On Sunday, as Russell and I watched the Browns first soar then sickeningly crash and burn, I was reminded again of how many men can be, well, assholes.
Detroit is only a few hours away from Cleveland, and there were a lot of Detroit fans at the game. Many of them came by bus, decked out in their jerseys and headpieces and other Lions finery. In the municipal lot, where the buses park, there was some good-natured ribbing between the fans, and Browns and Detroit supporters posed for friendly pictures.
But then, a few beers later, the game started, and for some fans the good-natured veneer boiled away. Some Detroit fans were seated in the row behind us, and the men among them started to get into it with the Browns fans below. When the Lions grabbed an early lead, the Detroit fans started taunting about the game and the Indians, then when Cleveland grabbed the lead Browns fans responded with insults and celebratory dances calculated to provoke — which they did. By the time more beers had gone down and the game started to go south for the Browns in the second half, one-finger salutes were exchanged, fists were shaken, and the escalating situation seemed one swing away from a melee.
I looked at the men involved. Each of them was with his wife, and the women were cringing with embarrassment at their middle-aged husbands acting like stupid adolescents. No doubt they also worried that they might be trapped in a brawl and then have to worry about their spouse being arrested or injured. I felt sorry for the women — and also felt sorry for the rest of us who had to witness the absurd, testosterone-laden tableau. Fortunately for everyone in the vicinity, the situation was defused when the principal Browns fans involved meekly stumbled down the stadium stairs after a bonehead play by Brandon Weeden put the game out of reach.
I was glad no fighting occurred, but I found myself wondering: do those guys, Lions and Browns fans alike, have any perception of how imbecilic they look? When they wake up the next morning with a hangover, do they burn with shame at their behavior and apologize to their long-suffering wives? Or is self-awareness and contrition simply inconsistent with acting like a complete jerk?