34 Blue, Right 76 – HIKE!

Yeah, it’s football season.

If I had to pick a single sport, football would be it – though it would be a messy, bloody fight with the tail-end of baseball. I used to be seriously, die-hard all about a single team…till the Browns moved out of Cleveland my freshman year of college. Nowadays, I tend to root more for a good game than a single team.

That said, there are teams I root for more than others. Here’s the glossary, along with my connection:

College

Ohio St., Ohio U. – Me: I spent part of my childhood in Ohio. Football in all its incarnations is practically a religion in Ohio, and there’s likely no bigger denomination in the state than The Ohio State University. Yeah, no kidding – that’s the name of the school. I, however, chose not to attend Ohio State, going instead to Ohio University – which has a woeful football tradition, and is best known recently in football for hiring Nebraska’s Frank Solich.

Cal, Illinois – Dad: My step-dad attended both of these schools. He’s always been more the academic sort (he got his Ph.D. at Cal, after all); that’s never stopped him from pulling for either of these teams on Saturdays.

UCLA – Brother: Funny, that. I don’t know what his connection to UCLA is, other than growing up and spending significant amounts of time in SoCal; what I know is that his love for the Bruins of Westwood runs deep and true.

Miami (Fl.) – Sister: She lived in Miami for years, went to school there. Her devotion to the U equals that of my Catholic school teachers for Notre Dame.

NFL

I’m franchise-less. Remember, my allegiance to specific teams, particularly in the NFL, withered after Art Modell dumped Cleveland for Baltimore. More on this in a sec. That said…

New York Jets, Chicago Bears – Mom, Dad: My mom is from New York City. She grew up rooting for the Yankees (mostly; she’ll grudgingly root for the Mets on occasion, but it’s hard to convince her that they aren’t a misplaced Triple A team). When it comes to football, though, her heart belongs to the New York Jets.

The Bears? My step-dad’s family is entirely from Chicago. Their appreciation for the Bears and Bulls resembles nothing so much as those of English fans of Plymouth Argyle – hardy and stout. Those ties, however, break down into open strife when it comes to the White Sox and Cubs, and it is determined by where in the city you live; woe betide that kinsman or kinswoman who roots for the wrong team.

As for the former Browns: look, Baltimore, I’m going to give it to you straight. You know why the Orioles have been sucking wind since 1997. You know why Jeffrey Maier smote the Birds like an avenging angel in that ALCS. You know.

For as long as the former Browns reside in Charm City, your Orioles will know no success. Hope you really enjoyed that Super Bowl parade, folks. Of course, we’d be more than happy to swap teams with you.

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