Cleveland Browns Fan Guide to Hating the Pittsburgh Steelers
Rivalries are part of what makes watching sports so compelling and few are more bitter in the NFL than Cleveland versus Pittsburgh.
The Dawg Pound against the Terrible Towels. Orange and brown clashing with black and gold. Hatred carrying on through generations like the Montague's and Capulet's from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.
Maybe that's a tad dramatic, however, the deep seeded grudge is real. How did this intense feud begin?
Separated by only 137 miles of highway, the close proximity of the two cities made it a natural fit for the NFL to slide them into the same division once Cleveland joined the league from the All-America Football Conference in 1950.
It also made it easy for supporters of both sides to travel over state lines into hostile territory and make either stadium a raucous atmosphere. Battling twice a year every season also helped to build bad blood.
Both locations shared many similarities. Its residents were blue collar, industrial and loved hard-nosed football.
It may be difficult for Browns loyalists to believe, but back when the first game was played on October 7, 1950 it was the club from Northeast Ohio that was a dominant force.
The good guys won in convincing fashion 30-17 by the way. Since then they have faced one another more often than any other AFC opponents - 124 times.
During that first decade, the hapless Steelers were no match for Paul Brown's squad that held such esteemed names as Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Marion Motley and Jim Brown.
Cleveland was victorious in the first eight match-ups and were only defeated four times during those initial twenty meetings.
In fact, the crew by Lake Erie had bragging rights for over 20 years.
Then the rivalry took a turn when former Browns player, Chuck Noll, grabbed the reigns as head coach for Pittsburgh in 1969 and by 1974 had Steel Town winning Super Bowls.
Browns Fans- What is Your Most Memorable Rivalry Moment versus the Steelers?
It wouldn't be the last time that someone who wore orange and brown on the field would come back to haunt his former team from Pittsburgh's sideline.
Incredibly, Noll was replaced as head coach by Bill Cowher who played the same position as his predecessor (linebacker) in Cleveland. Cowher was also a special teams and secondary coach for the Browns from 1985-1988 and slipped away when not given a greater opportunity with the club.
Cowher's Superbowl ring in 2005, as well as his 149-90-1 coaching record, continues to make the Dawg Pound wonder "what if" and adds to the ferocity of this feud.
At one point the Browns led the head-to-head series by 23 games, however, on a Thursday night battle in 2006 the Steelers pulled even 55-55 at Heinz Field. They haven't looked back and now are ahead 58-66.
Top 5 Most Memorable Rivalry Moments
5. On Christmas Eve 2005, Pittsburgh was on the road and leading Cleveland 41-0 into the fourth quarter. A decked out Browns fan rushed onto the field only to be met by the much hated James Harrison.
The outside linebacker crushed this rowdy spectator into the dirt with a body-slam and it put an exclamation point on the humiliation felt by Browns followers everywhere.
An honorable mention also needs to go to Harrison for his helmet-to-helmet blow on quarterback Colt McCoy in 2011 that resulted in a concussion to McCoy. The unsportsmanlike play was deemed illegal by the league and resulted in a single game suspension.
Ironically, Harrison grew up in Akron, Ohio and his favorite club was the Browns.
4. Many of the Browns/Steelers encounters during the 1970s were especially ferocious. This may have been summed up best in October 1976 at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.
At one point, Browns defensive end Joe "Turkey" Jones hoisted Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw high into the air and smashed him head first into the turf.
Bradshaw was sidelined for the next two games.
3. The orange and brown returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 expansion in 2002. It turned out to be a wild card contest inside the intimidating confines of Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.
These two franchises had only met one other time in the postseason and that ended in a Steelers "W" back in 1994.
Cleveland was poised to avenge that defeat as they held a two possession lead and under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It was not to be.
The Steelers executed a miraculous comeback and decimated the Dawg Pound's dream of a playoff run.
2. Beloved Browns quarterback and Ohio native Bernie Kosar holds a special trophy in the rivalry. No. 19 orchestrated the worse loss in Steelers history.
On opening day in 1989 at old Three Rivers Stadium, Cleveland embarrassed Pittsburgh 51-0. It also marked seven straight victories against the black and gold.
1. For all the nasty words, actions and feelings over the decades, there is a deep respect between these legendary NFL teams.
In 1995 it was announced that Art Modell intended to move the Browns to Baltimore the following season. Hosting Cleveland on Monday Night Football, Steelers fans wore orange arm bands to honor and support their Ohio counterparts.
Readers- what is your favorite Browns vs Steelers rivalry moment? Share them in the comments section below.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist. Follow him on Twitter @AndyMc81
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