Week 11: Browns’ Season of Unrelenting Misery Continues, Darin Breaks Ribs


Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto—a guy who has been a Browns cheerleader all season—actually compared the Browns to a dead rat after the Cowboys loss last weekend. The man is also the paper’s religion columnist, which is probably not a coincidence, and of all the things he could have compared the Browns to, I repeat, he chose a dead rat.

Hey, buddy, how’s your NFL team doing this year?

Oh, you know, fine. How’s yours?

Oh, our team? The top sportswriter in Cleveland thinks our team is diseased vermin.

Really? That’s shocking. With all this parity, you’d think the Browns would be good once in a while?

Yeah, but that’s like expecting a dead rat not to be a dead rat. Once you’re a dead rat, there are not a lot of other things you can be. The ceiling is low when it comes to dead rats. A smelly doorstop, maybe? Something to do with plague research? Perhaps a toy for a child you dislike? That’s the thing about being a dead rat. You can hope it’s something else, but in the end it’s a dead rat.

Who am I talking to?

I’m Browns Fan Vs. Steelers Fan blogger Joe Donatelli. Who are you?

I’m your imagination. Aren’t you stealing this talk-to-yourself bit from that sportswriter you mentioned? Pluto?

Yes, I am. Pluto—I’m stealing your bit this week. Why? I talked to myself all game long. This just seemed appropriate.

You watched the game on Sunday? I thought at some point this season you would throw in the towel. I’m surprised you lasted this long.

I haven’t given up yet, and the reason why I haven’t—and I think most Browns fans will understand this—is because I’m an idiot. I watched the Cowboys game from The Pigskin here in Athens, Ohio this week. It was awful. At no point did I think we would win, even when we were winning.

At least this was an exciting game.

Not really. True story: I had promised my wife we would hike Bong Hill (no, that’s not a euphemism for anything, it’s an actual place in Athens, and yes, it got its name for exactly the reason you think it did) after the game. She called as the game went into overtime. “Can I pick you up?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “Did the Browns win?” she asked. “It’s in overtime,” I said. “Don’t you want to watch the end of the game?” she asked. “No,” I said, “I know how it ends. Come get me.”

And that’s how I came to miss the end of the Cowboys debacle on Sunday. I knew how it would end for the Cleveland Dead Rats because this roster, coaching staff and entire organization are infected with some kind of football loser plague, and I’m tired of watching them, and I’m tired of writing about them, so let’s talk about something more enjoyable such as making fun of the Steelers, whose march to a first-round playoff loss was interrupted by a truly mediocre Baltimore Ravens team this week.

OK, let’s talk about Steelers. They lost to the Ravens. That had to make you happy.

A Ravens win never makes me happy.

OK, but the Steelers lost at least.

Yeah, but the AFC (NFL: JV!) is so putrid they’ll probably still make the playoffs, even with Princess Sparkle Pony on the sidelines.

Princess Sparkle Pony?

That’s why I call Ben Roethlisberger, the toughest bastard to always be afflicted with nagging injuries that may or may not be serious to ever play the game.

Isn’t that what Darin wrote last week?

Yeah, except Darin wrote that before we learned that this latest injury could kill the Steelers’ QB and EVERYONE IN PITTSBURGH. OK, I added that last bit. I hope Ben is OK, and that his injuries are not serious, but of course he is the first QB I can remember who gets a rib injury that could kill him. Of course.

It’s crazy that the Steelers don’t have a viable backup, right?

Completely. For a team that expects to contend for the Super Bowl every year, and that supposedly drafts so well, how they don’t have a slightly-above-mediocre quarterback behind Ben on the roster is beyond me. Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch are fine quarterbacks if your goal is to win the MAC East. But neither of those guys has what it takes to carry a team to the Super Bowl, and this Steeler team, unlike years past, doesn’t have the running game and clutch receiving to cover up bad backup QB play.

No takeaways in that Ravens game. They must really miss Troy Polamalu.

Yeah, but here’s the thing. Not having Troy Polamalu lining up at safety is something every other NFL team has to deal with, too. It’s not like the Steelers lost their Troy Polamalu, but all of the other teams still have their Troy Polamalus. The Steelers have to do what every other team in the NFL does—play without Troy Polamalu. Our safety is a guy named Usama Young. I look forward to watching him make a solo tackle at some point this season. I don’t want to hear it.

This is a little off-topic, but is it me, or have the Steelers been particularly insufferable this season?

Oh, it’s not you. The sense of entitlement is ridiculous. It’s off the charts. Even Darin has noticed it, and he views the entire world through his yellow-colored towel. Look at this guy. His team has won six Super Bowls, all of which it looks like he was alive to see (maybe not conscious to see, but alive), and his team is a perennial contender with a good owner and good coach and a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Oh, what happened here, did the ref call holding on Willie “Holding, 10-Yard Penalty” Colon?

I’m a Steelers fan. One bad thing happened. I’m so upset. Wah!

You really showed that ref, Middle-Finger Steelers Fan and Evil Futuristic Sammy Hagar.

Browns-Cowboys image stolen from Fort Worth Star-Telegram


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The crazy thing is, immediately after that unexpected beginning, I think I just broke two ribs and can hardly write.

Yes, this actually happened. What?! No, I’m not totally sure, except that I am. Yes.

Wait, after writing that last sentence, I just remembered that the entire right side of my body is in intense, sharp pain every time I lift my arm or move a finger, and that two ribs are probably, definitely broken. So I will keep writing.


Huh, that’s strange. The more I think about the fact that I just broke two of my ribs, the more I’m determined to hang in there and just show everyone what I can do. I want to prove myself even though there’s a chance I’m putting this entire blog season in jeopardy.

As you might have assumed, yes, that just smarted a bit. It’s almost as if something’s wrong with the collection of bony and cartilaginous structure that surrounds my thoracic cavity and supports my pectoral girdle, forming a core portion of my skeleton. You know, my rib cage. The one that currently includes two broken ribs.

People — nice people with good intentions, who probably hope I can finish — just walked into the room and looked at me holding my side. They saw me squinting, as if I just broke two ribs. One of them said, “Darin, are you OK? You really don’t seem to look the same. Something seems amiss. Perhaps you’re injured? Did you hurt your shoulder?”

I looked at them and said, “I’m OK, I’m OK.”

What I really meant to say was, “I am certainly not OK. Have you watched me for the last few minutes? I’m starting to believe everyone who reads this will completely understand that I am not currently OK. Every time I look down at my keyboard and stare at a letter — let’s just use J as an example — I let out a slight moan and then I get the sensation that a large commuter train — let’s just use Amtrak as an example —  has just rammed into my right side, potentially breaking two of my ribs.”

But instead, I just said, “I’m OK, I’m OK.”

I have no idea why I plan to continue.

I know full well there’s another person here, Charlie, who can finish for me. He is sitting over there staring at me now, as I’m writhing on the floor, wailing and wailing, my keyboard just barely within reach of my outstretched pointer fingers.

Well, maybe I didn’t break my ribs. I remember that the most common cause of a fractured rib is a direct blow to the chest, often from a viscious hit from an NFL linebacker, but sometimes when you’re just jumping into the endzone to celebrate an unexpected 33-yard touchdown run.

Charlie is decent. He could finish this well. He has done so in several similar situations before, and he could do it again, despite having headphones that look like they were just removed from a 1984 Sony Walkman.

Hang on. No, I’ll just finish.

Instead of telling anyone about my two broken ribs, I’m going to attempt one long one sentence that will cause everyone to stand and applaud! I can do this! People think I’m strong enough, and this will be my shining moment of the season, and I’ll prove them right! They will finally see I should be doing this every day!


I’m ready. This is it. I see an opportunity to be the hero. Here it goes:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and he agagabap7buabnat[paugabba b$@^WHH#!@!*&!.


Short and unusually off the mark.

This is because I have 22 non-broken ribs. And the average adult human has 24 ribs. Which means two of my ribs are broken.

Which means the Steelers lost to the Ravens, 13-10.

Which means Pittsburgh’s best defensive game of the year was flushed down the crapper. Which means the Ravens are slightly above average, but nowhere near great. Which means the following Mike Tomlin’s post-game press conference comment is super-scary: “Byron did a nice job of communicating where he was and, more than anything, we just wanted to do a nice job of communicating.”

Which means I have no idea what happens next, other than everyone in Pittsburgh asking a friend or neighbor about the current employment status of Dennis Dixon.

Which means, Steelers, just get in. Just find a way to get in the playoffs. You’re all scheduled to be healthy at roughly the same time. And you’ll be dangerous. No one will want to play you.

Just. Get. In.



About Joe Donatelli

I am a Browns fan. My life is sad.
This entry was posted in browns suck, steelers suck. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Week 11: Browns’ Season of Unrelenting Misery Continues, Darin Breaks Ribs

  1. Reblogged this on ProjectBennyBlanco's Blog and commented:
    Great read for Browns fans!

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