“Two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside. Two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside."
I always wondered what those obscure opening lines to yet another Marshall Mathers’ classic meant. Then the Sucklers made their run to Super Bowl XL and I was exposed to Benmania. That Redskinstormhawk, the Ohio Benedict Arnold, is now the Appalachian Elvis. All is now revealed. Ben’s a big freak only trailer park groupies could swoon over. Every day he wakes up and does that wiggly prissy TD pass dance of his, he needs to thank Ashton Kutcher for making John Deer chic happen. Now he is idolized by swarms of skanks, some with teeth, some without, and Shady is a prophet.
By the time you read this, Stillers’ hype is either in full gear, or they’ve added the elusive 5th post-AFL-NFL challenge era championship to their trophy case, finally surpassing the Browns for the number of NFL Championships captured since their founding in 1933. This is the “One for The Thumb” that sociopath Mean Joe predicted in 1980 when Brian Sipe and the Kardiac Kids punked his ass. About all that gets me through the day, as a rabid Browns’ fan is the realization that I watched Art Modell hoist Lombardi silver and my head didn’t explode like that dude in Scanners. Then again, I wasn’t living in Baltimore like I’m living in Stiller’s country these days. Since there were no Ravens’ fans to disrespect me for wearing Orange and Brown, I didn’t have to be reminded daily of the Browns’ bitch status back then. Living in the heart of Stillers’ Nation, as I am now, is challenging for any Browns’ fan. All you see are brand new number seven jerseys, new caps covering Joe Dirt mullets, and yellow dishrag sporting Appalachian wannabees fronting like they think they Crips.
How did it really come to this? You got the Road Kill Eatin’ Man and his light bulb watt radio station hosting Sucklers parties in bars for Appalachians in Cleveland. You walk through malls from Mentor to Elyria to Canton to Boardman, and it’s less than 50% Browns gear. There’s more number 43 gear being sold in Tower City now than in Daytona in 1974. I shit you not: The Browns are as dead in Cleveland as God at Yale in the 1960’s.
The Appalachian football nation and Benmania seem invincible right now, not unlike the Sith after Star Wars III. Not that I’m a Star Wars geek or anything. Go ahead, bust out the “know how I know you’re gay?” take from 40-Year-Old Virgin on me, but you get the idea. I am a child of the 1970’s and grew up in the first dark era. But it was all good. The Appalachian’s had been the laughing stock of the NFL for 40 years, and those in the know, the elders, explained to me this was a blip in an orderly universe. The Benedictine alumnus and football son of Paul had two or three lucky drafts, and the Browns were coming off, oh, about only three decades of being the Yankees and Celtics of football. Once the ship was righted to fix that asinine Warfield deal Modell effed up, all would revert to normal. It couldn’t rain on the same dog’s ass for another 40 years, so the 1970’s were inevitable. And there was Turkey Jones to sustain us. When Brian Sipe arrived on the scene to end the reign of those bastards in 1980, the prophecy was proven correct. Then a funny thing happened on the way to the restoration. Red Right 88. After some see saw years, and a lucky run by the Sucklers to a title game blow out, the Kid from Boardman played The Man like as if his name was Sega and came home. The 1980’s were my ragin’ years, and there was nothing like Muni Lot, old skool CMS, and winning big over the Appalachians. Bernie, Bernie. Conan The Baabarian. Urinals overflowing. The salad days. A whole City and region in pussy whipped, stupid-pet-name-giving, mindless love with its NFL team. I got used to The Natural Order of Things.
Then some weird shit happened.
The universe, or Jehovah, or Jobu, or whatever, decided we’d done something apparently unforgivable. Here we are sixteen years later, and occurrences of finding Browns fans in Cleveland are now confused with catching coelacanth Lake Erie. It’s all Benmania and touchdown dances straight outta the defunct Traxx Bar, and Cleveland is Appalachia. What the hell happened? Were these Appalachian Inbred assholes always here, like fucking pod aliens chillin’ in the swimming pool in the Aristocrat in Parma Heights, waiting for their signal from Wilfred Fucking Brimley and Brian Dennehy? Yeah, it’s goin’ out like that that. Who do you think I am, Gene Autry? I curse to get my point across. Or is loyalty really that cheap in this era of fan free agency? Or maybe we’ve just been through too much in The Cleveland Experience ™ ? Think about years since we last saw Bernie as The Rubber Band Man doing the Denver Trifecta of heartbreak:
1990 – One of the most beloved teams in Cleveland Sports history crumbles like an Irwin Allen Movie.
1991 – 1993 - One of the most obnoxious personalities in Cleveland sports history not named “Stepien” or “Lane” does his level best to piss everyone off and summarily cut every fan favorite classlessly, all while compiling a losing record.
1994 – In the only decent season Bill Belichick had in Cleveland, the revisionist genius gets swept by the Appalachians. These ass kickings included a manhood taking playoff embarrassment where his retroactive genius ass was out-coached by a then-pubescent Bill Cowher.
1995 – Art Modell, uh, moves the franchise with no public warning. That shit don’t happen every day. Oh, Sucklers come within a pube hair of the title in the 1996 game for the 1995 season.
1996 – I spent every Sunday at the Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond, and keeping my altered restrictor plates on the down low from my wife. No Muni Lot. No Muni. No run to the KFC. There was a near riot at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies with BFWWN against Tagliabue I participated in, but that was it.
1997 & 1998 – Mister Ed removes the asterisk from his name and takes his place with the all-time greats, ensuring that my children’s children can see that damn ball juuuuuuuuust making it over Big Daddy’s outstretched hand. Why couldn’t he have been Chris Pike?
1999 – Browns: The Next Generation are born!! Whoo hoo!! We get over on The NFL Man and get an expansion team instead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moving here! Tim Couch will be our Joe Montana in San Francisco east! Quarterback Guru! Corey Fuller says playoffs in year one! Drew Carey’s here! 43 – 0, Pittsburgh, national TV. Fuck.
2000 – The unthinkable happens. The Modell Ravens destroy everything in their path through the playoffs on the way to a blow out win in the 2001 Super Bowl. Somehow, the sun rises on January 29, 2001, and the Book of Revelations is not yet fulfilled. I know I went to confession on January 27th.
2001 – Bill Belichick wins his first title on a last second field goal, thereby separating his legacy from Marv Levy by three feet. See also, Book of Revelations’ take above. I try face-to-face confession, just to be sure I have my bases covered.
2002 – Browns to the playoffs! Oh my Gawd Butch Davis is a genius and a great leader of men! We’re blowing out Pittsburgh at home! Kelly Holcomb is Brian Sipe! Fuck. Al Lerner dies. Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl.
2003 & 2004 – We suck. Butch hyperventilates. Couch’s elbow explodes and he cries. Kelly Holcomb is Eric Zeier. Belichick gets another field goal, and then his blowout win. Canton, here comes Bill, everybody’s “good guy”, a Halberstam worthy icon, innovation heir to Paul Brown. Gosh, why did those wankers in Cleveland run that nice, young, thoughtful, misunderstood genius out of town anyway, asks our current offensive coordinator one year later, dissing his hometown fans for wondering why his own juggernaut offense was the seventh worst in the NFL? Forgetting, of course, that Bill was the first fired coach of the Baltimore franchise and had a losing record in Cleveland, and went out of his way to taste like bad room temperature oysters.
2005 – Ladies and Germs, I give you Mean Joe Psycho’s belated One for The Thumb, on the heels of the 41 – 0 Eve of Destruction, where Cleveland Browns Stadium was taken over by the Inbred pod bastards and decent hard core Browns’ fans were strangers in their own home they smoke and drink like Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. to fund. Randy Lerner almost lets Wardrobe Malfunction Guy tear apart the football operations staff after less than one year.
So after 16 long years of this shit, I am left to axe three exit questions: What the fuck did we do to deserve this? Will it ever end and can it possibly get worse, since it looks like the Appalachians are loaded for about a solid half-decade of true title contention? And being a Buckeye fan as well, does the whole Cleveland Experience thing mean that the Ohio State 2002 national championship season will shortly be exposed as the sports version of Capricorn One?
Is there any doubt that Thomas Paine was a Browns’ fan when he penned:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their home town football team; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. The Suckler Nation, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as The Lombardi Trophy should not be highly rated.”
I can only hope Tom was dropping science like Burr and P Diddy drop Hamiltons, like Mack dropped Lloyd, and one day when The Natural Order of Things returns we’ll remember who the summer soldiers were, and who Winslow’s Souljahs were. My message from old Tom: if you’re a Clevelander, an Ohioan anywhere, and sporting the black and gold gear now, enjoy this one for the thumb. Then rotate on it, bitches. Don’t ever think about coming back when the tide turns.