The Browns were already 1-7. A national laughingstock. An organizational Superfund site. A national storyline spun off the idiotic idea of a silly, self-aggrandizing fan (boosted by an owner with an otherworldly gift for empowering the unworthy). Both inside linebackers, the team’s top two tacklers, lost for the season. The offense, bereft of speed and spirit, flip-flopping quarterbacks like live flounder flailing on a sizzling skillet.
What could make it worse?
I didn’t dare put it into prose. Why reify the already ambient “woe-is-us” attitude? Why take the karmic hit if the fears came to pass?
Now, of course, the answer is brutally obvious.
What’s the most natural extension (meaning, in Browns-speak, preternatural) of how this season could get even worse?
Josh Cribbs gets knocked out.
But not even my patent-pending catastrophic thinking module (honed over lo these decades of Browns fandom) would dare to specify circumstances so surreal.
Toward the stroke of midnight, it was. Browns are getting pasted yet again on national TV by those prodigal sons-of-bitches. This blogger, beset by a flu-riddled family, accedes to the nepenthe of slumber with mere meaningless minutes remaining.
Only in dreamland, where the constraints of logic and rationality are delta-waived, could the following be possible. Yet, I find this morning, it actually came to pass that
- The Browns were apparently granted a fourth timeout, allowing the Ravens’ otherwise clock-killing final possession to expire with 20 seconds to go.
- The Browns offense, previously known for folding its tent at the first wisp of a cloud, suddenly finds itself, relieved of the theoretical possibility of actually winning the game, launching into attack mode.
- Down 16 points, the obvious downfield target of Quinn on the first two downs is, of course, our beloved #16, Josh Cribbs.
- Not satisfied with two incompletions, the fateful final fling at a 16-point conversion finds our sole superhero snagging a Quinn pass and flipping it to teammate Robert Royal for a final late-night comedy bit.
- It turns tragic, as the Browns’ heart-and-soul star, its never-say-die dude, somehow (again, I am sleeping through all this) uncharacteristically lets down his guard and gets jacked up by some Raven named (ugh) Edwards.
- Out comes the stretcher and the ambulance trip to Cleveland Clinic.
- Thus ends another fine chapter in Browns ignominy and pain.
My stupid, silent fear was not actually False Evidence Appearing Real. It was just too preposterous to admit. Which means it fits perfectly into the narrative of Cleveland Browns lore.
Which begs the question: what’s next?
Hmmm. The Browns next travel to Detroit to take on a team that has won exactly one game in its last 26. Ford Field is only 40 minutes from my house, tickets can be had real cheap, and a local TV blackout may well apply. Should I go and be a witness? It could be quite … something …
But without Cribbs?!? Whatever for?
However, if he’s on the sidelines, in his concussed state, it’s the perfect time for this man of many hats to wear one more.