Preseason football is a methadone oasis for NFL fans in the heroin- and football-free summertime desert. Something like that, based on what I’ve read in the lead up to the year’s first full-contact action.
This is not a screed against the preseason. We’ve been waiting to see these guys in action for months or more. We want to see what Johnny and co. look like in actual football jerseys. We want to see if he’ll wear his Volt-colored cleats. We want to see if he’ll hide a vial of coke in his helmet. This is an exciting time! It’s where it all begins! It’s okay to get excited! Use exclamation points!
That said, the Great Lakes Classic — the since-2002 preseason “rivalry” between the Browns and Lions, with the winner taking home a bronze barge trophy — is among the very dumbest ideas in the combined history of sports and statues.
My main beef with the GLC is its premise: a preseason rivalry game. The idea just doesn’t click. Rivalries do not exist in the preseason. That’s why it’s the preseason. Rivalries are built in the playoffs, or at least in the freaking regular season. Do you think Browns newcomers like Justin Gilbert or Miles Austin, or even stalwarts like Joe Thomas, care about this thing? Like, at all? The whole idea is so silly that it even inspired a song:
The trophy itself isn’t awful if you’re a huge fan of barges. It’s a handsome bronze, and it reportedly has some heft to it. The Browns are at the stern, which lends itself to all sorts of cheap jokes, but that’s okay — the same issue would exist if the Lions were at the back. You know, like they are in the NFC North. Also, if you could have described from memory with any accuracy what the trophy looks like, then you are a true diehard who may also be living too hard.
But really, it’s a nice trophy. If you can look past the fact that it’s a preseason prize, and that the Browns and Lions have seriously, seriously sucked for the past fifteen years, it’s not a bad piece of hardware. If Cleveland State and Wayne State ever start up a football rivalry, maybe they can repurpose the thing. After all, it reportedly cost $10,000 to make.
Read that last sentence again.
If the reports are true, that means the following: Someone proposed a ten thousand dollar preseason trophy, to be awarded to one of the two worst teams in modern football. Someone else greenlit that idea. Someone else was commissioned to build the trophy itself. Again, to recap: There was an actual transaction in which someone was paid five figures to make a boat with the Browns’ and Lions’ helmets on it.
The high cost explains why we see so much of the trophy, right? Wait, what? You haven’t seen it in years, if at all? Why would that be?
Well, according to now-years old reports from Jeff Schudel and Tony Grossi, the trophy stopped changing hands in 2005 when former Browns president Carmen Policy, ahem, jumped ship. The trophy was last seen “collecting dust” at Browns headquarters, either on a side table or in a broom closet, depending on which report you believe.
Still, it’s football. I’ll be pulling for the Browns and hoping for the best out of the rookies. Maybe Johnny will look like a star, or maybe Hoyer will. Maybe Joel Bitonio will look like the mean SOB that we’ve wanted on the offensive line. Maybe Andrew Hawkins will be the first NFL player to hit a growth spurt while scoring a touchdown. It’s an exciting time.
But for me, there is only one Great Lakes Classic. If you make a habit of watching ESPN2 at 3 AM, you know what I mean. Long live Parker Bohn III.