Cleveland: a city, a team, a day in October

Darren D'Altorio

It was a damn-near-perfect Monday in mid-October. Lucky number 13 was the date. Temperatures approached 80 degrees. The skies were sunny, and a pleasant 10 mph breeze lurched off Lake Erie, blowing the smog and sulfur smell away from downtown Cleveland.

Obama was somewhere in the state of Ohio this Monday, talking about politics, economics and other depressing news cloaked in the guise of “hope.” One would hope he took a second to suck in the sweetness of such a gorgeous day.

McCain bounced around North Carolina, speaking about much of the same, except his message was delivered on the maverick wings of “change.”

The more they both talk, the more it sounds like, “Blah, blah, blahhh.”

There were more important things happening on this Monday, aside from the gorgeous weather in Cleveland and people lapping up political rhetoric like it is the last glorious rays of summer sunshine.

Monday was also the celebration of a man many cities in this great country are named after, including the capital city of our fair state – Columbus.

Columbus Day. It’s a yearly treat for school children and the workforce at large. The celebration of a man commissioned by a monarchy to travel across the ocean blue and find what, if anything, exists on the other side.

When he landed on the lush, inhabited lands with his armor-clad fleet he must have been so excited because he forgot to ask the people there what the hell the place was called. He just called it the New World. And now, we celebrate.

The sunshine, mixed with the ignorant holiday, low-at-the-moment gas prices and the looming event of the evening must have been the cause of all the boats out on Lake Erie that day. There were so many masts and sails poking up, silhouetted on the horizon, that Lake Erie looked like a pin cushion.

The stage couldn’t have been set any better for the evening’s showdown. There were giants in town, awaiting battle.

Now, dogs are interesting creatures, as any person who owns one will surely agree. Watching the mannerisms of man’s best friend can be a hypnotizing experience. They are loyal, playful and loving. But when the sun bends through the window and warms that spot on the carpet just the right way, dogs become the most lethargic animals. Watching how they sprawl out, soaking in the warmth is like observing wrinkly, retired grandparents pass out on Florida beaches.

The Cleveland Browns don’t employ the dog mascot for no reason. There is an understanding, a symbolism hidden in the choice. See, the fans are like dogs. Loyal, rowdy, fun-loving, troublemakers poised to cheer and scream from the opening kick to the last goal line stand.

This Monday in October, the dogs had been sunning. When the Giants stepped in front of that rested crowd, they weren’t prepared for the potential energy. All day, the dogs had been eating bratwurst, drinking beer and resting in the sun. Even if they were playing in the sun, it charged them up for the night.

The screams and lingering echoes of the dogs who filled Cleveland Browns stadium forced the Giants to cower and blunder and pushed the home team to perform like superstars. They trounced the defending Superbowl champions with a gritty style only Cleveland can offer.

Running, throwing, tackling, intercepting and slamming the victory home, the Browns gave their fans, the city of Cleveland and much of Northeast Ohio something to be proud of for at least one week.

But, the most amazing thing happened after the game. That’s when the power of the day really took shape. Coach Romeo Crennel, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and quarterback Derek Anderson spoke messages of hope and new beginnings after opening the season with three straight losses. And the fans danced in the aisles of the stadium, together, without a care in the world.

Cleveland is known for being a poor city with bad schools, a smelly lake and disappointing sports teams. But on a day like this, poverty, disappointment and rotting-egg smells evaporate and the city is unified.

Sports hold a power that is not often recognized. It’s almost religious, cult-like. When politicians’ messages all start to sound the same and peoples’ pockets don’t feel as stacked as they once did, a winning performance from the local team can be the facelift that smoothes the tired wrinkles from beneath the eyes of loyal fans.

Cleveland has the most loyal fans and the greatest pride in our sports teams. Don’t ever forget that, people.

And don’t forget about stunning, summer-like days in mid October – they are blessings.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].