Before someone gets smart; yes, this article does relate to the Indianapolis Colts even though the title makes no mention of them.
Remember back in 2008 when the Colts traveled to Cleveland and played the Browns on a sloppy, cold field? We saw then-Browns coach Romeo Crennel attempt to play "keep away" from the Colts offense, doing as little as possible with his own offense and maximizing his defense's potential to stall the Colts offense.
Well, the Browns quarterback for that game was Derek Anderson, who has been a Pro Bowler the year before for the surprising 10-6 Browns. But, in 2008, luck and timing just were not on Cleveland's side. They were the dregs of the AFC North once again, and the often-notorious rabble that is the "Dawg Pound" was getting restless.
For much of the contest with the Colts, the Browns had the lead. However, in the fourth quarter, Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney took over. We blogged about it at the time:
At about the 10 minute mark in the 4th quarter, Derek Anderson dropped back to complete a 3rd and long. Dwight Freeney bull rushed arguably the best LT in football (Joe Thomas) and stripped the ball from Anderson. Robert Mathis found the fumble, scooped it up, and ran 37 yards for a TD. After the extra point: Colts 10-Browns 6.
Game. Set. Match.
After they lost the lead, the gameplan for the Browns was scrapped. The next series, Derek Anderson needed to drive the length of the field and score a TD to get the win. The results were disastrous and embarrassing for the Cleveland Browns and their fans.
With less than a minute to go on 2nd down, Anderson was sacked by Robert Mathis, who copied Freeney by bull rushing the RT this time. He knocked the tackle into Anderson, which resulted in a sack. Anderson injured his MCL on the play, and sadly his season is over. Back-up Ken Dorsey came in and promptly threw a pick to Antoine Bethea (keeping with the Melvin Bullitt and Bob Sanders tradition of safeties coming up with big INTs to win games this year).
When Anderson was injured on that play, several thousand Browns fans did what fans are never supposed to do in any situation.
They cheered the injury.
Now, this cheering was not just heard by the Colts, the Browns faithful, and everyone else in attendance. It was heard, and remembered with bitter detail, by Derek Anderson. Anderson was released from the Browns yesterday as part of new football czar Mike Holmgren's efforts to put his stamp on the club.
Before departing Cleveland, Anderson took the time to bitch-slap the Browns fans that cheered his injury in 2008:
"The fans are ruthless and don't deserve a winner," Anderson said. "I will never forget getting cheered when I was injured. I know at times I wasn't great. I hope and pray I'm playing when my team comes to town and [we] roll them."
My first reaction is to applaud Anderson. Any fan who cheers an injury is a scumbag and deserves a swift kick to the balls. For years, I watched Dan Marino torch my Colts, but I never, EVER heard any Colts fan cheer when Marino went down with an Achilles injury in the early 1990s. We also had some truly awful teams in Indy for damn near 20 years, and I never saw fans cheer a Colts player's unfortunate injury. Not even Jeff George.
So, yes. The Cleveland Browns fans who cheered that injury are douchebags and clearly do not deserve a winner. Obviously, not all Browns fans cheered that moment, but the injury and the euphoria that followed were yet another black mark on a fanbase that is known for this sort of stuff.
I'd have more respect for Anderson if he stuck to his words and followed them up by destroying the Browns every chance he got. Unfortunately, he chickened out and issued an apology statement.
I'm an equal opportunity basher. If I ever attended a Colts game that featured fans cheering the injury of someone like Tim Jennings (a player many Colts fans loathed), I'd log in here and start attacking the character and intelligence of the very fanbase who reads this blog. As fans, we are given a lot of wiggle room. We're allowed to get embarrassingly drunk before the game, shout insults that would make your grandmother's heart stop to players during the game, and call-in to talk radio shows just to demand the head coach's head on a pike after the game.
However, the unwritten rule of fandom is you never, EVER cheer an injury. People who do not understand or abide by this rule are people who deserve nothing less than 30 minutes in a confined space with a starved, rapid mountain lion.
Hopefully, Anderson will land on his feet. I certainly would not mind seeing him here in Indy as a back-up to Peyton Manning, but that won't happen. Teams like the Rams, Vikings, Seahawks, and Cardinals will likely make strong plays for Anderson who sports a ton of talent.
Also, once again I'll stress that not all Browns fans cheered that injury, and I'm sure a few more got into it with their own for doing so. Those people I respect. But, that still doesn't excuse the tens of thousands who cheered as Derek Anderson's knee inflated to the size of a grapefruit. Those people are truly scum.