[Editor’s Note: While the rest of us were relaxing in front of our TVs on Sunday, intern emeritus Vince Grzegorek was at the Browns/Bills game — you know, the one where it snowed just a little bit. Here’s his first-hand report. — PL]
By Vince Grzegorek
Every once in awhile, I’ll be sitting at an Indians game and someone will say, “Boy, this is football weather.” Yes, it’s Cleveland, and it’s going to get cold. The phrase always annoys me to no end. However, at the Browns game Sunday, the blizzard bowl, I found myself sitting there and thinking, “Wow, this is kind of like baseball weather” after the Opening Day debacle earlier this year. Good thing Cleveland has a steady supply of leaf blowers.
I have sufficiently thawed enough to tell you it was fantastic to be down there, even if it turns out to be one of those games that 50,000 more people will claim to have attended than were actually were there. Those who did show up were loud, though, maybe because everyone was trying to forget that the cartilage in their knees had frozen enough to make climbing a small flight of stairs a near-impossible task.
On the uniform front, I’m always impressed to see professional football players scoffing at the idea of long sleeves for winter conditions like this. This wasn’t just any December game. There were 40-mph winds, a field covered to the point that the fans (and the refs) couldn’t tell where the yard markers were, and enough snow that you couldn’t see downtown Cleveland… from downtown Cleveland. And yet, many players were out there as if it were July in Florida.
John Clayton actually mentioned this in his column yesterday:
In an interesting sidelight, the Browns’ offense came out without sleeves to show their toughness. Left tackle Joe Thomas said it was a statement by Browns offensive linemen. Winslow did it because he doesn’t like to vary his uniform. Lewis didn’t wear sleeves or gloves. “I believe in having skin on the ball,” Lewis said. “If you wear gloves, you could fumble.” Even Browns quarterback Derek Anderson got in on the act. He skipped the sleeves, even though, as he told his teammates in the huddle, he had “never played in anything like this, even in a pickup game.”
(In the interest of full disclosure, many Bills players went sans sleeves also, but Clayton didn’t mention that. And, in fact, Braylon Edwards came out with long sleeves, as did Joe Jurevicius, so it wasn’t actually the entire Browns’ offense.)
Of course, Anderson couldn’t be all that macho considering he wore a big oven mitt on his throwing hand to keep warm, and even Lewis admitted to reporters, “Everytime we did get on the field, it was a TV timeout. So we had to get in the huddle, huddle in together and stay warm. I was (shivering) the whole first half.”
Random thoughts from the game:
• I kept waiting for an opportunity for instant replay to be used, and not just for a fumble, but a “did he get both feet in bounds” situation. I can just imagine the guys in the booth and the refs looking at each other with blank stares as they ponder the question, “Did his toe touch before that little slushy puddle that could be either the 35 yard line or the 42?” Of course, instant replay never got used, probably for the same reason that the refs didn’t really call any penalties.
• Every time a ref did throw a flag, it was an adventure to find it. “Is that my flag, or did the Browns’ mascot just make yellow snow?”
• I’m a smoker, so I’m allowed to say this: If you want true hilarity, stand outside an NFL stadium during a blizzard before or after a game and watch the nicotine-starved masses try to light their smokes. People were going with every strategy, including lighting them inside their shirts. I’m pretty sure one or two people singed a nipple.
• For as many layers as it took to stay warm, that’s as many layers you have to deal with when it comes time to make a bathroom break. Guys fourth or fifth in line for urinals were heard saying, “Well, I better start getting ready for this now,” and the guys that went with the overalls could be heard saying, “This is going to be interesting.” And trust me, it was.
Uni Watch News Ticker: According to this item, the entire Capitals team has abandoned the newfangled Edge jerseys and switched to the replacement jerseys with the old fabric (with thanks to Mark Coale). … Bruce Menard sent me this early-’70s shot of Reggie Jackson, but neither of us knows the story behind the “Frank Robinson” inscription. Anyone..? … We all know Ted Ginn Jr. wore a placekicker’s facemask in college, and has continued wearing it with the Dolphins, but apparently nobody told the folks who designed this video game, plus those black socks look awful (good catch by Rick Friedel). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: This page includes a video clip of a European hockey team that put Santa’s caps on its uni numbers last Friday. … I figure there’s gotta be a swoosh somewhere on that Oregon plane. Details here. … As if Pro Bowls weren’t bad enough, check out Harris Barton with an upside-down nose bumper decal (awesome find by Jason Tyx). … Not one of mankind’s better ideas. … Speaking of which: Several readers have noted that Adrian Peterson often ends up with shmutz on his uni numbers. I’ve always assumed this to be paint or dye from the field surface, but Todd Eggert points out that Peterson’s numbers were gunked up before last night’s game even started. Weird.