The magic of football and the combined experiences it creates is that shared moments can last forever. One mention of "Red Right 88", and Browns fans know exactly the moment, and where we were. I was sitting on the living room couch with my parents, in our home in Chesterland, then still a largely rural town. We were watching the game together on our living room television, as I was home for Christmas Break following another year of college.
"This team is going to go to the Super Bowl!", my father said enthusiastically as the Browns offense took charge. We all agreed. As the Kardiac Kids plowed downfield in the freezing temperatures, we all knew what was next: the magician Brian Sipe, commander of an immensely talented Browns offense, would lead the Browns to a winning field goal or touchdown.
Then it happened. A moment when building excitement turned into stone silence. A moment in which even Nev Chandler's "Pandemonium Palace" would quiet.
Brian Sipe, throwing the ball on a windy day as the Browns tried to avoid kicking a field goal in the difficult conditions, has his pass, intended for Ozzie Newsome, intercepted by Raider defensive back Mike Davis. The play the Browns were trying to execute was called "Red Right 88".
The moment is etched in the collective memory as sure as "The Drive" and Modell's betrayal of Browns fans. The echoes of Red Right 88, the fateful decision by Rutigliano, and the errant pass, still reverberate.
Ozzie Newsome, the target of the pass, is unable to reach the Super Bowl as a player, but manages to add a little class to an ugly Modell squad that makes it to the Super Bowl under his care. Newsome is named the first African-American NFL GM in 2002, and makes headlines for his achievement. Browns OG Joe Delamielleure deservedly makes the Hall of Fame in 2003 and discusses the play as the moment which kept him from the Super Bowl.
But what of Mike Davis, the Raider defensive back who stole the pass from Sipe, and allowed the Raiders to head to the Super Bowl? His story tops the wire this morning, and is required reading for any Browns fan wanting to understand the complete story of one of the team's most heartbreaking moments.