The Browns advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 18 years thanks to a 24-22 victory over the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
As you might imagine, the Browns and their fans are pretty darn thrilled about this development. Also, as you might have expected, Steelers fans are giving them a hard time for this feeling of satisfaction.
Did you know the Browns’ players were photographed wearing unofficial t-shirts signifying that they clinched a postseason spot as the sixth seed? If you did, you probably made fun of that, too. Not only did Cleveland simply clinch a wildcard berth, but it also defeated a Steelers squad that was resting several key players, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the straw that almost always stirs the drink whenever he plays a game at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Come on, why are you making fun of the Browns and their fans? Is it because we don’t celebrate playoff appearances in Steeler Nation (even though we absolutely should)? Is it because you’re feeling a little upset that Cleveland won a game against a skeleton crew, and you just need to lash out?
Don’t do that. It’s as silly as smugly asking “How many Super Bowls does your team have?” the second someone else’s squad wins a Lombardi for the first time. A fan of a team that just won something doesn’t give a flying frick about counting Super Bowl rings at that moment. That’s a defense mechanism by the scorned fan. All fans of all teams do this, even Yankees fans—God’s chosen fans.
Believe me, as a long-suffering Pirates fan, you have no idea how much I cherish the small things. For example, the Buccos, who had gone 20-straight seasons without even finishing .500, not only clinched a winning record in 2013, but they also claimed a wildcard playoff berth. You would have thought they won the World Series by the way they were hooting and hollering in the clubhouse as the champagne flowed freely. As for me, I spent the night texting back and forth with a few family members who suffered for years right alongside me. A week or so later, the Pirates advanced all the way to the NLDS after a thrilling 6-2 victory over the Reds in the NL Wildcard Game at PNC Park. I wore my Pirates jersey to bed that night. Not a t-shirt, mind you, a jersey. That’s right, a 41-year old man wore a baseball jersey to bed because he was so darn happy.
Everyone has one of those teams that they root for, a franchise that’s always on the wrong side of luck and competence. If you don’t, you must be one of those bandwagon fans whose Twitter profile reads: “Love my Steelers, Alabama Crimson Tide, Lakers, Dodgers and Duke basketball.”
The Browns and their fans have suffered for a long time. Chances are, they’ll suffer some more after Pittsburgh’s regulars take them outside and show them what it’s really like in the wildcard game at Heinz Field next Sunday night.
The Steeler fan in me knows this will be the outcome, but the Pirates fan in me can’t help but think about how thrilled the Browns and their fans are right now.
Give them their time. Franchises like the Browns don’t have many moments, and their fans must cling to whatever great memories that they bring them.