When Davone Bess dropped an important pass for the Cleveland Browns after fumbling an important punt return in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, a guy who had always been sure-handed before being traded to Cleveland where he’s now the second coming of Braylon Edwards, many fans wondered something they have asked several times over recent years; do the Football Gods hate Cleveland? Well, Browns fans, I hate to say it, but yes they do.
You might scoff at this idea. “Why would the Football Gods hate us? Why would there be some sort of jinx? Was the stadium built on top of an ancient Native American landfill? Are they mad about the firing of Paul Brown? Wouldn’t Art Modell have taken the curse with him to Baltimore? Do the Baltimore Ravens seem cursed? They’re the Super Bowl champs!” No, this curse has nothing to do with Paul Brown. But it does go back to the post-Brown era, back to 1964 and a deal made with the mob.
In December 1964, the Browns hosted the Baltimore Colts for the NFL Championship game. The Colts were 12-2 and expected to win easily. The Colts had Johnny Unitas. The Browns had Frank Ryan. (Out of respect, please pause a second before asking “Who?”) The Colts offense was unstoppable; their defense was impenetrable! This was sure to be a massacre.
Now, this was just after Christmas and the Football Gods had been forced to spend a lot of money on their spoiled kids. Everything was The Beatles, The Beatles, The Beatles after the group’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of that year. Records, clothes and lunchboxes … it all added up. So here comes this game and guess what? The Browns were only getting seven points! How could the Football Gods not bet on the Colts? It was free money! So they pooled all of their families’ savings together and placed a bet with Big Carmine, a local bookie for the Mayfield Road Gang.
So what happened? Unitas threw for only 95 yards and the Browns won 27-0, all 27 points coming in the second half. The sporting world was shocked. The Football Gods couldn’t believe it.
Now in deep with the mob, not to mention at home with their wives for squandering the family money, the Football Gods were put through the wringer. One Football God, not to be named, didn’t have relations with his wife for six months! That’s a lot of cold showers, my friends. It was awful.
Disgraced, the Football Gods formed a pact: The Browns would never win another championship. (Apparently, the baseball gods and the basketball gods decided to join in. Some Sports God fraternity code or something.) As a matter of fact, they decided the team wouldn’t even play in another league championship game. (The Basketball/Baseball Gods, thankfully, wouldn’t take it that far.)
For three decades, they got their wish. A couple of times Cleveland got close … but … John Elway drove the length of the field to score a touchdown with 23 seconds remaining; Ernest Byner got stripped just as he was about to cross the goal line for the game-winning touchdown.
They poured it on by making the awful Pittsburgh Steelers repeat champions. It was revenge at its finest. But then came the ultimate stab to the heart of Browns fans: The gods had Modell move their beloved team … to Baltimore! Then they let the guy win a Super Bowl! It was perfect!
That, my friends, is the true explanation for Dwayne Rudd‘s helmet, Tim Couch‘s tears and Kellen Winslow‘s motorcycle. That’s why in Week 5, as Brian Hoyer was just getting this team turned around, his cleat got “stuck” in the turf and his season was ended.
So, Browns fans, no you’re not simply crazy people who are too emotionally invested in your favorite sports team. There really are Football Gods. They really do hate your Cleveland Browns.