I miss the good old days.
For sure I miss the days when the Cleveland Browns were winning.
Been awhile, hasn’t it?
I was there in Cleveland on Sunday and this time didn’t witness a Browns victory, settling for five field goals and another loss to the rival Ravens.
But Tuesday I had a chance to reminisce when I interviewed former Browns’ pro bowl defensive back Hanford Dixon.
When he played in Cleveland from 1981 to ’89, the Browns were winning.
He and fellow defensive back Frank Minnifield created the “Dawg Pound” and Dixon was nicknamed the “Top Dawg.”
The “Dawgs” identity became known around the world with the Browns and is still cherished by us fans today.
Sure miss those days, though.
Dixon reminisced with me because he has written a book, “Day of the Dawg.”
While the book delves into Hanford’s days, “growing up on the dusty dirt roads of Theodore, Ala.,” and talks about his high school and college football playing days, my interest immediately turned to the chapters devoted to the Browns.
How Hanford came to hate the Browns main rival the Pittsburgh Steelers because they passed on him in the draft and referred to him as a “midget.”
In fact, Dixon uses a certain word, that is not printable in this column, to describe the Steelers when he mentions them throughout the book.
I loved it.
Two of Dixon’s four favorite games with the Browns were wins versus the Steelers, and I was there for one of them — Oct. 5, 1986. Dixon recalls the Browns finally winning in Pittsburgh, snapping an 0-for-16 Three Rivers Stadium jinx.
It was the weekend of my 10-year reunion from Streetsboro High School, and I had asked my future wife Holly to go with me to the game, too. She had to work, so I went with former Ohio University teammate and future best man at my wedding Steve French. We had a blast.
There is nothing like going into enemy territory and watching your favorite team win, no matter the sport, and that win in Pittsburgh that day ranks as one of my top games ever. It was a beautiful weather day and as for the game itself, we saw two unusual plays that I will never forget. Gerald "The Cube" McNeil ran a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown, and Pittsburgh quarterback Mark Malone reverted back to his college playing days when trying to run an option play in the NFL and fumbled the football late. The Browns recovered and the Three Rivers jinx was over.
Dixon also writes of a couple of lowlights in the book. There have to be when you are talking Browns, right?
Hanford brings up “The Drive” when Broncos quarterback John Elway took his team an improbable 98 yards late in the AFC Championship game to tie the game and send it into overtime. In the book, Dixon blames himself for the drive, letting Denver receiver Mark Jackson get open on a third-and-18 play for a 20-yard gain. The Broncos would go on to score and then win it in OT.
I was in Keith Cunningham’s basement watching the game with a bunch of fellow fans, and was crushed emotionally after the drive and subsequent field goal.
In my basement I still have a copy of the Associated Press headline that had gone out as an urgent moments before the drive.
“The Cleveland Browns are going to the Super Bowl,” it read. I look back at that piece of paper from time to time and wonder, what if?
O.k., now the reminiscing is not good. And that’s what happens with Browns’ memories, they eventually revert to bad ones. “The Drive,” “The Fumble,” Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore, must I go on?
Now I am depressed.
Hanford told me, “that he believes the current Browns are heading in the right direction, but the losing needs to stop.”
Dixon’s book is available everywhere. I am going to read the book now that I have done the interview, but will try to skim through the bad stuff.
Might be a quick read.
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