Opinions expressed may not represent those of Bernie Kosar or the staff of Bernie's Insiders"> Opinions expressed may not represent those of Bernie Kosar or the staff of Bernie's Insiders">

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

Commentate-Off 2002 is a distant memory now, as are some of the "winners" of last Summer's challenge. (**Cough!** **Cornflakes!** **Cough!**) Into the void rides the Shotgun Shogun, victim of past "why don't you write for the site" webmaster pestering and recipient of our lamest commentator logo yet. <P><I>Opinions expressed may not represent those of Bernie Kosar or the staff of Bernie's Insiders</I>

I was fired yesterday.  That's why I'm here.  I was unceremoniously dumped, discarded like an old beach towel.  Of course, they didn't tell me face to face.  I had to read it in a tersely worded diatribe from the powers that be.  It reeked of corporate muscle flexing, Armani suit posturing. Alluding to my "performance"; they were "forced to make a change."

 

* * *

 

It didn't happen on a Sunday.  I was indoctrinated on a chilly Saturday afternoon.  Long stretches of highway turned into long pauses in conversation.  We were on our way to a football game.  The sign read, "Welcome to Providence."  Not the biblical state of mind, the city in Rhode Island.  My dad went to Brown.  We went to the game.  The tailgates were lively, wicker baskets filled with strange, pungent cheese, all about a sea of tweed, derbies and blankets.  This was the Ivy League.  To the boys up at Harvard and down at Yale, Brown was that eclectic, black sheep of an art student they let in the side door.  Not enough pedigree, you know.  That certainly held true of their feisty yet feeble football programs.  These lovable losers went down in rain, sleet and snow by the way of dropped punts, botched handoffs and every means possible.  All the while having to endure the taunts from the visitor's side of the field, "What's the color of horse manure?  Brown, Brown, Brown."

 

* * *

 

You never quite know when the axe is about to fall.  It gets real quiet all of a sudden; an uneasy sensation gnaws at you.  I didn't get a call into the poobah's den.  I didn't get a cold and calculating letter.  No tearful goodbye or mawkish sendoff.  I found out by going to the league update link.  Holding the controller in my sweaty and shifty palms, there it was.  The Browns have fired Butch Davis as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns.  After fifteen years of blood, sweat and tirades, in the unprecedented role of Player/Head Coach/GM, I was swept under the carpet, sent out to pasture.  Moo.  I knew it was true because the glowing red swish behind Butch's face was now a sickening green.  I tried furiously to enter the off-season franchise area but it was locked, sealed up like an archaeological tomb.  Now what?

 

* * *

 

I ran across the field, meeting up with my parents back in the parking lot. We gathered the last crumbs from the feast, tossed the plastic mini-football one last time (always hitting the one car without a scratch) and headed home.  The journey was a smorgasbord of cigar smoke, Dad rambling and Mozart.  When you're five years old, none of that is particularly appealing.  The next day, as Mom read, Dad golfed, and my brother ran out to spray paint the neighbor's Mercedes Benz, I turned on the tube and saw another football game.  According to the announcers, it was the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns.  The silver and black with that guy with the patch piqued my interest.  They must have forgot the logos on the other team's helmets.  The Browns?  Here is where seasons of agony and synaptic serendipity was sparked.  The Browns?  I sat back, tugged on my Fantastic Four sweatshirt and reasoned that must be the same "Brown" team we saw yesterday.  Just with different uniforms.  Ah, the birth of a great mind and a life-long fan.  Ethos.  Pathos.  Pain.

 

* * *

 

When I chortled to my wife that I was fired by the Browns, she fired back "that seems fitting."  Ah, the blessings of a supportive wife.  As for the game itself, Madden 2003 is heroin to the helmet addict.  The play is lucid and fluid, the results believable and the management intoxicating.  Maybe intoxicating is a little too strong.  Several observations culled and gleaned about our boys.  If only Courtney and Gerald were this good.  Dwayne keeps his helmet on (though you know some snide, pimply-faced programmer will toss that wrinkle in there next year).  Jamir doesn't limp.  Tim is Tim.  William Green's performance looks more like his late season eruption.  Kelly Holcomb's does not.  So, after having to sit out a year (there were no job openings), I had but one choice -- stop playing or coach (you guessed it) the Cincinnati Bengals.  This game is realistic.  There's always an opening down in Bungleland.  I took the post.  Now, I'm the svengali of the Bengali.  As good ole Sam Wyche put it, "you don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati."  Right you are Sam.  At least, I won't have to put up with the Ickey shuffle or find Stanley Wilson in a dank hotel room.

 

* * *
 

Much to the chagrin of my assertive father, I didn't get into Brown.  Not even close.  I got into Delaware.  As in Ohio.  As in Ohio Wesleyan, that refugee camp for wayward and underachieving East Coast kids.  That was 1980.  More on that next week…

 

* * *


Short Snaps:

 

  • Let me get this straight.  Gruden dismisses Rickey Dudley.  Browns sign Rickey Dudley.  Browns release Ricky Dudley.  Bucs sign Rickey Dudley.  Bucs play Ricky's old squad in Super Bowl.  Somewhere, at a cheesy antique store, or a confidence-training seminar, Ricky Dudley walks about with a fat ring.  As Dennis Hopper would say, from any of his flicks, "that's wrong man, wrong."  Toss those new Hummer keys to Rickey and he will undoubtedly drop them.
     
  • I wonder if they're any Texas sportswriters with the guts to pen this headline: Parcells to give them thar Cowboys a facelift.
     
  • The most pleasant aspect of hibernating in the dead of February: Don't have to see or hear a peep from Brian Billick.  Remember, there's no I in team but there are plenty of I's in Billick.
     
  • Embattled former uber-agent Leigh Steinberg, he of the plastic smile and slimy trail, will be looking to score big with Jamir for the purposes of resurrecting his career, not number 95's.  Methinks that's bad news for reconciliation.
     
  • Leave the Earl of Holmes be.
     
  • This overtime thing ain't that difficult, folks.  You win the coin flip.  You get the ball.  You don't score, the other team gets the ball and it's suddenly sudden death.  You do score, the other team gets a possession and must score.  After that, it's all sudden death.  11 of 26 overtime games were won by the team that got the first possession – not exactly a smoking gun.  As Len Pasquarelli notes, there were only 5 of those games where both teams had two possessions in OT.  Pick your poison.
     
  • Chuck Barris was not an international spy.
     
  • After further review, some 1248 viewings to be precise, Rich Karlis' attempt was wide left.
     
  • Ripped from that wooden box a week ago, who knew Mel Kiper had a winter home in Punxsutawney?  Six more weeks of winter.  Nine more weeks of Mel o' Drama.
     
  • Here's to you, Joe Strummer.  O ma corazon.

 


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