I don't have the exact quote, but with precisely 5:27 left in the Browns-Ravens game and with Cleveland driving, clinging to a 14-12 lead, CBS announcer Steve Tasker said, "I hate to mention this, but the Browns have yet to turn the ball over in this game."
I watched the game at Damon's with my friends Brian and Ryan, along with about 75 other Browns fans, and a lot of hatred was hurled at Tasker for that comment. Why? Because that's when teams commit turnovers, right after an idiot announcer says something about it. It's more reliable than the sun rising out of the east every morning.
So it was only a matter of time. Brian opined that we would turn the ball over on the second play after Tasker's moronic statement. The dread grew in my stomach as the seconds ticked off the clock. Kellen Winslow made a great catch to push the ball down to the Raven four-yard line, and on first-and-goal Browns running back Jason Wright was stopped at the line for no gain.
In a blink of an eye, it happened.
Charlie Frye, under pressure, slung a pass in the end zone, where Braylon Edwards was in single coverage against Chris McAllister. But McAllister had the inside position, and stepped in front to make the play.
Interception. Turnover. Stunned silence in Damon's.
Of course we ended up losing. Matt Stover, my second favorite kicker in the NFL (behind Phil Dawson - Stover kicked for the Brownies before Art Modell ripped out the city's soul in 1995) simply does not miss field goals. Even from 52 yards out, I knew the kick would sail true through the yellow uprights. 15-14, Ravens.
As the clock expired, a dejected crowd exited the restaurant. Were it not for Damon's awesome mints, I probably would have driven my car into the Olentangy River. As such, I felt obligated to call and commiserate with my dad, sitting 120 miles away but feeling as frustrated as I was.
I couldn't put into words my emotions, but he knew. "Welcome to my life," he said.
Earlier this week, I painfully came to the realization that the only successful Browns team I can truly remember was the 2002 squad, which went 9-7 and lost to Pittsburgh in that heartbreaker in the playoffs. The Browns made the playoffs in 1994, but I was only seven years old and didn't recgonize the importance of that feat at the time. I can't even remember how many times I've wanted to give up on them because of the constant heartaches they give me.
And through it all, I'm still a fan. We're all still fans. Those are our boys, our family, out there, playing for us. Do we get upset when they don't perform as well as we expected or hoped? Of course. But they're still our team.
Next week, the 0-3 Browns face the 0-2 Raiders at 4:15. You can bet I'll be watching. Like my dad, it's my life too.