I did notice. And parts of my body remember more clearly than others.
I went to a great little Cleveland bar called Vaughan’s Pub in Chicago. A few friends were meeting there and we banked on having a nice day of cheap pizza and beverages.
One thing led to another and the Browns had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the final moments. The four of us had left our chairs and lined up, something like high school basketball players during the national anthem.
Hands on shoulders, mindlessly patting backs, rubbing necks, slapping shoulders, or whatever other expression of nervous energy we could possibly come up with. During a commercial break we talked of who would end up on whose back, who would be used as a vault for a mega high five, and whether or not we would blow this opportunity.
Each time the Browns converted a first down, there were more aggressive exhalations. The tension was so palpable you could smell it. Seriously, we were all so nervous we started sweating.
The fourth down conversion to Montario Hardesty put us into a near-frenzy. High fives were being thrown around, people started pacing, and we all agreed that in years past, someone would have dropped that pass.
Then, with 48 seconds left, Colt McCoy dropped back, pumped, and fired one to the right side of the end zone. Mohamed Massaquoi stretched out the money-makers, squeezed it, and when his second foot touched Earth, all hell broke loose.
Head slapping each other. Hugging friends and strangers alike. Incoherently screaming in peoples’ faces as they screamed back. Bodies were flying like rag dolls as Vaughan’s just about exploded.
None of us had even the slightest clue that there had been a flag until we saw the Browns lining up to kick from the 20.
Not cool, NFL.
On the bright side, we were able to re-freak due to the horse collar tackle and subsequent insane field position (side note, the new kickoff rule, which I hate, actually saved us there, as they’d have been five yards closer. Double side note, doesn’t every kicker/team EVER squib that kick? I digress).
So again, there we were. All four downs…pulsing, pacing, punching each other. Breath baited, fists clenched, eyes all but stapled open.
Upon the fourth down stop, it was re-chaos.
The Dawg Pound Dirty Dance found its way to Chicago. Vaughan’s got rowdy. Again.
Fast-forward to Monday. Many Browns fans are hungover from celebrating a crazy win. Knees and backs are sore from standing up in a bar for three hours. Scratches appear on shoulders from claw marks as someone almost fell down in the fray. My head still rings from the shoulder-to-jaw shot I caught during one of the celebrations.
An emotional high. A physical low.
I’m hoping to make that trade on a weekly basis.