SOMEWHERE IN ROMANIA — For the first time in either of our lives, my middle son and I will miss the opening of the pro football season, assuming we’re not able to find a sports bar in Transylvania that serves American football and Romanian chicken wings.
I blame this unfortunate development on the National Football League; our father-son trip to this country was planned long before the NFL schedule was announced, but the league didn’t have the courtesy to consult with us.
In our case, misfortune is compounded by the fact that our respective favorite teams are going helmet to helmet against each other in today’s opener. I’m a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan; he’s a fanatical Pittsburgh Steelers fan, which is his mother’s fault.
But all we can do this afternoon is check for updates on our cell phones and try to imagine how the game is going.
In his imagination, the game will consist of Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing 20 or 30 touchdown passes, Le’Veon Bell becoming the first running back ever to rush for 1,000 yards in a single game and the Pittsburgh defense using only six players, because no more than that will be needed to shut down Cleveland’s offense.
As a realist, I picture Cleveland’s quarterbacks throwing 20 or 30 interceptions, the Browns’ running backs refusing to take handoffs because their offensive line is so lousy and the Browns head coach being fired at halftime.
Not all Browns fans are as optimistic as I am, though.
This is, in fact, the first year most of the ones with whom I have spoken agree that this year’s Browns may win even fewer games than last year’s Browns. Which, for the record, was four.
Some Browns fans are hoping that Johnny Manziel will be the quarterback to lead the Browns to the playoff promised land after 50 years in the wilderness, when he’s not otherwise occupied partying, hanging with Canadian rappers or communicating with other teams by way of his middle finger. I have two words for those fans: Brady Quinn.
It’s not that the Browns are without their strong points. Okay, strong POINT.
Based on this year’s preseason games, they appear to have a decent kickoff return team. But counting on your kickoff return team is a questionable strategy, due to the fact that returning kickoffs generally is something you do after the other team has scored.
All things considered, missing the opening game is a small price to pay for the opportunity to spend time together traveling with my son, although he probably can’t wait to get back home to where NFL games are televised.
I, on the other hand, might just stay here until after the Super Bowl.
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