It’s sort of disgusting, really. Like those ESPN ads showing a Michigan and an Ohio State fan cuddling on the couch, it’s just plain unnatural. So when the Steelers open against the Browns on September 9, couples with rival allegiances should be prepared to brave the fight.
Last year, Maria, a 26-year-old ex-pat from Pittsburgh, and her then-boyfriend Jim, a hardcore Browns fan, made a deal. They’d watch the Steelers-Browns game at the same bar with her friends … but he’d show up head-to-toe in Browns gear and wouldn’t pretend to be happy if her team won.
Everything seemed fine -- kind of -- until she checked her MySpace page later. He’d used Photoshop to paste a Browns jersey on an old picture. This was unacceptable. The two broke up soon after. On subsequent dates, Maria was sure to check future boyfriends one their loyalty to the Browns.
Gina and Brad are two former Case students who also possess opposite loyalties. When the Steelers made the playoffs two years ago, Brad chivalrously agreed to watch the games with Gina at Panini’s on Coventry. He was cool when the bar brought in Yuengling, and even tolerated the excessive replaying of the song “The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl … here we go…”
But when owners of the bar took down a Browns sign over the door and replaced it with ha large Steelers sign, it was just too much. He had to leave. Their relationship ended soon after.
There is proof, however, that mixed couples can survive.
Helen and Don Geiselman have been married 36 years. When the Strongsville couple first married, Helen forbade any Browns paraphernalia from the house. “To this day, there’s no orange and brown stuff in the house,” she says. “I won’t even allow orange on my little grandson. Thank God my husband’s first passion is golf.”
Helen will still watch Browns games with her husband, but “only to see them lose.” It’s hard to watch the games with her in-laws, who are devoted Browns fans. Things get tense, but “we don’t, like, fist fight.” Asked if she had any advice for other mixed couples, she pauses. “I don’t know if they should marry.” – Rebecca Meiser