On a previous episode of Rumors and Rants, we held a televised YouTube debate on what was the most accursed sports town in America. Our conclusion was that the city of Buffalo held this distinction in a slight edge over Cleveland. However, in a much-less read follow-up, we also ruled that this matter was up for future debate pending any new sporting disasters.
And before the year was even over, the city of Cleveland provided us with one. Despite having a record good enough to win their division, the star-crossed Cleveland Browns have managed to go from the team no one wants to run into in the playoffs to not even qualifying for them. And retracing the steps that slammed the door on their faces makes it all the more painful — so painful that I’m willing to give Cleveland a temporary lead in the race for America’s Most Tortured Sports City.
– With two games remaining, all the Browns needed for a playoff berth was to beat their not-so-feared rivals, the Bengals. They managed to wet the bed on that one, but not without losing in an agonizing manner. The Browns drove down the field for a potential game-winning pass as time expired, but Derek Anderson’s throw fell harmlessly in the end zone, far from the reach of anybody.
And by losing to the Bengals in Week 15 rather than the 49ers in Week 16, the wheels were set in motion for a difficult to comprehend tiebreaker scenario that put Tennessee in the driver’s seat for the final playoff spot. Still, that was asking a lot, since the Titans had to go on the road and beat the Colts…
– I can imagine the anticipation with which Browns fans watched the final Sunday Night Football game of the year. Praying that the Colts would keep their starters in. Hoping that the impotent Titans offense would be unable to put the ball in the end zone.
Then, seeing the ultimate dream come true… is that… yes it is… Kerry Collins entering the game! We’re going to San Diego! A game against Norv Turner! Second round, here we come! Wait… is that… noooo! The Colts have put in Jim Sorgi. Give me another beer. Or keg.
(Trust me, there is nothing more shattering than seeing Jim Sorgi come into a game. When I played my friend in Madden ’06 the day it came out, I chose to be the Colts. On the second play of the game, Peyton Manning was injured and I had to go with Sorgi for the rest of the game. Needless to say, I was irate. And got slaughtered.)
– On top of all that, there is a kicker -and we don’t mean Phil Dawson. All it would have taken to win the AFC North was a win over the most hated rivals of all, the Steelers. Just one. Instead, Pittsburghers get another year of making fun of Cleveland to put in their back pocket.