An Opportunity for Class & Defiance during the NFL's mandatory moment of silence for Art Modell
Dearest Fellow Cleveland Browns Fans:
This has been a rough week leading up to the first game of the 2012 season. Early Wednesday, Cleveland lost one of the biggest villains in its collective history with Art Modell's passing.
The memories were flowing over on Twitter. There was so much anger and venting and telling others how they should or shouldn't feel about the situation. It was rather uncomfortable at times.
I didn't realize that it's still an open wound for so many of us. Some have found closure. Others talked about the good Modell did in Cleveland...before he took our team and his philanthropy to Baltimore.
I couldn't help but be reminded of Mark Antony's soliloquy in Julius Caesar as I heard people attack and defend the man who moved our beloved Browns in such a dirty deal, yet donated millions and helped many.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
Act 3, scene ii
My own feeling was one of apathy. To me, Modell died the day he took our team away. He died even more when I saw him celebrating with the Lombardi Trophy. He's been a non-issue in my life for all these years. I'm the simple fan who, win or lose, is just happy to have a team called the Browns. Seeing those brown and orange jerseys taking the field gives me a sense of comfort and stability in this sometimes crazy world. It's true - I don't ask for much as a football fan. I don't even ask for a team that wins. To me, not having a team at all hurts more than a season full of losses.
That could have been our Browns winning the Super Bowl. Instead, we've had twelve years of struggle and strife, rebuilding and more rebuilding, and now, Pat Shurmur.
We can agree to disagree. We all despised Art Modell to varying degrees. And it's perfectly fine that for some of us, the white-hot anger has cooled. And it's ok that for others, the pain is still so fresh and alive within us.
But now there's a tricky little catch:
NFL commish Roger Goodell (recently, he's more like Roger BADdell) has mandated that all teams have a moment of silence for the former devil of Municipal Stadium before their games this Sunday. Even before this order came down from on high, Browns fans were in agreement about one thing:
THERE SHOULD BE NO PRE-GAME TRIBUTE TO MODELL IN CLEVELAND.
NO MOMENT OF SILENCE. NOTHING.
But Supreme Dictator for Life Commissioner Baddell apparently wants our fans to embarrass themselves, which they will undoubtedly do. I am willing to stake my life on it. Anger plus booze never yields anything good. I'm just glad there won't be any bottles permitted in the stands. That would be very Baddell indeed.
SO, FROM ONE BROWNS FAN TO MANY OTHERS:
I'M IMPLORING YOU TO REMAIN CALM DURING THIS MANDATORY SO-CALLED TRIBUTE TO ART MODELL.
INSTEAD OF PROTESTING, BOOING, CURSING, KICKING BUTT AND TAKING NAMES, AND GENERALLY MAKING A SPECTACLE OF OURSELVES...
SIMPLY STAND UP AND TURN AROUND.
FACE AWAY FROM THE FIELD.
And as the television cameras pan around Cleveland Browns Stadium, our silence and our turned backs will be A POWERFUL TESTIMONY TO OUR STRENGTH, SOLIDARITY AND YES, OUR CLASS.
WE CAN SPEAK VOLUMES TO THE MODELL FAMILY, THE NFL, AND THE MEDIA WITHOUT SAYING A SINGLE WORD.
Anyone can yell expletives at the top of their lungs. But it takes a real champion to keep his or her mouth shut and act out in SILENT defiance.
We don't need "Modell Tributegate" or "MomentofSilencegate" or whatever stupid name the media could coin which ends in "-gate."
As fans, we don't need to embarrass ourselves.
The Browns will do that for us.