In my first edition of the Browns Fan Survival Guide, I will be offering tips on a subject that hits very close to home for me, and I must confess:
I married a Buffalo Bills fan.
The statement itself feels treasonous to make. But listen, I can explain. First and foremost, the guy had a Buckeyes ball cap on when I met him. I mean, c’mon. And once the subject of professional football was broached, we drowned our sorrows of past pigskin heartaches with beers and tacos. As a Bills fan, he knows what it means to watch your team self-destruct before your very eyes when it matters most (see Super Bowls XXV-XXVIII). What’s worse, he has family ties to the coaching staff from back in the day. He, too, is hopelessly devoted to a team that brings him nothing but pain. He gets it.
Besides, it’s not like I dislike the Bills. I watched the aforementioned Super Bowls and rooted for them. To this day, I still hate the Dallas Cowboys. We had that in common. And he hates the Steelers. That’s good enough for me!
I don’t know if I was blinded by love or had one too many tacos, but I didn’t even object to his undying devotion to the Detroit Tigers. Wait, what? That’s right. I am an Indians fan through and through, having watched most of the games on TV with my dad while growing up. I still do to this day, actually. But I don’t hate the Tigers. I would root for them when I saw them televised, so long as they weren’t playing the Tribe. Then he tells me how much he hates the Yankees. So there’s always that.
You see, it’s all well and fine to be fans of different teams, until the inevitable happens; they play against each other. It may not be often, but probability says it is bound to happen at some point. That Spring, we thought it would be fun to attend an Indians/Tigers game together. Then the following Fall, we thought it was a good idea to attend a Browns/Bills game. Which brings me to my first tip:
Never, ever, for the Love of God, attend the game together. This is a recipe for disaster.
The first (and only) time my husband and I attended a Browns/Bills game, I was beyond excited. We went with my parents, who are tried-and-true Browns fans. Another rookie mistake. So far that season, the Browns had barely lost their first two games to the Eagles and the Bengals. They fought hard, and I was convinced they would pull out a win at home against the 1-1 Bills. I was so optimistic, in fact, that I accepted my future husband’s wager on the outcome of the game. I agreed that if the Bills won, I would wear his Bills hat all the way home to Northwest Ohio from Cleveland.
Tip #2: Do NOT bet on the game.
True to their form, the Browns lost. Badly. This picture is me attempting to swat his camera away from my face. Realizing he had no intention of putting down the camera, I decided to focus on exiting the stadium as quickly as possible.
Yep, still in the stadium. CRAP.
How did I get myself into this mess? I just couldn’t resist trash talking. I couldn’t just keep my mouth shut. I had to own up.
The third tip stems directly from this incident:
Keep trash-talking to a minimum.
Face it, no one likes to eat crow. And you really don’t want to risk allowing yourself to say too much…i.e. accepting a bet which would entail you to wear the hat of the opponent whom just beat the daylights out of your team.
I’m not saying to NEVER talk smack (honestly, who can resist it?!). Just keep it to a minimum, even if it’s the off-season. If your spouse’s team is particularly awful at the game of football, like the Browns for instance, keep in mind that all the jokes can take a toll after a while. If your team is on fire, makes the playoffs every year, etc, don’t forget that this too shall pass. Certainly there are powerhouse organizations that haven’t had a losing season in what seems like decades. But every team has sucked in the past and will invariably suck again, at some point in the future. Sometimes it’s best to get off the high horse ahead of time.
Talking smack can be found in its finest form when at home, in a safe environment without onlookers and witnesses. That’s why I offer my next tip:
When watching the game at home, be sure to have at least 2 TVs in your house tuned into the game in separate rooms.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Inevitably, one of your teams will end up doing something incredibly horrific or amazingly spectacular. When this happens, you will need to take yourself out of the current room. One person can’t believe it just happened; the other is jumping for joy. One will need to take this opportunity to quickly excuse oneself and cool off. Personally, I always find myself going back to the first room within a few minutes and repeating this process a few dozen times per game. Sometimes the pacing is therapeutic. My team usually loses, so I always take a second to remind myself of the following tip:
Someone has to lose, right? We’re used to it by now, so why not us? We have had to learn the art of losing graciously in our years as Browns fans. We are a unique breed that has grown strong in our misery. We can take it, just like we always have. But that being said, always remember:
Yes, I just went George Dubya on ya and invented that word. But it’s necessary. There are few things in life that show a person’s character more than how they act when they win. A gracious winner has felt the sting of defeat and allows that wound to stay close enough to the surface to be recognized.
True Sportsmanship is the key. Because don’t forget, they will play again.
It’s February now– you have plenty of time to prepare yourself. I suggest putting together a plan and practicing your comebacks in the bathroom mirror daily.
Be sure to tune in next time when I’ll offer more tips on surviving Browns Football (and life).