It was another delightful January day on Wednesday with temperatures warm enough to give you an early case of spring fever.
As I breathed in all that was good about the day, I was blindsided by an ESPN feature on the 25th anniversary of "The Drive." Suddenly everything became gloomy as my mind went back in time to that day in 1987 at Cleveland Stadium.
I can safely assume that work production the day after John Elway's legendary 98-yard drive spearheaded a 23-20 overtime win for the Denver Broncos dropped significantly. That's assuming any Browns fan could get out of bed and make it to work.
Little did anyone know that it was just the beginning of bad times. We all know what happened the next year in Denver when Earnest Byner's fumble might have been a bigger disappointment because of the great second-half comeback the Browns had staged against the Broncos.
I was assigned to cover the 1986 AFC Championship for the Tribune Chronicle, along with then-Browns beat reporter Jim Swearingen. Jim sat in the football press box. I was put in the baseball press box, which was in the closed end of the stadium.
I can still remember Mark Moseley's bouncing kickoff following Brian Brennan's touchdown reception being covered up by Ken Bell at the 2-yard line. The 2-yard line! There's no way the Broncos were going to march 98 yards to tie the game.
Elway then calmly worked his magic, leading to a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson. You knew destiny was on the side of the Broncos when a shotgun snap hit off the left hip of receiver Steve Watson, who was running in motion, and somehow landed safely in Elway's hands. He then drilled a 20-yard pass to Jackson on a third-and-18 play.
The Broncos won the game on a 33-yard field goal by Rich Karlis that an official stationed under the left upright "ruled" to have been inside the pole. My seat was directly behind the goal post, and to this day I think the ball would have hit off the upright. Which way it would have bounced remains a question for the ages.
Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson, who participated in the ESPN feature, said that he told his teammates to get off the field. "I didn't know if it was good," Jackson said.
Thanks, Tom, that makes Browns fans feel so much better.
After the game I headed to a tent set up outside the Broncos' locker room. When Elway was brought in, he stood on a platform a few feet in front of me.
Thinking back on that now, there were some Browns fans who probably wouldn't have been allowed to get that close to Elway right after he had ripped out their hearts. When you mix anger with binge drinking, who knows where Elway's body might have surfaced in Lake Erie.
The Drive instantly placed the Broncos on the list of most-hated teams among distraught Cleveland fans.
No one cheered louder for the New York Giants to beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, which they did by a score of 39-20.
The Broncos long remained a hated rival until last Sunday, when Tim Tebow's overtime touchdown pass sank the Pittsburgh Steelers. There's no way a true Browns fan wanted the Steelers to win that game, no matter what they think of Tebow.
The only positive that came from The Drive was the belief that the Browns were close. In another year or two they would be in the Super Bowl, we said as we drank the orange-colored Kool-Aid.
Twenty-five years and 16 losing seasons later, we know how wrong we were.