Well I have another revelation for those of you who weren't around to watch football in the '60s: Playing the Cleveland Browns then was the same nightmare for Pittsburghers that Browns fans have been living over the last 40 or so years. That team used to kill the Steelers every year.
The Browns of the '60s were a different organization than the one that trots out miserable teams such as their current edition. They were a brutal team and the Steelers looked like pathetic losers against them.
ABOVE: Today, things are different. Even the Browns fans' larvae are down on the state.
Believe it or not, the Steelers and Browns would play their annual "Turnpike Series" in Cleveland on Saturday nights! Of course today the NFL plays on Sunday, Monday, Thursdays and soon there will even be an NFL Network game played on a Wednesday. But it wasn't always like that. For years you had a 1:00 game and a 4:00 game on Sundays. Period. There was no Monday night or any other night, but for some odd reason, the Steelers would play at the old ramshackle Cleveland Municipal Stadium on Saturday nights. Today the NFL doesn't play on Saturdays until the college season is over. I never understood why they played on Saturday night, but man it was special. This was the big bad Browns! I wish that tradition had continued til today.
I can vividly remember the couple years that we had former Maryland quarterback, Dick Shiner as our quarterback and a guy by the name of Kent Nix. Nix apparently was unable to make any kind of a significant throw because everything was either a "dink" or a "dunk". In between these, of course, the Browns had many "slam dunks" for both him and Shiner. I remember my dad being totally disgusted with them. "Same Old Steelers" he would say while walking out of the room, shaking his head and waving his hand at the tv.
He knew how much of a fan I was and even years later, when the team was coming together in the early '70s, if Bradshaw would throw an interception or Franco would run out of bounds, just to irritate me he'd start in with his "Same Old Steelers" routine.
He really went too far once when in the '80s, after the team went into a slide in the waning years of Chuck Noll's tenure. He started with the "Same Old Steelers" remark after a Mark Malone interception and I said something like, "GEEZ. How many more SuperBowls do they have to win before you stop saying that?" He just laughed at my seriousness.
ABOVE LEFT: "Hall of Famer" receiver Paul Warfield, BELOW: Good receiver with a better name, Fair Hooker.
ABOVE: Fair Hooker was elected to the Hall of Fame this year...the"Great Sports Names Hall of Fame" that is!
I even attended a game once at Forbes Field where the Steelers played the Cincinnati Bengals in the exhibition season. The Bengals were really bad then, much as they have been throughout their existence, this season notwithstanding. The lighting at Forbes was also very dim versus today's standards. I was sitting low in the third base area and so I had a terrible angle to the action. Forbes Field was an absolutely lousy place to stage a football game with the baseball infield. I don't know what the Steelers were thinking, especially with Pitt Stadium being right up the street. I can't remember, but maybe it was that Pitt stadium didn't have lights then?
ABOVE: Yeah we welcome you... to come get a good butt kicking that is.
But if things start to get ugly tomorrow, as they very possibly could, before you want to start feeling sorry for the Browns and their fans, just remember: Your dads and grandpappys suffered for a lot of years against the Browns. Relish the team that you have now and never, ever, take it for granted. Because today, "Same old Steelers" has come full circle and taken on a whole different meaning.
ABOVE: Thank goodness that we're done playing this guy. The Eagles are thankful that Jim Brown quit to make movies too.