Rossi: Longing for when 'Browns Week' mattered
It's part of aging, not necessarily growing up, to believe things were better when you were younger. It's rarely actually the case, though. Television is better now than it was two decades ago. The same goes for American cars, light bulbs, artificial turf, grocery stores and (astonishingly) Bruce Springsteen's songs.
Then there's the Cleveland Browns.
They're worse, and that's the worst.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said it well Tuesday. His squad is preparing to open the NFL season at home against the Browns. Nothing else should need to be said, though Tomlin could begin practice on Wednesday by noting it is the 710th day to pass since the Steelers have won in September.
Of course, Sunday the Browns will try to win at Heinz Field for the first time in 3,972 days.
Or for the second time ever.
The point here is not to have fun at the Browns expense, even if that's exactly what the Steelers have done since the late, great Chuck Noll retired. His Steelers teams won 25 of 46 games against his hometown team, leaving the all-time series at 50-34 in favor of the Browns in 1991.
Now the Steelers lead the series, 65-57 — and that doesn't count two playoff wins.
No wonder there aren't a lot of Pittsburghers talking about “Browns Week” like they do “Ravens Week” or “Bengals Week.” Even in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers rival any religion, it's tough to make the most out of a week that is all but guaranteed to end with the same result.
Tomlin suspects hot shot quarterback Johnny Manziel will see some snaps on Sunday afternoon.
It's been since Eric Metcalf was busting through the Steelers' coverage units at Municipal Stadium in the early 1990s that anybody in Pittsburgh was worried about the Browns.
Nobody seems worried about the 123rd regular-season rendition of the AFC's most battle-tested rivalry, either. Forget that there's only one great unit between these teams, that it's the Browns' defense, and that even Cleveland's unimposing passing attack is likely to luck into some success against the Steelers' leaky-creaky secondary.
Nope, the Steelers will win Sunday and be 1-0 headed into a short “Ravens Week.”
Well, OK, that's probably true.
What if it wasn't?
What if the Browns pulled the upset and positioned themselves to sweep the season series for the first time since Ronald Reagan occupied the Oval Office?
That wouldn't be so bad in the long run — not for the Turnpike Rivalry, anyway.
Pittsburghers have never needed their beloved Steelers less.
This is a most livable city that wows visitors with its arts, impresses companies with its green initiatives and stimulates its own with neighborhoods that are changing without losing their charms.
Enough with that Rust Belt city stuff, and please stop with the Steel Town references. Things here are different than other cities that industry abandoned.
Benefit from our amazing hospitals, numerous trails and unique boutiques. See our beautiful buildings in major movies. Dine and drink further down along East Carson Street than ever before. The freshmen who have enrolled at our universities and colleges know not of a decaying town that has only a great football team.
Not all cities' college freshmen can say that much. Those cities need more of a pick-me-up from their NFL teams than Pittsburghers do ours.
Truth is, we'd have more fun going forward if that pick-me-up came at the Steelers' expense.
Some cousins live just outside of Cleveland in the suburb of Shaker Heights. The ones I know best are older, and the age gap felt like more of a distance than those miles of turnpike between us. Still, we are rooted in Crafton, and when Bill Cowher was hired in 1992, I was thrilled that my Cleveland cousins' mom would tease her kids about the Steelers' coach being from our families' place in Pittsburgh.
One Cleveland cousin and I always made bets over the Steelers-Browns games. The prize was bragging during Christmas break and summer visits. If your team won, it was richer than the lotto payoff.
I just figured that always would be a part of life for a boy from Pittsburgh and a girl from Cleveland, but years of visits have passed since she bragged about the Browns.
In fact, she doesn't even mention them, and that's the worst.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
- Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
- Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice
- Memories of Steelers fan from Beaver Falls go beyond simple recall
- Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
- Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
- Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
- Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
- Steelers’ Brown arrives in style, vows to be ‘the best in the world’
- Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season