Leading up to the game, Joey Porter, who is no longer good enough to play for the Steelers, shot his mouth off about Kellen Winslow. The Browns' tight end, in a shocking display of restraint, said that Porter "just needs a hug."

Funny, when I watched the game, it seemed like it was Porter who was trying to hug Winslow. For example, with the Browns in the hurry-up offense with under a minute to play in the half, Winslow ran down the field. Porter chased after him as fast as he could, but Winslow, playing hard to get, was able to run away from Porter and catch the football. But Joey Porter would not give up! He kept running after Winslow and finally put his arms around him and gave him a hug so big that it brought Winslow to the turf 33 yards from the line of scrimmage. After all of Porter's mean smack talk, I think that hug from Joey really boosted Kellen's spirits. He was later seen smiling and high-fiving teammates.

* The best throws that Derek Anderson made all day, aside from all the ones that resulted in touchdowns and first downs and stuff, were the three balls he threw away. What an exciting development for the Browns offense. I know Derek trusts his strong arm and all, but now he's learning how to use it. If Romeo pulls a Rutigliano and tells Anderson to figuratively "throw it into Lake Erie" if the play's not there, we now have hope that Anderson will use his strong arm to literally throw the ball into Lake Erie.

* The Browns defense is so bad, they got carved up by some guy named Cleo Lemon, who was last seen playing centerfield for the 1984 Detroit Tigers. Then again, after looking at the pre-game stats, it didn't take a psychic to know that Browns tacklers would be playing a game of Miss Cleo.

(Stop groaning, Barry. Do not mock the writer's craft. That was a work of art, but I suppose, in your mind, art bites.)

(See, I did it again! Art bites = Art Bietz! And either one could be in your mind! It's deep on so many levels. Words are my playthings, Barry. I am not to be trifled with.)

* With the offense doing so well and the defense doing so poorly, the Browns as a whole are some sort of attractive/repulsive bi-polar Frankenstein hybrid. They are Kathy Griffin's face on Jessica Alba's body. Or Halle Berry's face on Romeo Crennel's body. You have to be very selective at what you look at when the Browns are playing.


So I see that Bernie has brought an Arena Football League team to Cleveland. This is great news for football fans who love football so much that they will watch anything with "football" in its name, even if the game involves trampolines.

As you may or may not know, we have a team down here in Columbus called the Destroyers. They made history this spring by reaching the Arena Bowl despite a 7-9 record, a feat that had only been accomplished once in the previous year. (Unlike the 2006 Chicago Rush, the 2007 Destroyers failed to cap their 7-9 season with a championship.)

I have been to two Destroyers games, and… well… it's… uh… interesting. I went to one game with my good buddy Flick, and started writing up a recap of the night for a local publication. I ultimately scrapped the article, but looking over the incomplete first draft from 2006, there were two vignettes that I must share with my fellow Clevelanders, to give you a taste of what arena football is all about:

* In the first quarter, the referees tossed their penalty flags and gathered in a huddle. Then the head referee made the following announcement: "There is no penalty on the play. The second linebacker blitzed, but because there was a play-action fake on the play, the second linebacker was legally in the backfield and there is no penalty."

For a moment, Flick and I sat there in stunned silence.

"What the hell is that junk?" Flick finally blurted. "The second linebacker can't blitz? But oh, wait, there was play action, so now there's no flag? What the hell is that?"

"No s***," I said. "I think the entire arena football rule book is the equivalent of the infield fly rule."

* The Bombshells are the Destroyers' dance squad. They are smoking hot, and they lined each end zone. We decided that the coolest job in professional, or even semi-professional sports, would be to be the back judge in arena football. Basically, you stand at the back of the end zone while the scantily-clad Bombshells step forward and slink and gyrate and otherwise Viagrafy all the men in attendance. It's a cheerleading scene right out of the movie Baseketball, and you have the best spot in the building.

"Look at that," said Flick, with more than a hint of envy. "The back judge gets paid to hang out with hot chicks all night."

"Seriously," I told Flick, as the Bombshells bent over in their short shorts, "the best part of being a back judge is that you literally get to be a back judge."

Just then, the Bombshells turned to face the back of the endzone.

"And a front judge too," I added.

"He just went from back judge to rack judge," said Flick. "What a great job. It doesn't even matter that he would have made more money working the drive thru at Wendy's tonight."


Before, I would be remiss if I did not follow up on last week's letter and inform you of the fate of my affable friend Ross, the Dolphins fan who took a Browns Backers bus to Cleveland to watch the game from the Dawg Pound.

Sunday night, I got a text message from Ross, who was still hanging out at the Browns Backers' local watering hole. "I'm hanging out at the Dub Pub, so I'm not outta the woods yet, but it appears that my award-winning personality won out after all."

Later in the week, I got some details. "I had a jacket on, but once the bus got to Delaware, I took it off to reveal my white Joey Porter Dolphins jersey. This was greeted with some boos and some epithets, but it went as well as could be expected. We were having fun. They told me they had some Eagles fans go with them to an Eagles-Browns game a couple of years ago and a fight broke out on the bus, so they stopped the bus half way to Cleveland and made the Eagles fans get off."

At the game, Ross was dreading sitting in the Dawg Pound, but said Kellen Winslow may have saved his life. "When your boy Kellen said that Porter needed a hug, I knew I had my out. I was the subject of the ‘aaaaaaa-hole' chant, and people said a lot of things to me, but I could always defuse the situation by saying that I just needed a hug. I hugged a lot of people on Sunday. No chicks, unfortunately. Just a lot of guys who could have beaten me up if they weren't hugging me."

Remembering the profanity-laced beer shower he took as a youngster during the Scott Mitchell game at the old stadium, Ross said he only wore one beer on Sunday. "I spilled it all over myself," he said. "What a waste! But if you tell this story to other people, tell them I poured it over my own head and told the Browns fans that now that that's out of the way, they should save their money. That would make for a much better story than ‘Ross is an uncoordinated drinker.'"

What about applauding? How did he handle it, when, say, Chet "Cleo" Lemon rallied the Dolphins to within three points in the third quarter? "I stood up and gave three solid claps. I figured that was enough to show support for my team, but not so much that someone would assault with a dog bone. I think the fact that the Dolphins never had the lead increased my chances for survival."

All in all, Ross had a great time. "There was beer and jello shots on the ride up. When we got to the game, they had hired a guy to cook for us. It was a fun ride back. They even told me I'm a ‘lifer.' I'm allowed to come on any future trips. I have to say that while I still hate the Browns, my opinion of Browns fans has totally changed. I may go on their trip next year, no matter who is playing. That's how much fun I had with those guys."

All's well that ends well. So that's the story of my friend Ross, a Dolphins fan from Canton who lives in Columbus and infiltrated a local Browns Backers group so he could take their bus to Cleveland to cheer for Miami and now may go to future Browns games to hang out with Browns fans even though he hates the Browns.

Like I said, things are much simpler in Cleveland.

Well, that's all for now, Barry. I am so glad the Browns have a bye this week. The imminent ecstasy or agony of the Tribe's trip to Boston will leave me totally incomprehensible for the next few days. Here's hoping the Browns-Rams showdown is second-page news next Sunday.



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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