Art Modell died early today, and that will dredge up a lot of memories – the bad far overshadowing the good – in my hometown of Cleveland. The Plain Dealer had it right that Modell was “forever vilified” after moving the Browns to Baltimore.
I had long since left Cleveland when Modell moved the team in 1996, so the experience wasn’t as bitter for me as it was for others. But it still gets under my skin.
I also found it a great irony that Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore, which itself had its primary franchise — the Colts — ripped from the hearts of its fans. One awful move begetting another.
Neither city deserved what happened, and Clevelanders deserve better than what the New Browns have given them. But at least they have a team.
At a measly 36 inches on the diagonal, the low-def television set in our family room is simply too pathetic for me even to begin thinking about inviting people over to watch the Super Bowl.
Our Toshiba is a hand-me-down from my brother. He gave it to us when he moved overseas back in 2001, when Tom Brady was in his second season with the Patriots and Eli Manning was making his mark at Ole Miss.
The TV darn near broke my back when I hauled it out of my brother’s New York City apartment and ‘rassled it down the stairs to our family room in New Jersey. Muscle spasms aside, seeing that 36″ screen was a thrill for somebody whose earliest television memory is of watching a modest black- and-white Admiral catch fire right as Mary Martin came onscreen in “Peter Pan” back in 1960.
The Admiral was replaced by a Zenith (“The quality goes in before the name goes on”), which was to be the set on which I would watch the first football game I can remember. That was the 1964 NFL championship game, in which my Dad and I watched the Cleveland Browns defeat the Baltimore Colts. Even that childhood TV experience was cut short. Electronic “snow” filled the screen late in the fourth quarter as the sun set and we lost the signal from the Toledo station carrying the game.
Although I’m sure it happened a few times, I’m hard pressed to remember watching a Super Bowl in my own home. It seems we’ve always been guests at the home of somebody with a bigger, more manly set. At a co-worker’s place in Omaha as Da Bears won Super Bowl XX. At the home of friends in the Bay Area as the Packers took Super Bowl XXXI. And so on.
This year, we’ll again beg the gracious hospitality of friends across town who have an HD set so big that it’s measured in meters. Wes Welker will appear actual size. And I’ll sit there in a comfy chair, goggle-eyed at the spectacle of punts and pixels, knowing that my TV is today and will be forever too lame to afford me the pleasure of walking over to my own refrigerator for a beer during the big game.
Posted in Football, TV
Tagged Baltimore Colts, broadcasting, Cleveland Browns, Eli Manning, New England Patriots, New York Giants, Ole Miss, Super Bowl, Super Bowl XX, Super Bowl XXXI, television, Tom Brady, TV
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The Baltimore Ravens thrashed the New England Patriots today in the NFL playoffs 33-14 in a lopsided game in frigid Foxboro, Mass. I’m having a hard time getting interested in the playoffs, and runaway games don’t do much to lure me in.
It’s obvious that the Patriots’ dominating run is over as they’ve succumbed to age, injuries and bad breaks. Not that I care. Years have passed and I’m still ticked off about the blown call that helped the Pats defeat the Raiders one snowy night in 2002.
As for the Ravens, it’s nice to see one of the non-elite franchises advance. I have mixed feelings about this one, however.
The Ravens were wrestled away from Cleveland by the petulant Art Modell. Although he no longer owns the team and the last ex-Browns player on the roster is long gone, I have not been able to get behind the Ravens.
Counterbalancing that franchise move is the travesty of how the Colts were ripped from Baltimore in the middle of the night for a move to Indianapolis.
Wrong is wrong is wrong.
So I hereby bury the hatchet with the Ravens and wish them and Coach John Harbaugh (above) well next week. May they kick the Colts in the keister.
The Thursday night game between the Redskins and Giants notwithstanding, today marks the real kickoff to the 2008 National Football League season. In celebration, I took my natty corduroy Cleveland Browns cap out into the warm California sun for a morning portrait.
Classic Cleveland Browns corduroy cap
I call this a classic Browns cap because it dates not from the present franchise but from the last years of the old Browns, the team that the sinsister Art Modell carted off to Baltimore to become the dead-to-me Ravens.
The original Browns started in the All American Football Conference that was folded into the NFL in the early 1950s. My early childhood centered on baseball, and football didn’t enter my consciousness until early grade school. In fact, my earliest pro football memory is of the day of the 1964 championship game in which the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts (another team that would ultimately and appallingly be wrenched from the hearts of its fans). The game was blacked out on television in Cleveland, so my dad sent me to the attic to move our antenna around so we could catch the game on a Toledo station.
The demise of the old Browns roughly coincided with my move to California, where I’ve since attached my primary allegiance to the San Francisco 49ers and, given a few beers and the right opponent, the Oakland Raiders. I have not bonded with the new Browns, but should they advance to the playoffs, I’ll be pulling for them hard. And yeah, I want them to crush the Dallas Cowboys today.
In the meantime, I reserve my Browns cap mainly for the winter months, always hoping for the delightful contrast of white snowflakes settling on its rich brown bill.
Posted in Football
Tagged All American Football Conference, Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Ravens, childhood, Cleveland, Cleveland Browns, corduroy, Dallas Cowboys, Football, National Football League, New York Giants, NFL, pro football, snow, Washington Redskins, winter