It didn’t take long for the manure to hit the fan in Baltimore during the Monday Night Football broadcast from Cleveland on ESPN after Jon Gruden made his comments regarding the Ravens and their “historic contributions” to the NFL’s newest drive to market hideously grotesque old AFL laundry.
While swimming in the sea of obvious insensitivity and double negatives that encompass every Ravens-Browns matchup since Art Modell moved his franchise to the Charm City in 1996, Gruden uttered one of the more ignorant one-liners since Bob Trumpy wished us bad weather and cold hot dogs back in September of that fateful year: “If the Ravens wore their throwback jerseys, they’d be the Browns.”
While I was awash in the WNST Purple Haze chat room as well as scanning Twitter and Facebook, I saw that the Baltimore folks were bristling in social media during the second quarter. At halftime, I chased down Ron Jaworski, who I knew pretty well from our days working together at NFL Films on Mondays a decade ago and told him to deliver a message to Gruden for me: “If the Ravens wore their throwback jerseys, they’d ACTUALLY be blue and white with a horseshoe on them! But those were stolen from us, never to return – except of course this weekend when Peyton Manning and his group will be kind enough to come to our stadium and parade around in them in front of us for the 26th consecutive year.”
Look, I’m a Gruden fan – in virtually every way! He’s always been my favorite NFL coach and I even documented meeting him with this video two years ago at the Owners Meetings when he was still the head coach of Tampa Bay.
He’s by far the best coach-turned-broadcaster on national television and that’s in no way to be disrespectful to my partner and friend, Brian Billick.
Chucky is pretty freaking good on the air — and apparently re-upped for two more years with ESPN yesterday — but this latest comment has really chapped my ass and put him on my manure list.
Clearly, Gruden is a big lifer Cleveland Browns fan (not to mention a closet admirer of Brady Quinn, apparently) and no doubt smelled an opportunity to ingratiate himself to the Greater Ohio and Cuyahoga region while he auditions as the next coach of this or some other woebegone franchise somewhere down the road. Gruden wants to work as a head coach again. Cleveland is a better place for him to cozy up to than Baltimore at this point.
But, is Gruden this ignorant to the actual facts? Was he being insensitive or just stupid? Or was he holding “open mic” night in an audition for how much he’d love to wear ugly orange gear without a logo and a quarterback sometime in the future?
But Gruden owes Baltimore an apology. Especially this week!
Our history and “throwback” uniform will be visiting our city again this weekend awash in stolen memories, identity, colors and markings in the form of Peyton Manning, who continues to wear the laundry that was pilfered in the middle of the night more than 25 years ago.
It’s like a continual knock on the door from your ex-wife, who is flaunting what you used to have.
To hear Gruden say something as stupid as what he did on Monday night is just sad. And for Jaworski or Mike Tirico to not correct him is just as bad. And I let Jaworski know what was on my mind.
To be honest, I’m tired of hearing about what was stolen from Cleveland. I was there in the Mistake on the Lake on Monday night. For any Clevelander or fan of the Browns, NOTHING is gone, except the good judgment of Art Modell, who guided the franchise to the playoffs 17 times in 35 years, but is somehow now regarded as a buffoon even after their new franchise has only tasted the playoffs once in 11 years after being reborn with their original hideous uniforms, logo-less helmets and empty shelf space awaiting a shiny silver trophy that we’ve managed to win as a community twice.
It’s “Colts Week” here and Baltimore and so I’m especially sensitive this week.
I also spent the day with a busload of Baltimoreans at the Hall of Fame in Canton, where we’ll show you all of the “discrepancies” that still exist in the only place where the NFL’s history is “celebrated.” Just stay tuned to wnsTV for that…
Between spending the day in a museum that snubs its nose at all things Baltimore – from the records of Johnny Unitas and company under the sub-heading “Indianapolis” to the obvious disrespectful lack of acknowledgement for Art Modell’s contributions not only to the NFL but to the city of Baltimore and making us whole into perpetuity – I’m admittedly a little pissy this week.
So, how did Gruden’s comments sit with you? And how do they sit knowing that no one around here ever seems to defend anything Baltimore, including the continued banishment of Modell from a bronze bust and a moment in the sun in his ninth decade on the planet after serving the NFL for more than half of his life.
Art Modell might never get into the Hall of Fame because of cretins like Tony Grossi and his ilk, but it’s never going to stop me from yelling at full voice.
Of course, Baltimore has always seemed to get even on the field. And we did again on Monday in Cleveland. As a matter of fact, Cleveland still hasn’t scored.
But the city of losers in Ohio always seems to find the sympathy in defeat and despair that seems to be its civic calling card.
Hey Cleveland, want some whine with that cheese?
Maybe Chucky The Rat can feed it to you in a few weeks when Mangini gets shown the gate after another gloriuos 3-13 campaign?
I’ve got your “throwback jersey” right here.
Or, at least I will at 1 p.m. on Sunday…