Cleveland Browns to distribute white flags of surrender against Pittsburgh Steelers (update)

Ticketmaster is generously providing Browns fans attending the Steelers game Sunday with an inflatable flag to combat the terror of the Terrible Towel. Problem is, a white flag isn’t exactly evocative of victory.

This is just another misguided stab at fending off the swirling hand rags of the steel city. 2006 brought Cleveland the “Dirty Brown Towel”  (which doesn’t at all suggest that the franchise is excrement.) Another site looks to monetize self-loathing with the “We are Terrible” towel, a gag gift website making the same exact joke as the Browns marketing team.

Incompetence, on and off the field

But we could really go back to the future by considering the Growl Towels of 1986. Also white, these were manufactured at a time before surrender was the default. Before the Pilot Flying J era, it was Bernie Kosar piloting the Browns to a 12-4 season that culminated in Elway’s immortal Drive. If the Browns wanted to pay homage to this success, they would have been better served trawling Ebay than issuing new flags ceding failure.

It’s hard to believe that a more apropos, gift-wrapped metaphor exists. It’s David vs. Goliath, only David forgot to bring rocks and deferentially dropped his slingshot.

Is the Browns’ promotion a white flag against their rival bully the historical floor of the franchise? Of the city? Playing the jilted lover, the Browns are no stranger to seeing former beaus peak after changing scenery: LeBron, Modell, Bill Belichick. The only thing that’s peaked in Cleveland is Shawn Kemp’s weight.

Perhaps the motif of white would be best applied to a beekeeper’s protective dress, because these swole bumblebees  have done lots of stinging since Lerner reanimated the Browns into a slightly less lifeless corpse than the one Art Modell left after he gutted the franchise and toted the heart to Baltimore. The Steelers are 23-4 against the Browns since the 1999 expansion, a success spell terminating any notion of equality between the teams.

“They knew we were going to run the ball and they couldn’t stop us,” said former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter after a 2006 thrashing. “They want to be on our level and call it a rivalry, but I don’t see it.”

The Steelers aren’t even coming into the game at full strength. Gone is the ticking battery of the offense, quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger, as well as his bad backup Byron Leftwich. Helming the Steelers is third-stringer Charlie Batch, a QB who couldn’t get off the bench when Leftwich was floundering with broken ribs. Gone are the luscious locks of shampoo aficionado Troy Polamalu, and All Pro punt returner and starting wide receiver Antonio Brown will also be absent.

Most of the headlines coming out of this game the past few years have revolved around cranium-rattler and former Golden Flash James Harrison rendering Mohamed Massaquoi limp and Colt McCoy averse to light. Maybe the white flag debacle is a media ploy designed to trick the Steelers into underestimating Cleveland. Based on Porter’s sentiment, they seem to already estimate the Browns pretty low.

Browns strong safety and political corruption homagist T.J. Ward spoke out against the humiliating giveaway on his Twitter account, @bossward43.

“Is this white flag thing true?! If so….the white flag give away needs to be white flagged!”

Preemptive surrender or not, expect the Steel Curtain to deliver a (to channel Kellen Winslow) cold war on Sunday.

NOV 24 EDIT: The white flag promotion has been canceled as of Saturday. “After further and careful consideration, we felt it was in the best interests of everyone involved that we not have a giveaway item at tomorrow’s game,” said team spokesman Neal Gulkis in a statement.  “It is something that was intended to be fun for our fans and that they could rally around, and we regret that some didn’t perceive it that way.”

No word on the Pittsburgh Steelers revoking  Terrible Towels for their self-deprecating nickname.


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