warning: occasional adult language
My phone rang on Sunday afternoon.
I didn't need to look at the caller ID on my cell to know who was calling or why. It was my "friend" Al, Green Bay Packer fan extraordinaire, calling to laugh at me about how the Eagles game went. He talked shit about T-Rich, I questioned-not for the first time- why I was listening to trash talk from a man who picked his favorite team out of the blue in 2000 and has never been to Wisconsin, let alone Green Bay, and so it went. But near the end of this delightful conversation, he asked a question. The question.
"How long are you gonna put up with this? You're not from Cleveland, so is it worth it to stick with these losers forever?"
After I called him an asshole and hung up, I sat down and really thought out that question. I mean, IS it worth it to slavishly root for a team, devote time and money and emotion to a franchise that may never reward it? Normally, I'd just say "yes, you stay loyal to your team or you're just a douchebag bandwagon jumper", and just leave it at that. But I was reminded of something a friend told me a while back.
Jason Quills was a great guy. The life of the party, the guy who put stuff together and got everyone involved. He was from Chicago originally and loved all the teams from the Windy City, but none as much as his Cubs. Man was a fanatic for the Small Bears.
Jason was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago. He barely lasted 10. About two weeks before he passed, he threw himself a going away party. I know that sounds like it'd be incredibly creepy and awkward but Jason was the kinda guy who could pull off what was essentially a funeral for someone who wasn't dead yet. Near the end of the night I was talking to him alone, and we got to talking about sports, as we often did. I asked about the Cubs, he said " I gotta say, if I could see one thing before I go, I wish I could've seen them win the fricken Series, just once. Stupid curse is gonna outlive me, isn't that some bullshit?"
I've thought about that alot since that night. The man was a Cubs fan for 32 years and left this mortal coil without ever getting the big payoff all fans yearn for. So, were those wasted years? Is it smart to keep yelling "GO Browns" when the possibility looms that I could still be waiting for that Super Bowl till they put me in a box?
I don't really have an answer for that. But as I think about it I remember the Angels. I've been a fan of the Los Angeles (nee Anaheim, nee California) Angels sine I was 7. I spent my entire childhood wanting to see them win a Championship..hell, just MAKE IT to the World Series. And I remember how I felt in 2002 when they did.
It was rapturous. It's ridiculous to say, since c'mon, its only sports and its not like I play for the team...but it felt incredible. It was ABSOLUTELY worth the years of suffering and wondering" are we ever gonna do this?". I felt the same thing just recently when the Kings won the Stanley Cup and the bar I was in nearly broke into a riot.
So, all I can conclude is frankly, I don;t know if it's worth it to risk being a fan of a team that might bury you before you see the Big One. But I DO know that if/when you do get to see that day, the wait just makes it all the sweeter.
So my fellow Browns backers, I said all that to say: hang in there..and imagine burning down a city while we party with our Super Bowl Champion Browns someday. I can;t wait to see you there.