Why do we do this to ourselves?'' a friend recently asked me. His question, although filled with such thought provoking possibilities and philosophical meaning, was geared toward one single thing. Why in the world would we allow ourselves to fall so deeply in love with something that does nothing more than break our hearts time and again?
As I have said a number of times, I am a proud native of the Cleveland area. I grew up only 15 minutes from the city and have so many memories of it, I could fill this entire section of the newspaper and likely much more. I, like most other Clevelanders, have a deep love rooted in all things from the lakeshore: the Indians, Lake Erie, Drew Carey, rock 'n' roll, and anything with the worst color combination of all time - brown and orange.
It can be said that Cleveland is a baseball town, or a blue collar town, but the truth of Cleveland is that it is Browns Town. I've often said that I would love to be a part of a championship in Cleveland, but to be a part of a Browns' championship would be the most thrilling event in the city's history.
So, why do I bring this up? Because as has been the case far too many times, the Browns and their fans will be watching another Super Bowl filled with those awful yellow towels. But, as a true-blue hater of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I have to take my hat off to them. With a victory, the Steelers will be cementing their place as the premier franchise in football, and that has to be commended. It is a classic case of success and failure - the Steelers have been a well-run and widely successful organization. The Browns ... eh, not so much. The Rooney family, Art and Dan, have been the prime example of pride in ownership for the Steelers. Art Modell was a greedy ego-maniac who got angry at the city and took his team elsewhere. The Steelers dominated the 1970s, and the Browns haven't won a championship since 1964, two years before the Super Bowl existed.
Let's look at it in another way. Since 1970, when the Steelers dynasty took shape, the black and gold have had 10 men (who played or coached since 1970) inducted into the Hall of Fame, not including Art and Dan Rooney. The Browns have had four, Gene Hickerson, Leroy Kelly (who only played until 1973), Ozzie Newsome and Warren's own Paul Warfield.
So what does all that mean? Nothing! Both teams have proud traditions, and both teams have legions of fans that will follow them to the end of the earth and after, which has less to do with the men inside the uniforms than the actual uniforms that they wear.
When it is boiled down as simply as possible, Cleveland fans root for the colors brown and orange, and Pittsburgh fans root for anything in black and gold. That's it. In truth, black and gold are more appealing colors than brown and orange, but to someone like me, those colors make my stomach churn. I'd rather wear brown and orange, not because they look good on me, because they don't, but because I've been raised on a steady diet of hope and the official motto of Cleveland - ''Wait 'til next year.''
I feel that it is time to put aside all of our silly differences. Perhaps it's time to concede, and maybe, just maybe, we would all be happier just becoming friends who believe we should live and let live.
Who am I kidding? This is the best rivalry in sports, and in places like the Mahoning Valley, where Cleveland and Pittsburgh are almost the same distance away, it's so much fun watching as battle lines are drawn every Sunday. Friends who have been friends forever, friends who would do anything for the other will put on opposing jerseys on Sunday and become bitter rivals. And when Monday rolls around, they are as close as family again.
So to answer my friend's question from before, we do this because it's exciting. We do it because we have grown up loving and caring about it, and we teach our kids the same thing. We do it because on the day that ''tomorrow'' finally arrives, we will experience a joy that no other fan can imagine.
Joshua can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or if you yell loud enough, he may hear you.