Browns Diary, Week 2: Home Again
Steelers 26, Browns 22
Let’s begin with a story that will seem, I suspect, entirely unrelated to that THING — whatever it is you want to call that Browns game on Monday night. One of my first assignments as a young writer was to cover the journey of a talented and upcoming swimmer named Melvin Stewart. Mel and I are roughly the same age — I’m not quite two years older than him — and we both had these outsized ambitions to live our best lives.
Mel went on to the highest heights of swimming — he set the world record in the 200-meter butterfly, and he won two gold medals at the 1992 Olympics, including a victory in the 200 fly. I mention the event twice in that sentence because many people inside swimming will tell you that the 200 butterfly is the most grueling event of them all. As Mel used to tell me: In the 200 fly, you don’t wonder IF the pain will come. You just wonder how soon it will hit.
Anyway, he swam for a while longer — he barely missed making the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 — and then he quit. Flat out quit. He’d had enough of the pain, enough of the drudgery, enough of the daily grind. He stopped swimming entirely for years.
And then, one day, after focusing on other things, he found himself back at the pool — maybe it was for his daughter. And when he went back into the water, he felt the strangest and yet most familiar feeling: He was home. He realized that he felt more like himself in the water than he did on dry land. “I guess,” he told me, “I really must be part fish.”
I tell you this because something similar happened to me with about seven minutes left in Monday night’s epically terrible and profoundly sad game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.