I’m probably past the point where I would logically expect to have a midlife crisis or some other sort of existential hassles. And as I’m generally a content kind of guy, that stuff really isn’t my style anyway.
Unless, apparently, we’re talking about football.
I was strolling through the Mall at Robinson this afternoon and I was struck with a question:
Why am I making myself miserable every single football season when I could be enjoying myself?
Here’s what prompted the question. Every store in the mall has Steelers stuff up in their windows. Everyone is wearing football gear. Everyone is talking about Sunday’s game. I have a well-worn Newsbreak shtick where I gripe about the endless Steeler stuff, but if I were a fan, I would have jumped in with both feet a long time ago.
I was a huge NFL football fan until 1995. I went with some great seasons — albeit some with hugely frustrating endings — with my Cleveland Browns until that point.
And then my team was stolen, with the blessings of the league. And even since the team came back, I’ve been largely absent from NFL fandom. In the four years I went without the Browns, I learned to live without Sunday football; since the team rejoined the league, I’ve had precious few reasons to get excited about anything they’ve done. And in a league that is built to make sure all its teams have a shot at being competitive, the only reason I can find for a decade of embarrassing, barely professional football in Cleveland is complete and total incompetence, from the owner on down.
And I’m tired of it.
Still, as I’ve lived in Pittsburgh area for that entire decade, that question has never popped into my head. I’ve had people ask me why I’m not a fan of the local team; I have plenty of friends here who aren’t natives but have had no trouble assimilating.
So what’s my deal? Am I admirably loyal? Or am I just an idiot?
For the past two years, a native friend of mine who is as frustrated by the Pirates as I am by the Browns has offered me a trade: He’ll dump the Pirates in favor of the Cleveland Indians fan if I make the reverse switch in the fall. I’ve never taken him up on his offer, but on the ride back home from Robinson this afternoon, I started thinking about the possibility.
In theory, it would be easy. I already know more about the Steelers day-to-day than I do about the Browns and I don’t think I would have too much trouble finding gear I would like — I look good in black and I already own two terrible towels.
Having said that, I’m not even sure it would be possible. I’m talking about a team that I’ve hated for years; along with my feelings for pro football in general, that’s kind of faded towards indifference recently, but it still could be tough to try to flip a switch and change my allegiance. It might even be impossible.
But you guys know me — I’m all for fun, and if I had already found a different approach to Sunday football, I’d be having a lot more fun than I am now.
So, I’m curious to hear what y’all think about this one. Am I a horrible person for even letting this cross my mind? Or am I moron for trying to hang on to something well past the point that any sane person could be expected to do so?
C’mon in, buddy! There’s plenty of room! You’re about to trade up.
I’ve been on the fence for two years. It’s worse, I think b/c Iive in CLE.
Eff, I think I just hate the NFL.
I say hang on. Why? Two words. Red. Sox. You don’t dump your team, no matter how long the drought. That’s why they are your team. Anything else is fake. It might be fun for a while but it will feel empty and not authentic in time.
Winning is no reason to change colors. That said, you can always respect and enjoy the success of a second team.
Don’t feel too bad – try having season tickets to the Falcons for many years only to have it all ruined by player strikes and the like…. dropped those tickets like a rock. Then moved to Florida where you watch the hated “longsnouts” (aka Gators) win 2 Nat’l Championships (one of which I endured with your Parents in Phoenix 4 years ago) by a coach that never acknowledged that most ( 4 years ago) and some (2 years ago) players were recruited by Ron Zook who was fired. And then, of course, having to be accosted on a daily basis with the HUGH longsnout decals and banners that disappear within minutes of a “loss”, unlike loyal Buckeye and Geogia Dawg fans that endure everything to support their teams. As for the Browns, we just pray they’ll get back to excellence one day. Remember, we were all just 70 miles from the Bengals but we continued to support the pro team to the north that represented Ohio. We still love ’em. As for us displaced Buckyes, we know how to do OH & IO, the words to Carmen Ohio, Buckeye Battle Cry, and Across the Field.
You can use your Terrible Towel and support the local team as long as they remain loyal and don’t hide all their gear when they have a loss.
(haven’t read comments yet, but…) here’s a thought. Become a fan of the former Browns, the Ravens. Now, Steeler fanns will hate you just as much (not YOU, per se, because you are un-hatable, just the team for which you root), and your team will be in the running each season (usually). Be prepared for comments about criminals and murderers, though (i.e. Ray Lewis).
Otherwise: hells, yeah, jump on the Steelers fan-wagon. I’ve been a Steelers fan my whole life, and it’s fun here! Even during the bad years, you’ll have six (maybe seven) championship rings to keep you warm at night, metaphorically speaking.
Come on in; the water’s fine.
Uncle Crappy isn’t dumping his team. The Browns dumped Uncle Crappy 15 years ago, and the rest of Cleveland too.
NO! Don’t jump!
There is a “murmer” among Browns Nation, a hint of impending awakening that may end the gloom. Or, is that a “Shurmer”?
I say live, learn and evolve – make a smart decision today that is based upon current and relevant information – similar to my beliefs that the Constitution is a living document – and that our wonderful forefathers certainly did not contemplate the right to bare arms including Glocks or the extent that the Commerce Clause would be used to provide a broad federal power, smart, rational thought is based upon current day day reality balanced with intelligent lessons learned from previous experiences –
I’ve done this more than you want to hear (especially the teams I’ve rooted for – from the Broncos from my time in Boulder to the Yankees now) – you don’t have to be a fair weather fan to make a switch – and trust me, it is nice to have a winning program to follow –
So I say make a leap – try it on for a season, you can always find another team or give up on the NFL.
So practice saying it aloud – ‘Go Stillers!’ – except for tonight of course – J E T S Jets Jets Jets!!!!
Your NY based friend
Each late August/September I get out my Cleveland Browns coffee mugs, check my CB tee-shirt and flag, and circle the dates of the games with the dopey Bengals and the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. I tell myself that this will be the year that the Browns will finally begin to turn it around. I do this in spite of the fact that Einstein (or someone) said that true insanity is repeating the same process over and over and hoping for a different outcome. As the season progresses and the losses mount, I begin to put things away and enjoy the free time on Sunday afternoons. From time to time I will watch the Steelers as I have developed some grudging respect for the success they have achieved since the 70’s. When the playoffs start, I have a need to have a team to support and the Steelers come the closest. I do not and will not buy Terrible Towels or Steelers shirts and I will not “cheer” for them, but I will support them (in a small way) against the Jets and in The Super Bowl if it comes to pass. Then the season will be over and once again, I’ll start paying attention to what the Browns are doing to make the 2011 season a success!
UC, You can’t change, period. You are “born” a fan of a team. Changing teams is like changing your heritage. It can’t be done.