The Browns won last week. Seriously. You're eyes weren't tricking you.
YES, IT'S TRUE. As you get older, your eyesight does seem to diminish. But not like this. Then again, perhaps this may be just a sign of things to come? You see, I'm trying very hard to understand what I thought I had just seen, but uncontrollable excitement always seems to get in the way and I find myself lulling in a world of dreams as questions drift far and wide from being answered. Here's an account of what I'm experiencing.
Watching the tube, my conscious seemed to deny what my eyes had just seen. It was as if these aged peepers have been trying to tell me, "You're hallucinating, grandpa. You look as if you're suffering from involuntary delusions of grandeur … great, great, great grandeur. These are the Browns you're watching, not the World Champion Baltimore Ravens who used to be the Browns. Now shake it off and get back to watching the rest of the game!"
Nevertheless, when I turned my eyes back toward the TV, there was third string quarterback, Brian Hoyer, a local boy who grew up rooting for Bernie Kosar and yesteryear's Cleveland Browns, leading my beloved present day Browns to victory. And all this after experiencing a week unlike the fans have seen since Art Modell picked up and moved the franchise to Crab Cake Country along the shores of the Chesapeake.
First string Quarterback Brandon Weeden had been placed on injured reserve because of a sprained thumb. Instead of starting the next logical choice against the Minnesota Vikings, second string quarterback Jared Campbell, our rookie coach Rob Chudzinski, who also rooted for the Browns as a young lad, gave the nod to third string QB Hoyer.
On top of that, running back Trent Richardson, a second year starter who was a first round selection in the draft, was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick next year. That's when the fans seemed to go berserk. There hadn't been this much animosity directed toward the front office due to losing a fan favorite player since Kosar was cut by Belichick in '93 for having "diminishing skills."
When heard he was starting, Hoyer began living the dream of his lifetime. There's no doubt he copied from another starting QB, his boyhood hero Kosar. With 55 seconds left and losing by three, he threw a touchdown pass deep into the corner of the end zone to tight end Jordan Cameron. In doing so, he placed the Browns on the brink of their first season win. When Cameron caught the ball, bedlam broke loose, not in Minnesota's Metrodome, but rather just north of us in the city by the lake. I know. Its area of reverberation included and shook the entire Portage Lakes.
Our Black lab, Sadie Lou, went bananas every time Hoyer threw the ball. It was as if she knew something special would be happening long before we did.
"You know, Sadie Lou senses what's gonna happen," my wife, Peggy, said. For years Peggy had been asking me to turn to her and the dog for my annual predictions. "Now that they've captured an improbable win, I suppose this means you'll be sticking your neck out asking me and the dog to predict this year's outcome?"
"Better than that," I answered. "I'll be heading deep into the eastern foothills of the Appalachians; into the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau back in central Pennsylvania. It's where I always go to discover what the future holds for us. I need to check with two of my three pigskin experts. I'll be home Wednesday. Wanna come along, Sadie Lou?"
And away we drove.
Pulling into the parking area of the long driveway, we stared at a log cabin that sat way back from civilization. On the covered porch of the home sat two of the three Moore brothers. The oldest one, Knusum, chewed a wad and rocked back and forth in his home made chair. The middle brother, Knosum, chewing on the end of a long piece of timothy grass, stood in the back with his one foot propped against the cabin wall. Their youngest brother, Telsum, was in the barn slopping the hogs and feeding the horses.
Sadie Lou and I approached the porch, and before we could greet them, Knusum volunteered, "Kinda 'spected youse'd show up, I did. Ain't 'at right, Knosum?"
Nodding his head, Knosum continued chewing the timothy. "Soon's I seen the score I up'n sayed to the other two that youse'll be along in time. 'N' 'at's right 'bout tha time Telsum left fer tha barn. Ain't 'at right, Knosum?" Giving a slight nod, his brother continued working the timothy while staring straight out into the wide open spaces.
Ignoring Sadie Lou and me, Pork Chop, an aging blood hound, cut Zs as she soundly slept near the feet of Knusum. "Ya want me and my brudders ta perdict how yer Brownies is gonna do now, don'tcha? Jist so youse can tell yer readers," Knusum said in his best English.
"Well, I'ma gonna tell ya sumthin', ma friend," he continued while he chewed and rocked. "'Member back in oh seven when yer tribe made the playoffs? I recollected they'd go all tha way 'at year, 'n' they missed, they did. An' afta 'at I perdicted LeBron would re-sign wit' da Cavs and he didn't, he didn't. 'N' way afore 'at, my brudders and me gots our heads tagedder and sayed the new Brownies in ninety-nine would win tha big prize, but they fell flat on their faces, they did," he reminded me as I painfully recalled that first year back.
"Since all they do is tha 'zact opposite o' what I perdict they's gonna do, I's beginning' ta feel like a bad luck piece. Never had such a string o' failures like 'at 'til youse two come 'long," he said. "But, I'ma gonna stick out my neck once more fer ya, but this heer is tha lass time. I'ma gonna say this year's Brownies will…"
Suddenly he was interrupted by a loud crash of thunder, a bolt of lightning and a torrential downpour. "Ain'ta gonna go on no more," he told me. "'Em football gods ina big stadium ina sky ain'ta bit happy youse and yer hound is being here 'n' forcing a perdiction outta me. 'N' when ya git as wise as we is, it ain't too smart ta fool tha football gods. So I think maybe it might be best if you'da jist be on yer way." And into the cabin the two brothers and Pork Chop ran, leaving Sadie Lou and me standing in the downpour.
Back home, my wife, Peggy, quizzed me as to what happened.
"Well, Sweety, telling would take all the fun out of the season," I told her, trying to save face by not letting her know I failed. "Like the fun we had on Sunday watchin' our Brownies. Let's face it, we haven't enjoyed a game like that in years. You don't want that to stop in our golden years, now, do you?" I was going for a ten in recovery, or as close to one as I could get.
As if she knew exactly what we were talking about, Sadie Lou, growled my way and ran to the wife. "Good girl," Peggy said to the mutt. "He thinks we don't know he's ferhoodling us, but we know better, don't we Sadie Lou. Something happened in those foothills that he's not saying. He probably failed to get a prediction and is too embarrassed to tell us, but who cares? Someday," she said, "he'll learn and turn to you and me for all the sports insights he needs. After all, you've never been wrong with any of the questions I've ask."
Sadie Lou gave one quick bark, one swift wag of her tail and snuggled up next to the wife. Probably just her way of saying she couldn't agree more.
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