As a native to northeast Ohio, Cleveland has been my city to defend and believe in. Given the current state of our national sports teams and struggling economy, upholding the optimism has proven to be a bit difficult. Relocating to an outlying suburb of Denver, Colorado didn’t ease the burden, either.
All my life, I’ve never been a football fan. The rules change, overlap and just down right don’t make sense to a newcomer. But my man friend is enthralled by the game. So being the nice and caring lady friend that I am, I allowed him to attempt to teach me the sport. He failed, somewhat miserably, albeit garnering success in sparking my interest to continue to learn.
What does a student do when he/she needs information? Turn to Wikipedia, of course. I spent the better portion of a workweek reading wiki article after NFL stat sheet, hoping to at least walk away with the minimum amount of understanding.
The real test came that weekend, when the Broncos (reminder: I’m out in Colorado) played the New England Patriots. What an adventure that was! Holed up in the college town sports bar, surrounded by the various Broncos die-hards, I sat down to watch my first-ever football game from start to finish.
Surprisingly, I kept up with the events of the game at a decent pace. From time to time I did succumb to my naivety and would ask the nearly-blitzed patron next to me to explain the refs’ calls between sips of his $1 Coors. Needless to say, it still remained a mystery. As the chances of winning declined for the Broncos, so did the attention to the jumbo flat screen. I figured this is typical of football games; you watch to get drunk, and once a satisfactory level of drunk has been achieved, the football games meld into background noise and the focus is now on what arm candy you’ll be leaving with. All in all, it was a fun experience.
The holidays came and went, and the playoffs began. Naturally, I didn’t pay much attention, knowing that my beloved Cleveland Browns would not be in attendance. One day, a friend casually mentioned that the Broncos were playing the Steelers in a playoff battle. The Steelers pitted against the Godsend, Tim Tebow, on home turf? Hmm…this might be worth a watch.
Cutting straight to overtime, picture this:
In a small-town sports bar, various groups of fans cling to their beer pints, standing huddled in anticipation, gripping their seats with anxiety, bouncing on toes in excitement. The bartender sets the mood lights, cuts the music and turns up the volume.
The cheers start as a slow rumble, almost like an earthquake, and as Tebow’s pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is made, patrons fling from their stools, beer pints slammed to counter tops. Thomas catches the pass and makes his way to the end zone. The cheers erupt from bellies and manly shouts of encouragement to no one in particular reverberate through the small bar. Almost unbelievably, Thomas reaches the end zone, sealing the victory for the Broncos. My temporarily adopted team did the unforeseen and demolished the Steelers’ chance at glory.
That moment made it clear to me why football is held in such high regard. As I surveyed the rest of the bar, chanting, high five-ing, chest bumping, and beer chugging, I realized that I have become a football fan. But why after all these years? Simply put, it’s because I was actually able to witness a victory, not just a win.
Let me explain.
The Browns do win games from time to time, this much is true. Browns fans rejoice that their team was able to manage the football standard. We know not to expect much, for changes have to be made within the Browns’ organization before they can achieve playoff glory.
But the Broncos have Tim Tebow, an average player who has been able to convince not only Coloradoans to back their team, but garner an obscene amount of media attention and win games in the process. It became common for the Broncos to pull out wins during the season. But what happened last Sunday wasn’t a win. It was one hell of a victory.
Tebow is by no means the sole reason for the Broncos’ wins, but he shouldn’t be cast aside as having no part. The Tebow media attention alone has given a statewide and national spotlight to the team, which might really have an effect on how the team plays. Add together a media-declared Godsend, an experienced coach, a stout defense, reliable running game, and a good crop of recent draft picks, and you’ve got a team that stands a chance to accumulate some victories.
The Browns are not far off from this. They just need time. Once the team is built, their wins will become commonplace, in turn leading to victories. Victories we never thought possible. Victories against…dare I say…the Steelers? The Broncos? Every team on the path to a Super Bowl? Dear Lord, one can only pray.