In November of 2005, I had the pleasure of visiting Cleveland and the surrounding area while catching our Dolphins at the Browns.
I had sold an estate in New Jersey and the executrix, JoAnne, is a prominent attorney in Cleveland who has season tix to all the Cleveland teams so she invited me out as soon as the schedule was released.
Her husband, Jim, is a die hard Cleveland fan since childhood while JoAnne, from New Jersey, is luke warm at best and still roots for the Yankees.
Now Cleveland fans haven't won a Championship in any sport in decades and they have a defeatest attitude to say the least. They lost in the World Series and had their hearts ripped out through their throats by the Broncos and Raiders in 3 AFC Championship games.
They get fired up but as Jim says "We are waiting for the 2x4s to fall out of the sky and knock us out".
I flew in on a Tuesday morning and Jim picked me up. We had met previously in New Jersey finalizing the sale of JoAnne's childhood home and we hit it off immediately. Jim is very knowledgeable about sports, X's and O's included. We had five days before kickoff and they had a great sports agenda laid out for me.
That first night, Jim and I went to see the Labron James led Cavs. Their seats were excellent, 10 rows from the court in a corner. Those guys are big and quick. The environment was electric and we had a great time.
The following morning, Wednesday, I woke up to my first lake effect snow storm. It didn't bother Jim in any way, so we hopped in the car and headed down to Canton to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you have not been to the HOF, you must get there. When we arrived I thought they were closed as there were only a few cars in the lot. Now mind you that it is late November and it is snowing so we wound being with maybe about 15 visitors there that morning.
By chance, I happened to be the only one in the Hall of Busts at one point, so what the hell, I ran around rubbing top of the heads of all our Dolphins' busts on display. Could you imagine if one of them fell? "OOOPS. Sorry." I am sure the security guard watching the video feed got a kick out of me.
Thursday, we hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Friday, we did the Science Museum and dinner and clubs.
Saturday night was special. The Italian Law Association in Cleveland have an annual dinner and it was that night. We dressed up and went to this swank restaurant in the Little Italy section. They had a Perry Como imitator who was excellent. The food was perfect and wine kept pouring.
Now comes Sunday at the Browns. As we start to cross a bridge to head into Cleveland's mid-town, Jim says "There it is, our cow town!". He was right. The streets were disolate. I asked if anyone was going to the game. There was no one to be found.
We parked and started to walk a few blocks towards the lake and the stadium.
As we turned a corner it was like we landed in Oz. Finally, football nirvana. Tailgates upon tailgates.
The Browns fans were very friendly even with some snide remarks about my Dolphins jacket. Every where I turned, we were offered brats and beers. Can't beat mid-western hospitality.
We go into the stadium to watch the pregame. They owned 10 seats on the 15 yard line between the Browns bench and their locker room. 2 seats were in the 4th row, where their friends sat. 4 seats each were in rows 6 and 7 right behind each other so they would sit as a group with friends and colleagues.
As the teams were warming up, Jim calls me over to the wall and looking down says "Jim, I want to introduce you to a good friend of ours from Jersey". I look down and standing there looking up is Jim Brown!!! I shake his hand and he asks if I am enjoying my visit. I was flabbergasted!
Anyway, the Browns kick our butts, 22-0 as Reuben Droughns guts us for 166 yards. It was one of those slow deaths were nothing is going right but somehow we still have hope. Their fans were comical and gracious.
After the game, as we are walking back to the car, I couldn't believe how quiet it was. Thousands of people just slowly marching to their cars. I said to Jim "You guys just kicked our butts and I cannot believe we can hear a pin drop".
Putting his arm around me, Jim sighs and says "We are listening. We are waiting for them to call us back to announce the refs put more time on the clock and get ready for another 2x4!!"
Dolfan since 12/25/1971