FanPost

"Go Root For Buffalo" and What This Week Means to Me

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Time to focus on next Sunday. I’ve been dying for this week, probably more than others. If this post is too long and personal I do apologize – but this Sunday will be quite an emotional time for me, and time to let it all out. There is a term in threads here I’ve seen a few times on Dawgs By Nature - "Go Root For Buffalo." Without digging too deep, I surmise it’s a term aimed at someone who is complaining about the Browns on DBN and how frustrating it sometimes gets, and in translation means "if you don’t like it, go root for an even worse team up Lake Erie." If I’m wrong in my assumption, I would love to know its true meaning.

I split my loyalties between these two storied franchises. My parents both recently passed, but what they left me with in addition to a great upbringing, was a loyalty and undying passion for both football teams. These were two people that were best friends and had a remarkable relationship that anyone would envy. And through the years, (when the Browns and Bills were not playing each other) they were equally in support and became fans of both teams.

I now reside in Columbus, Ohio but am originally from Buffalo, NY where my mother was born and raised, and my father is from Cleveland. My father played Tight End and Punter (lol) at Rhodes and after Kent State my father settled in Buffalo (yes, there used to be jobs there). My dad was a diehard passionate Browns fan that used to sit in the bleachers at Cleveland Stadium as a kid, saw Jim Brown’s first game, and witnessed eight glorious titles. My mother, was a diehard Bills fan had season tickets to Bills games with her father, witnessed back to back AFL championships in ’64 and ’65, and four Super Bowl appearances in a row. So they both truly got to see all the good and all of the bad.

So here I come into the world. I’ve seen baby pictures with both Browns and Bills jammies on (Buckeyes too). That should be your first clue of the torture I’ve endured through the course of my life. I say "torture" but it’s really love. Growing up, I realized I had not one insane side of the family, but two. Sundays were a ritual – church then hurry home to the tube! By the time I was five I was glued to the TV with them on Sunday’s. (It was probably from birth, but five is my first cognitive memory of football). My man cave now is a sea of Browns and Bills (and Buckeyes), and Sunday’s without fail continue to be a wonderful ritual, with the added bonus of fantasy football!

My grandmother in Cleveland had a rare spinal disorder when she was in her mid-20’s and had very limited mobility (kind of like Bernie – sorry Oma!). We would trek to Cleveland about every other weekend to visit her in the 70’s and 80’s. So during football seasons, my dad and his side of the family had the Cleveland home field advantage from time to time to attempt to mold my mind and loyalty. So I’m stuck in the middle. I had cousins pulling me aside telling me how much better it was to be a Browns fan, more tradition, better city…on and on and on. Christmas gifts included Browns regalia without fail. I would get "jokingly" brutalized at school when on certain days I chose to wear Browns gear. So it was difficult to choose sides and I really didn’t. As I got older, I realized how similar my families were in "nature" although separated by 200 miles. These are two similar, Lake Erie rust-belt blue-collar cities, hard working people, and insanely passionate football fans with a little chip on their shoulders.

The days in the late 80’s and early 90’s around high school and college were obviously both glorious and tortuous at the same time for me. From 1986 to 1993 either the Browns or Bills were in the AFC Championship game EVERY year during that stretch. Without bringing up the specifics of the Browns nightmares we are well versed on here, on the Bills side there were four lost Super Bowls…in a row, wide-right, yada yada yada.

The most difficult game for me was the 1989 Divisional Playoff at Cleveland Stadium, pure torture (but I would kill for that kind of playoff torture now for both teams). Couldn’t both teams win? So on that final Bills drive as Jim Kelly is marching them down the field I had this pit in my stomach. I can remember as clear as day the thought running through my mind I had when Kelly launched that pass to Ronnie Harmon in the back corner of the end zone – "catch it, don’t catch it, catch, it, don’t catch it!!!" And he didn’t, Browns win. So happy, so sad. SERENITY NOW!!!

The funniest thing I ever remember my dad saying that brought out his "Cleveland" in him wasn’t even during a Browns game – it was the 1988 AFC Championship between the Bills and Bengals in Cincinnati. The Bills were blowing it, and I think it might have been after a Kelly interception. Dad (in reference to PA native Kelly) said: "In the name of God, send that shit-kicker back to Pennsylvania!" Some of my friends that were at my house that day still bring that quote up from time to time. And thank you dad for teaching me to demonize the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a man who constantly reminded me of their futility from 1933 to 1972 and who introduced the terms bandwagon, Yinzer, Stoolers, and Shittsburgh to me…..and shit-kicker as noted above.

Honestly, I could go on and on and on with stories about football, the Bills, the Browns, my families, and the love and passion my parents brought to me for these teams and these cities but I will spare you more of the minutiae. But this is where I’m coming from this week.

I will be making the trek from Columbus on Sunday, with a few Browns fans and there’s also a contingent of my friends coming down from Buffalo. I plan on honoring my parents this way: Quarters 1 and 4 I will be wearing my Bernie Kosar jersey. Quarters 2 and 3 I will be wearing my Jim Kelly jersey - although I think my parents would prefer Otto Graham and Jack Kemp! I’m bound to be pelted with Dawg Bones (and quite possibly deservedly so) in the middle frames. So if you happen to be at the game and see some jackass switching jerseys, don’t throw a bone, raise a glass. (Or throw a bone and then raise a glass). And I will raise a glass to the sky, count my blessings, and tell mom and dad thanks for the football loyalties, the love, and the memories.

One final note: as an Ohio resident, my Browns license plate proudly beams "KOSAR." Nope, never giving it up so sorry "Bernie19Kosar" and any other DBN’ers with similar Bernie monikers wishing someday to acquire this coveted personalized Browns plate!

So, "Go Root For Buffalo?" OK, but only half of me will.

This is a fan-created post. Dawgs By Nature assumes no responsibility for the content listed.

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