Tuesday, October 30, 2007


National Football League Sunday

A Great American Tradition

The Metro Link eases out of the St. Louis Airport to wind its way to the city core. Gradually, the train is filled on Sunday morning with football fans heading to the Edward Jones Dome to keep the faith with their beloved Rams. Keeping the faith has become a dicey option this year, as the Rams entered the game on Sunday with a very fat zero in their win column. Torry Holt
Joe Jurevicius

Visitors from the Cleveland area also boarded the train. They were dressed in orange and brown, as expected, and they had their game faces on as they seated themselves near us on the train.

Dr. Dave Kehl is a veterinarian who deals with large animals. “Pigs and cows,” he told me. But on Sundays in the fall, he trades in his white frock coat for the colours faithful to his beloved Browns. He lives in the area near Cleveland, and catches two or three games a year with a crew of his buddies, and his son. They were grateful just to be in St. Louis, as they had let his son drive part of the way to the Gateway to the West. They believe the son has NASCAR aspirations.

Kehl laid it all out for me before the game. “Kellen Winslow is currently at about 80% following micro surgery last spring. But even at 80%, he is better than most other tight ends in the NFL. We need to have Jerome Harrison run effectively, and I would like to see a good game from Steve Jackson.”

They were joined at the game by twenty or thirty thousand other escapees from the “Dog Pound” in the crowd in St. Louis. Browns’ fans can whoop it up with the best of them. They arrive with their dog faces, masks, and attitude.

The Ram fans, on the other hand, entered the stadium in a rather sombre mood. The team was winless after seven games this year. Expectations were lukewarm, as the crew from Cleveland has not exactly challenged the Patriots nor the Colts this year.
Following a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, as only a first class petty officer from the American Navy can give, they released an American eagle which circled the Dome with four or five swoops and finally landed on its handler’s arm at centre field. Bands, cheerleaders, plenty of hoopla to follow three or four hours of tailgating outside the Dome. “Are you ready for some football?” asked the announcer. One would expect so.

The Rams erupted for 14 points to start the game. There was a glimmer of hope in the eyes of the stalwart fans, although they fully realized that the team has faded in the second half in recent contests. The Browns fought back, drew even, and we had a contest on our hands.

In the dying seconds of the game, Rams’ quarterback Mark Bulger threw an errant pass into the arms of a defender. The Browns ran out the clock. Game over. Lights out. Yet another shadow on the beleaguered Rams.

After the game, there was a loud shouting from the Browns’ dressing room. The group of reporters in the area surmised that game balls were being presented to the most outstanding players.

The Browns have a group of “Dot Com” writers at the game who cover the team throughout the season. Following their analysis of the game, they also reward “game balls”. QB Derek Anderson, and receivers Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius each got game balls.

The team impressed more in the air than on the ground, and all recipients of the honours were receivers or the thrower. Derek Anderson continues to impress the doubters in Cleveland. He completed 18 passes out of 25 attempts. He moved well, and his passes were crisp-three for touchdowns. Braylon Edwards snared two balls for major scores, and won the battle for footballs all afternoon. Kellen Winslow also had a TD, and dominated when it was required.

Rams’ prime receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce both had fine numbers by the end of the contest, just not enough for the Browns.

We didn’t see Dr. Kehl nor his fellow Browns’ fans on our way back from the Dome. We lined up for the Metro Link. There were two lines. I asked the cop on the beat for the correct line to the airport. He said: “The line over there goes to East St. Louis. That is for the po’ folk. You want this line here. It’s for you. It doesn’t cross the river.” Lesson learned.

St. Louis is in itself a fabulous city. The Arch stretches across the waterfront-the gateway to the West. There is also a hockey team in St. Louis. We saw them beat the Washington Capitals the night before the football game. Quite handily. The same Capitals who stormed into Toronto and spanked the Leafs 7-1 on Monday night!

Above all, however, St. Louis is a baseball town. The Cardinals rule, for the most part, in Buschville. Which all adds up to a fine place to hang one’s hat-as a sports fan.

James Hurst-sportslices.blogspot.com
October 30, 2007

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