Hating On Cleveland Is Way Too Easy

Only Sign of Life in Cleveland

I hate the Browns.

Being born and raised in Pittsburgh, the mere mention of the name “Cleveland” has made my blood boil for as long as I can remember. I hate Cleveland. My father hates Cleveland. My three uncles, two aunts, four cousins, and sweet grey-haired grandmother all hate Cleveland, too.

The damn thing is, I don’t know why.

Don’t yell at me and don’t threaten to revoke my membership to Steeler Nation. Just hear me out. All our lives we’ve been conditioned to hate Cleveland. We’ve been told they’re the mortal enemy. We’ve been told the Browns and the Steelers are one of the great rivalries in all of sports.

Well, let’s look at some other great rivalries. Red Sox-Yankees. Lakers-Celtics. Ohio State-Michigan. Maple Leafs-Canadiens. Hmmm… You know what they all have in common? The rivalry usually involves two equally prestigious franchises who are competing for a championship. The Yankees prevented the Sox from reaching the Series and prolonged the Curse until recent years when the tables have turned. OSU and Michigan often stood in each other’s way of a #1 ranking. The Lakers and Celtics met in the NBA finals five times. Toronto and Montreal dominated the NHL for over a decade, trading Lord Stanley’s Cup between themselves.

What championship has Cleveland ever cost Pittsburgh? When have the lowly Browns ever stood in the way of our mighty Steelers? How are they even remotely considered to be on the same level? I can’t remember one crucial game between the two teams which was won by the Browns. Oh, they gave it a shot a few years ago in a Wild Card playoff game but the rifle-arm heroics of QB Tommy Maddox prevented any disruption in the natural order of things.

I once read that the Pittsburgh Pirates are desperate to get the Cleveland Indians declared their “natural rival” so they can be sure to play them every season. I don’t understand this at all. I mean, I understand there are only so many cheap bobbleheads and 80’s hair bands they can bring to PNC Park to entice people to go and watch what is laughingly called a major league baseball team but why would even the most diehard yinzer fall for this? What is there to hate about the Indians? They’ve admittedly fared better than the Pirates in recent years but that’s like challenging a group of retarded kids to a chess match and then bragging when you beat them. And it’s not like the Indians have really accomplished much of anything recently. Their last World Series win was back in 1948 and they haven’t made it to October since 1954. At least the Buccos can say they won titles in 1960, 1971, and 1979.

Cleveland doesn’t have an NHL franchise and we don’t have an NBA team so we’ll call that a push. Except their Cleveland Cavaliers have been around since 1970 and won a grand total of ZERO titles while our Penguins have won twice. Technically, the score in professional basketball championships is actually Pittsburgh – 1 Cleveland – 0 as the Pittsburgh Pipers won the ABA (American Basketball Association) championship way back in 1967 and might have won it again in 1969 had they signed sharpshooting free agent point guard Jackie Moon.

The more I think about it, the less sense this whole “rivalry” with Cleveland makes. The Steelers won 5 Super Bowls and made the playoffs 12 of the last 15 years. The Browns are among only a handful of NFL teams to never appear in a Super Bowl and didn’t even have a team 12 of the last 15 years. Their franchise was moved to Baltimore, a city known as one of the most crime and drug-infested in the entire country. How bad is your city when that seems like an attractive alternative? We’ve had a line of great quarterbacks from Terry Bradshaw to Kordell Stewart to Ben Roethlisberger. They’ve had Bernie Kosar, Vinny Testaverde, and Charlie Frye. We had the Emperor Chuck Knoll. They had Bill Belichick and his entire A/V Club of Doom and still couldn’t win anything. We have the Terrible Towel and the most loyal fanbase in the entire NFL. They have a bunch of drunken buffoons in latex German Shepard masks. About the only thing we have in common is neither team has cheerleaders. For the Steelers, it’s a statement that our fans don’t need anybody enticing them to cheer. For the Browns, it’s due to the simple fact you can’t find 12 attractive women in Cleveland.

You may read this article and think I’m being overly harsh on Cleveland. You may even think some of these shots are of the cheap variety. However, that is honestly not my intent. I’m not trying to bash the people of Cleveland. Lord knows living there is enough of a cross to bear. No, the purpose of this post is to actually put the rivalry to rest. Sure, it will still be fun to play (and beat) them twice a year but let’s not do it with hatred in our hearts.  We should save that for those who really deserve it.

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