How the Cleveland Gladiators Got Me Invigorated Back into Football
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly five months since I’ve seen live football of any kind, as the Seahawks defeated the Broncos in the Super Bowl last February. However, that’s currently the case and, honestly, I haven’t even noticed any form of “football withdrawal” that I have been accustomed to in past years.
I recently was afforded an opportunity (and I took advantage) to watch the Cleveland Gladiators play on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Having seen multiple AFL (Arena Football League) games prior, I fairly knew what to expect. I understand it’s very similar to the NFL but has some intricacies that make it unique (i.e. smaller field dimensions, fewer players on the field and roster, different out of bounds rules, etc.). What I wasn’t prepared for, what my missing of my favorite sport so much – and three things really did it for me.
I have been to an Indians game and a few Chicago Blackhawks contests since last February. Both were entertaining in their own right, and I definitely enjoyed myself while being there. However, returning to the Q and being with football fans is something special. Something about the touchdown celebrations and elation that follows is unparalleled in sports.
Additionally, the Gladiators (much like the Cleveland Browns) do a few unique things not seen in other cities. This includes the fans’ reaction to touchdowns (a silly movement of their arms). Also, the “Yes” cheer appears to be a Cleveland thing, as this was apparent in the bleachers of Progressive Field during successful moments. This chant (saying Yes,Yes,Yes…while pointing both index fingers to the sky during each “Yes”) relates to WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan, who is famous for doing this to rile up crowds.
A major reason why I fell in love with football is the many different things that can happen on the field (much more than on a baseball diamond, for example). On Friday night, I witnessed a long touchdown pass of nearly forty yards, a multitude of punishing hits by defenders, and excellent coaching strategies for each squad. All of which was lost since last football season ended, and I am definitely looking forward to that again in the coming months.
Outcome and Success
I got to admit, it is such a great feeling to see a winning organization once again in Cleveland. Add to the fact that with the fact that this is a football team, and it’s felt like generations ago since this region could expect regular victories in this sport. Will this ever occur for the Cleveland Browns? Obviously, no one knows, but this Gladiators’ game further reinforced the point that fans will forget past miseries and embrace a roster full of guys who get it done.
Conclusion: What occurred for me over the span of a little over two hours feels exclusive, but I’m sure that’s not the case. Cleveland, like most of America, loves its football and counts down the days until the Browns do battle at Heinz Field. However, having a team in the same city play (relatively) the same sport and do a tremendous job really gets me hopeful and excited for that to continue in the fall. I will clearly be pulling for the Gladiators this postseason and hope they can do the unthinkable when the Arena Bowl occurs. Professional football has been my favorite sport ever since I was a kid; I may have forgotten that recently, but Friday evening was a great reminder.