You do realize that there’s going to be a parade rolling past the so-called Factory of Sadness along Erleside Avenue and Alfred Lerner Way on Sunday night if the Cleveland Browns defeat the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon?
The folks at Budweiser stand at the ready to provide free “fuel” for such a celebration in the event that should happen, as troves of Bud Light in large coolers located at the aforementioned “factory” (First Energy Stadium) and at stashed away undisclosed locations throughout Cleveland will be wirelessly unlocked the second the Browns secure their first victory since the waning days of the Obama presidency.
The long-suffering Browns’ faithful (or perhaps the better word is “committed”) came close to tasting complimentary brew last Sunday against their longtime rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers though they had to settle for a non-loss, a 21-21 tie.
Sure it was a baby step but as Al Pacino’s character in Any Given Sunday said, life is a game of inches. And it’s better to move an inch forward than a yard back.
Particularly when you’re starting the season on your own goal line.
At least the Dawg Pound got a bone in that the 17-game losing streak dating back to New Year’s Day 2017 came to an end.
This Sunday, the Browns come to the Big Easy hungry for more than free beer and Emeril’s; a team loaded with talent from several years’ worth of early draft picks is starving for a win.
And judging by how the Saints defense played last Sunday, the Browns are practically drooling over the thought of coming home a winner.
And history is on their side.
The Saints have an atrocious record against the Browns, 4-13.
And the last time the Saints beat the Browns in the Superdome was….
wait for it….
I was in high school and attended that game. The Browns were doing well when Jim Mora yanked quarterback John Fourcade and put in newly acquired quarterback Steve Walsh.
The former Cowboy rallied the team for a 25-20 win, which proved to be one of the few highlights of the Walsh era in what turned out to be the most disastrous trade in franchise history until Mike Ditka took a shine to Ricky Williams. On a personally unforgettable note, the game busted the closest I came to hitting a three-game parlay on a betting card.
But back to the more recent past.
The last time the Saints hosted the Browns (2010) proved to be a complete embarrassment. Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy and an imaginative coaching staff that utilized trick plays including a fake punt and a wide lateral pass on a kickoff return handed the then-defending Super Bowl champs a frustrating loss.
Four years later in Cleveland, the Saints suffered the indignity of losing in a game that featured a cameo appearance by Johnny Football. Of note, the Browns’ win snapped a lengthy home opener losing streak that dated to 2004.
Last week in Cleveland, Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 197 yards and rushed for 77 yards, scoring touchdowns in the air and on the ground. Former LSU wide out Jarvis Landry hauled in 7 receptions for 106 yards.
But the guy whose stats really jump out belong to Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett.
The stud d-lineman had 2 sacks, 5 tackles, and a Rickey Jackson-esque 2 forced fumbles. The big disruptive Aggie is the real threat and the Saints offensive line will have their hands full blocking and the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
After going winless in 2017, the snarky Browns fans held an 0-16 parade the following weekend to commemorate their “perfect season” through the frigid bitter winds blowing off Lake Erie. Paper bag masks were de rigueur for the occasion, serving both fashion and function needs.
Considering they’re playing in the home of Mardi Gras (to clarify for our Mobile, Alabama readers, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome not Ladd-Peebles Stadium), a victory parade would only be appropriate if they were to score their first W since 2016 in New Orleans.
A lot of ballyhooed folks who did not do their jobs and failed to “prove them right” last week need to show up and make tackles. And the offense needs to figure out a way to stay on the field.
Or it’s going to be Fat Sunday in Cleveland.