For the most part, all that I wanted to see on Super Bowl Sunday was two teams play a good football game. And the Packers and Steelers delivered. It came down to the final minutes, and kept my interest all night long.
Now, the only thing that I hope for going forward is that we’ll get to watch the Browns play in this game one of these days. Here are some random thoughts about the game from a random Browns fan.
I don’t hate the Steelers
I know plenty of my fellow Browns fans rooted hard against the Steelers, because they always root against the Steelers. They hate the Steelers. I don’t, even if I pretend to sometimes. I think Ben Roethlisberger is a bit of an unsavory character who has made some mistakes, but I also think that he is a great quarterback. Not just a good quarterback, but a great quarterback. And of course I find it annoying that a bunch of fair-weather Steelers fans came out of the woodwork for this game. But overall, I don’t even hate Pittsburgh fans. The truth is, they are dedicated and loyal fans that aren’t all that different from you and me. They are more spoiled, but that’s not their fault. And I have nothing but the greatest respect for the Steelers organization. They run a first-rate team with a classy head coach, and have always done it the right way. They are what the Browns should aspire to. So I don’t share in the hatred of the Steelers the way many of my counterparts do, unless they are playing the Browns. Perhaps it is because I grew up in an era in which the Pittsburgh-Cleveland rivalry has significantly diminished.
We need our Aaron Rodgers
The last eight quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl have been Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady (twice). You could argue that all of these guys were elite quarterbacks at the time. Since coming back into existence, the Browns have never had an elite quarterback. They have not had anything even close to an elite quarterback. But in today’s NFL, with such a premium on passing, they will need one if they are going to win a Super Bowl. Colt McCoy showed signs of being a good NFL quarterback in his rookie season. But will he ever be elite? Time will surely tell, but it won’t be good enough for him to be the next Carson Palmer, the next Donovan McNabb, or the next Chad Pennington. Good quarterbacks don’t win Super Bowls, great ones do.
Head coaches don’t matter that much
For all of you that were certain that the Browns needed to hire Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher, consider the fact that no head coach has ever won two Super Bowls with two different teams. Only a few (Mike Holmgren being one of them) have even been close to pulling it off. And last night, Mike McCarthy became the most recent coach to lead his team to glory. Mike McCarthy. This is a man that nobody considers to be an elite NFL head coach. A poor coaching decision can cost a team a game every now and then, but for the most part, the quality of players determines a team’s success. Pat Shurmur will probably give the Browns as good of a chance to win as Jon Gruden would have.
Getting to the Super Bowl won’t be enough
Not only have the Browns never won a Super Bowl, they have never even been to one. But I will not settle for just an appearance in the big game. It won’t really mean anything to me unless they win it. That’s the ultimate goal. Having lived through the Indians’ losses in the World Series in 1995 and 1997, and the Cavaliers’ quick exit from the NBA Finals in 2007, I gain little satisfaction from second place. And the friends that I have that are Steelers fans confirmed that for me last night. Being a part of the Super Bowl would be memorable, but winning it would be legendary.
When we win, it will mean more to us than it would have to anybody else
It will happen someday, Cleveland. I believe it. I just hope that I live long enough to see it. And when it does happen, it will very likely be the greatest moment of our lives. Even a World Series title wouldn’t compare to what the Browns could do for this city if they were to win the Super Bowl. We’re obsessed with football, and we live and die with the Browns. We died a little with “The Drive,” a little more with “The Fumble,” and a lot after the move. But we still show up every Sunday in subzero temperatures on the shore of a windy lake to root for our perennial 5-11 team. Last year, when the Saints won, I will never forget how much it meant to the people of New Orleans. Residents of that city have been through much more than the ultimately meaningless sports “disasters” that we have endured. But when Cleveland wins it, it will be at least as sweet. Because we have survived so many near misses, so much heartache, and so much disappointment. And yet we keep coming back. We keep asking for more. It has come to the point that we almost expect to be let down. You could feel it in the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena during Game 5 of the Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series last year. The feeling that a collapse was inevitable. But someday, we won’t be let down. Someday, our team will prevail. And on that day, the wait will surely have been worth it.