Despite the jubilation that I expressed today in the “Another Washington Redskins Season Is Upon Us” piece, I got very emotional and choked up when I read it back to myself. I started to reflect back to that time when I had nothing but summer magazines to fill a football offseason with in the late eighties and early nineties, and my mind was immediately filled with memories of a good friend. Back in those dog days, I talked football with pretty much only one guy, my friend Paul. Paul was the biggest Cleveland Browns fan that you ever did meet. It saddens me greatly to write that in a past tense, but you see, he died of a heart attack a couple of weeks ago.
He was just 45 years old.
He was the biggest football fan that I know, or ever knew. I would even say that in the early days, despite liking different teams, Paul’s level of fandom greatly inspired my own, and to start this site in the first place. I wanted to get to Paul’s level of knowledge, though I never will.
He was a great man. A great father. A great husband. A great son. A great brother. And one of the greatest friendships that i ever had the fortune of having in my life.
I don’t want to write something morose about Paul – especially not attached to football – he wouldn’t want that. I thought that I would instead opt for what I hope is a comedic anecdote, a great memory about my friend.
I have told this story so many times, that I have learned to generalize, keep it quick, and stick to a third party relaying of the events… I don’t think it’s folk lore at this point, but I’m working on it.
Many, many moons ago, the London Police Department paid a visit to the home of my friend Paul. They knocked on the door on a Sunday. During a Browns game – a divisional game. The nerve of it.
They were responding to a report of domestic violence that had been called into them. There were reports of screaming. And of yelling. Bedlum and chaos. Perhaps even of the overturning, or throwing of furniture.
And it was all true.
Well all except for the domestic violence part, that doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Paul, but all of the rest of it was true. But Paul was alone.
He was just watching a Browns game.
That was just Paul. Even if i didn’t get the story just right – it couldn’t be more plausible given the subject anyway. Because seriously, that really was just Paul.
So if you’re a Cleveland fan, and you’re watching the game this weekend – expect inclement weather conditions. A violent storm. You can expect to hear thunder every time Cleveland scores a touchdown.
It’s just Paul yelling down from above.
And when I hear that thunder, I will raise a glass to the heavens, in hopes of finding his glass just one last time…
I love you, and I will miss you my friend.