View Full Version : Playing In Cleveland Never Fun...

09-08-2008, 11:34 PM
Playing in Cleveland never fun

Former Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson, an analyst for NFL Networkís ďTotal Access,Ē will be sharing his thoughts with assistant editor Teresa Varley throughout the 2008

When you played in Cleveland, you got dog biscuits thrown at you and who knows what else, but you knew if you won that game you were one up in the division.

With the Steelers-Browns rivalry, you felt outside pressure to win. All week long you heard fans talk about the Browns, almost pleading with us to beat Cleveland. So many fans who lived in Pittsburgh had family and friends in Cleveland, and thatís a lot of pressure.

The two cities are so close that the fans can just drive there, and that adds to the intensity of the rivalry. Fans of both teams can just hop in a car and drive to the game in the opposing teamís city, and having a crowd where people are rooting for both teams makes it even better, more intense.

I hated playing in Cleveland. Old Cleveland Stadium was always muddy, it was dirty. It had the smallest visitorsí locker room in NFL history, and on top of all that you had to deal with the Dawg Pound. That made it even worse.

At that end of the field you got biscuits thrown at you, cups, bottles, and there werenít a lot of nice things being said to you. It was fun because if you could beat them there you shut them up. That was the goal, to not have to listen to those fans get on you because you were beating their team.

When I first played against Cleveland, in my rookie year of 1987, I learned right then and there about the rivalry. I remember the opener in 1989, at Three Rivers Stadium, and
they beat us like we stole something. They beat us 51-0. They were hitting us hard, rubbing it in our faces.

Thatís when you realize these guys really donít like us, and itís all because we wear black-and-gold. You talk about that stuff in college, but you live it in the NFL.

It was embarrassing to lose like that. You get beat like that and there is nothing to say, not, ďWeíll get them next time,Ē because itís not like we lost by three. We lost by 51. It
was a thumper. It hurts your pride as an athlete, as a man. You try to redeem yourself. Thatís all you can do.

Itís embarrassing to the team and the city because the city now has a black eye to Cleveland.

When we lost that one, all of their players talked. They were rubbing it in. They really were. I canít remember one player in particular, but I remember guys getting hit, the ball is coming out and they are standing over players mocking them. Thatís a real rivalry,
one where if the opponent had an opportunity to hit you and hurt you, they were going to do it.

We had a chance to pay them back some in 1994, when we beat them three times in the same season. Itís hard to beat a team three times in a year, especially a division rival,
and even if there werenít any thumpers, they were three convincing wins, including the one in the playoffs that sent the Browns home. Thatís when we felt like we arrived
as a football team. We were good enough to beat the Cleveland Browns three times in one year. It was a coming-out party for our football team, and I was involved with it.

The rivalry has changed, because as Joey Porter said, how can it be a rivalry when one team is always winning. Thatís true, but if it takes a little bit out of it, the satisfaction is
still there. Itís still the Cleveland Browns; itís still the Dawg Pound. To the fans it still means everything, itís about the bragging rights and you want to keep those bragging rights, no matter if itís for one year or 10 years in a row.

The 2008 Cleveland team is a different one than the ones the Steelers have been beating regularly. On offense, Derek Anderson came in last year and played well at quarterback, and the Browns receiving corps is impressive with Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius when healthy, and Donteí Stallworth.

If the Browns are in their threewide-receiver set with Jamal Lewis at running back, that is a deadly offense and one of the better ones in the NFL because they can score points and threaten a defense in so many ways.

During the offseason, the Browns upgraded their defense by trading for linemen Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams to go along with a pretty sold group of linebackers. The
Achillesí heel of that defense could be the secondary, if anything. They traded Leigh Bodden for Rogers, which came out to losing your best cover guy for a run stuffer. The Browns tried to do the right things in the offseason to make their team more competitive, and it looks like they have the offense and now are trying to strengthen the defense.

They can be a dangerous team.

Winslow is a glorified receiver playing tight end; Braylon had a breakout year; Stallworth is a veteran receiver who knows how to play in this league. They have the weapons to pose matchup problems for any defense they face.

There is a lot of talk about the Browns now. People know the Pittsburgh Steelers are good, a solid football team, but theyíre also intrigued about the explosive power of the
Browns offense.

When people talk about the AFC North, theyíre focusing on Cleveland and the offense the Browns had last year. Theyíre forgetting about the Steelers and arenít even talking
about Baltimore or Cincinnati. The emphasis is on the Browns.

If you play for the Steelers, your ego is bruised and you want to show them when you play them.

09-08-2008, 11:43 PM
Itís hard to beat a team three times in a year, especially a division rival

Sorry to break it to you, Rod, but there is no possible way to play a team three times in a year that is not a division rival, so the "especially a division rival" part is unnecessary (pre-season games don't count).

09-09-2008, 12:13 AM
Itís hard to beat a team three times in a year, especially a division rival

Sorry to break it to you, Rod, but there is no possible way to play a team three times in a year that is not a division rival, so the "especially a division rival" part is unnecessary (pre-season games don't count).

:lol: :lol: ..... Damn! you're not only ruthless, but also heartless!..... :lol: :lol: