Five years ago, I wrote an article about my visit to the Steelers/Chargers game in San Diego. It was a special birthday gift for my brother. The Jacobs boys were dressed in Bettis shirts and, even though the Steelers lost that game, the San Diego fans screamed at us the entire way to the bus and wanted to brawl with us. If you have ever seen the two of us, even without the Bettis jerseys, you’d realize that not only was this humorous; it was hilarious.
Well, an old friend called me on New Year’s Eve told me he had an extra ticket and asked if I’d like to go to the Browns/Steelers game with him. The good news is that this guy has good seats. The bad news is that he lives there and is a Browns fan. The trip to Cleveland wasn’t bad, roads were clear, sun was in and out, and it only took two and a half hours to get there. (Getting back was an entirely different story that begins with the words…Lake Effect.) There are no tunnels, lots of four lane highways, and because the Browns had lost eleven games, there was almost no traffic on the way into the stadium. My buddy and I met at a downtown bowling alley/restaurant, had a salad and headed for the stadium with over an hour to spare. He was in his Browns attire, and I had my terrible towel.
As we got closer to the stadium entrance, we saw what could only be described as a gigantic human traffic jam. There were literally thousands of people jammed up outside the stadium, and no one was moving anywhere. This is when the fun began. Several police cars passed us with lights and sirens flashing and roaring, and left us Browns and Steelers fans literally stacked on top of each other as we tried to get into the game.
At first there were a few rough words from Cleveland fans. For example, the Pitt in Pittsburgh was replaced with a plural word that rhymes with Pitt and ends in burgh. Then things started to heat up a little with more shouting between both sides in this massive stationary mob scene. Because neither my friend nor I would be considered Ultimate Cage Fighters, we just moved silently ahead one tedious inch at a time, hoped and prayed for the best.
Halfway through the first quarter, we made it to the pat down gate and watched as couples were broken up and women were sent to the back of other lines that were female only. We found this to be a curious situation because normally there would be a bag search line and a no bag line, but it is not typically a male line and a female line. Then we noticed something really strange. They were making the non bag carrying women remove their hats and gloves. What the heck was that about? Had there been a tip that some female terrorist was smuggling plastic explosives under her hat or in her mittens?
I stood beside one Cleveland fan who told me that he had been coming to these games for 55 years and had never experienced anything as brainless as this. Bottom line, we arrived at our seats three quarters of the way through the first quarter. Our outside the gate wait was nearly 90 minutes and no one, not the guards, not the friskers, not the ticket takers, not the ushers, and not even the hot dog sales people seemed one bit concerned or remorseful. I’m not sure what the announcers were saying about all of the empty orange seats, but the place was probably sold out. We just weren’t able to get into the stadium.
As soon as we sat down the 50 mph winds, rain and snow hit hard, but we won!