DY: In Just a Few Words (#11)
Never give up. Never give in. And turn the heat on, please.
You want to talk about cold?
It was just two days after Christmas in 1964 and I was 25-years-old. As a special Christmas gift that year, I had purchased tickets for my father and father-in-law to the NFL Championship Game to be played at the antiquated Cleveland Municipal Stadium. FirstEnergy Stadium sits on that exact spot today. And it’s still mighty cold down there in the winter.
We boarded the Shaker Rapid for downtown Cleveland. We were on our way to watch the heavily favored Baltimore Colts eat the Browns’ lunch. This was before the Cleveland Browns would become the Baltimore Ravens because the Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Colts. But, those are stories for another day.
It wasn’t going to be pretty and we all knew that. I was a season ticket holder in those days and had hoped for 50-yard-line seats about 15 rows up from the field. Where we ended up wasn’t quite that good – two rows from the top of the western edge of the end zone directly in the path of wind blowing across what is today the Dawg Pound. It was beyond cold. It was frigid. But, at least we were there. One of the great things about a high-scoring game is that you can stay warm just by getting up and cheering after each score. Well, the halftime score at this game was 0-0. Nothing to cheer about. We were just trying to survive. Have I mentioned it was cold?
Mercifully, the second half warmed us all up a bit. It started modestly. A Lou Groza field goal made it 3-0 good guys. That was followed by three Frank Ryan TD passes to Gary Collins and another Groza field goal. Contributing along the way under the direction of Coach Blanton Collier were other Browns all-time greats – including Jim Brown and Paul Warfield. Perhaps their names ring a bell. Suddenly it was all over. Cleveland 27 – Baltimore 0. Yes, you read that right. Baltimore zip. It was a bad day to be from Baltimore.
This was a huge payday for the players. Each Brown received roughly $8,000 as their share from the Championship Game and each Colt $5,000. Those amounts have, of course, grown modestly through the years. For example, Super Bowl winners in 2020 each received $124,000 for that one game while the losers had to make do with only $62,000. But, even the paltry $8,000 for each winning Brown in 1964 was more than enough to buy a new winter parka to protect against the cold. Global warming sure has helped a lot since then. I’m almost as much a fan of global warming as I am of the Browns. I get the shakes just thinking about how cold it was that day in 1964.
Which gets us to 2021. I am here to tell you as a witness to that long ago time that what happened in Pittsburgh this past Sunday night is by far the greatest Browns moment since that 1964 Championship Game when we shocked Baltimore. I waited 57 long (often cold) years to see something as good and as powerful from the Browns as what they did on that frigid day in 1964. And, sure enough it happened.
Think about what we all saw this past Sunday. No head coach. Multiple other coaches out. Important players sidelined by COVID-19 and assorted injuries. Just one practice in the week leading up to the first playoff game in nearly two decades. Up against a world-class QB in Ben Roethlisberger in 2021 just as they had been with Johnny Unitas in 1964. Clearly, the underdog.
What happened this week is a perfect example of making lemonade out of lemons. All week before the game, Browns players had been saying “no excuses” whatever might happen. Well, Browns fans, nobody needed any excuses. The result of what happened in Pittsburgh is a perfect example of grit over glamour, action over words. The Steelers have six Super Bowl trophies. So far, we have none. But, I’ve got a feeling we can build on what happened this week.
And if it takes another 57 years, so what? I’ll only be 138-years-old then. I can wait. Special moments don’t happen every week. The takeaway from Pittsburgh is that no matter the odds, never give up and never give in. Find a way. Make it happen. Turn the heat on.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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