Week X: Loud and Proud in Cleveland

November 15th, 2004

Week X: Loud and Proud in Cleveland

A big step in the life of a fan is to leave the safety of the home tailgate and venture into hostile territory. The big decision for any fan in this situation is whether to don colors or not. For only by visually displaying your team loyalty can you experience being a true fan and all the goes with it. This is one situation where you aren’t accepted until you take sides.

I traveled to Cleveland with several friends. We left Pittsburgh at 5:30 AM Sunday morning. We arrived to a parking lot filled with Browns fans. The lots in Cleveland are open two days before the game; so many people had been tailgating all night when we arrived. As soon as we entered the lot, the heckling began. We parked and started our own tailgate, but with quiet enthusiasm. As Joey Porter would soon learn, talking trash is one thing, but fisticuffs benefit no one.

It was a cold morning by Lake Erie but we made a few friends. Good people can see past the insulting remarks and t-shirts and realize that the heckling is all part of the game. This is important because as the visiting team, the numbers were against us. So in black and gold, we were perfect targets. At first local reporters prodded us. Then with a smile and an 8-1 record, we marched proudly to the stadium, through hundreds of Browns fans yelling “ASS-hole, ASS-hole.” In fact we were shown one too. And the barking, the constant barking of Browns fans makes it feel like a trip to the kennel. At moments it was amusing, and at other times surreal, but upon entering the stadium it was obvious we weren’t alone.

We sat in the back row and cheered the whole game, making every Browns fan in front of us cringe. When we stand up in the crowd, it is us, the visiting fans who are heard. We were outnumbered but not quieted. And though many Browns fans seemed dejected and annoyed, it is all part of the game. We are loud because we are loyal, and we know that fans make a difference in the game. When all was said and done the last people to leave the stadium were the Steelers fans. To the end, Black and Gold.

Final Outcome: Steelers beat Cleveland Browns 24 – 10
Steelers 8-1

Week X: Loud and Proud in Cleveland

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