Written by: Jon Bozeka (@JonBozeka)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report
Did you know Cleveland used to be one of the ten largest cities in the United States? It housed over 900,000 people. From the 1890’s to the 1970’s, Cleveland was booming. It was a hotbed for manufacturing, high society and sports. Cleveland had everything from great business to large amounts of culture, and they even housed the greatest football team in the world.
Cleveland, Ohio was great and it was a big city with the bright lights to prove it. In 1964 when the Browns won the world championship, it seemed like things couldn’t get any better. Funny thing is that they haven’t won the championship since 1964 and nothing has gone right for the city since.
The factories left, poverty and crime hit the streets, and Cleveland became a shell of its booming past. The lights from the city shine bright at night, but the echoes of past generations are all that is heard walking down Euclid after hours. The city is a ghost town begging for a resurgence of life.
Sports are a different story too. The city has seen chances come and go multiple times. Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Decision and Game 7 have all occurred since 1964.
Art Modell, Michael Jordan and John Elway are all hated in Cleveland, just as much as the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland went from the model city to the mistake by the lake in a heartbeat. Being an Akronite myself, I grew up watching Cleveland sports and became a die-hard fan. Now that I am about to turn 21 this summer, I realized something. If you aren’t a fan, you don’t get it. You don’t understand the pain, and never will.
If you walk about town in Cleveland, you will see a lot of different things. Everything you see will tell a different story. The buildings, the art, the food and the people of Cleveland all have a story of their own. Yet they all have something in common, they are all waiting. Waiting for the day to make East 9th come back to life. Waiting to line the sidewalk with fans celebrating a championship. Waiting for that day to come.
Cleveland fans have suffered far more than anyone needs to. Cleveland is a blue-collar town and that’s what I love about it. The people are real and they don’t try to gloss over their current situation. They know times are hard and they understand that the city is sitting on thin ice. One wrong step and all is lost, but even if all were lost, pride would always be found.
Cleveland may be rising in unemployment, but damn are the people proud to say that they once housed the great Jim Brown at Municipal Stadium. To say they were there the night Len Barker pitch his perfect game and to say they were once witnesses to the king.
Hell, even proud to say they threw batteries at John Elway in a regular season game against the Denver Broncos in 1988. People say I am crazy because I love Cleveland as much as I do, but what else am I supposed to do?
The thing is, teams and talent come and go, but we never leave, that is the Cleveland way. The people never stop rooting for their city. Sure, times may suck, but we put on our hard hats and go to work like nothing has happened. Sports are the one thing we have to look forward to, sports are the one thing we never lost.
I sat down one day to watch a replay of “The Drive” game with my parents. This is where John Elway went 98 yards in the 4th quarter of the 1986 AFC championship game to tie the Browns and ultimately win in overtime. Each time, Elway drives the distance and my parent’s hearts sink, but each time they relive the glory that once was.
The game is a replay, but my parents show the excitement as if it were happening today. Anyone who watched it that day has that same reaction. They don’t look at it with the outcome in mind, they watch it and think about how proud they were to have a team that was that good. Sure a win would have been great, but to say we can hang with the best of them may have been greater. My parents are waiting for that day, along with the rest of the city.
So now here I am, waiting for that day to come. I am proud to call Cleveland my favorite city and I am proud to say all of my favorite teams are in Cleveland. I am proud to say I will never leave its side, my job may take me elsewhere, but my heart will never leave. I will always be proud of my city whether they win, lose or draw. Times may change, but I won’t…. we as fans of Cleveland won’t. So here we will sit waiting, waiting for the day to come when the entire world is as proud of Cleveland as we are.
Also, a friendly reminder to join us on July 5th for the 2014 ‘Our Sports Report’ Wiffle Ball Summer Classic in lovely Fredericktown, Ohio. For more information on playing in or sponsoring the tournament, PLEASE CLICK HERE! Hope to see you on July 5th!