Those who know me well know that I’ve been a huge Cleveland Browns fan my whole life, always been there for the few ups and many downs since the 1986 season when I first started paying attention to football. By 1987, to say I was obsessed with the game would be an understatement. Now, I’ve always been known for my photographic childhood memory, but my memories of the minute details of my experiences during this particular Cleveland Browns football season goes beyond weird. So here they are, in five parts (with no cheating or embellishing):
Week 1 – September 13, 1987 @ New Orleans Saints
I was very excited for the new season to begin, and I dutifully sat down to watch the first game of the Browns’ season. Sometime during the first or second quarter, I got a little bored and decided instead* to play a game called “Summer Games” on our Apple IIgs computer. Later on that afternoon, I turned the game back on just in time to see Bernie Kosar throw two Hail Mary passes into the end zone in the final seconds of the game. After the first pass fell incomplete with a few seconds left, I asked my dad** if an incomplete pass counted as a down, to which he replied, “No. Wait, yes, YES.” As Bernie went back to launch a second pass, the clock hit :00, which prompted an “Oh no!” from me, but my dad reassured me, “As long as the ball’s in motion, they can’t stop the game.” The pass fell incomplete, and the Browns lost 28-21. Later on that day I went to my friend’s house, and his weird motorcycle uncle commented to me how “We came close, but we’ll get ‘em next time (or something).”
*Only time I’ve ever turned off/away from a game in that manner. I was just 9 years old at the time, of course.
**My dad has a rudimentary knowledge of football.
Week 2 – September 20, 1987 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 2 of the 1987 NFL season came with a scheduling conflict for our household TV that would last until mid-season; My mom and my sister had been planning to watch and record on VHS a series of Gilbert & Sullivan movies on PBS that were being show on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 PM. Since we had only gotten our first VCR a mere few months before, we were unaware as a family that it was possible to record on one channel while watching another. As a result, I was subjected to watch the first of several ’87 Browns games on a small black & white television while they lavished in the luxury of our color TV set. (And ya know, it’s ok in retrospect. I managed all right with the B & W, and whenever I hear Gilbert & Sullivan songs to this day, it gives me happy Cleveland Browns memories).
I watched the Browns pummel the Steelers, 34-10. In stark contrast to my Week 1 restlessness, I was beside myself with energy and excitement throughout. I kept wishing that my one close friend was there watching with me, because we’d of had a blast together. I got to see the final touchdown, a Clay Matthews interception return, on the color TV after 4 PM. I remember the football field looking so damn green on the screen.
Week 3 – September 28, 1987 vs. Denver Broncos (CANCELED DUE TO 1987 NFL STRIKE)
I was remarking to my dad at the dinner table during the week about how I was excited for the Browns to enact revenge on the Broncos for their heartbreaking playoff loss to them the previous winter. My dad chuckled, then suddenly stopped himself. “Oh, wait, the NFL is on strike!” he said. I didn’t know the specifics of a workers’ strike at that time, I just knew that I was sad that there would be no football for the foreseeable future. The game was going to be on Monday night, so I wouldn’t have been able to watch too much of it anyway. But still, the Broncos. I always wondered what would have happened in that game.
Week 4 – October 4, 1987 @ New England Patriots
Football was back! Of course, they were using replacement players, which only struck me as a little strange at the time. Instead of Bernie Kosar, our quarterback was some guy with a mustache, and that’s all I remember about the Browns “scabs.” (I do remember that the older brother of a girl in my 4th grade class was a replacement player for the Cincinnati Bengals). Looking back, the whole idea of supporting the owners by watching those games is disgusting, but I was 9 years old, so I was willing to settle for the mustache man.
I was presented with the option that afternoon to go roller skating with my sister and cousin, but I opted to watch the game instead. The Patriots scored the first touchdown of the game, and I felt guilty because I got a little excited. I guess I was just itching for action after the time away? The Browns came from behind and won 20-10. During the game, the announcers made jokes about how the stadium crowd was dissipating throughout the afternoon. At one point with the Browns up 13-10, they showed a before and after shot of the seats, one from the start of the game and then one from the point they were at. The difference was alarming, and I couldn’t figure out why the home crowd was leaving with their team only behind by three points. I suppose they were just disgusted by the performance of all the replacement players in general. That afternoon, I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, and it was really good.
Coming up in Part 2: When will the regular players come back? And I would I be allowed to stay up to watch the Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams? Stay tuned.