The road to the Super 8 Bowl

A long time ago (well, almost 45 years) in a galaxy (technically, a ’67 Ford Galaxie) far, far away (well, if you were walking, it was very far), there came a time of revolution (I tried to drive without a permit)…

For those of you otherwise unaware, the above (without my parenthetical comments, of course) is the screen introduction to the classic movie, "Star Wars." I use it as a clever segue to introduce you to my fascinating experience, not only as fan,  but a budding film artist, who attended the 1968 NFL title game between the Browns and the Baltimore Colts at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Of course, many of you are no doubt also unaware that back in the 1960s, the Cleveland Browns were not only good, they were a perennial playoff team. To put it in perspective, in those days we beat the Steelers twice a year – every year. In fact, playoff appearances for the Browns were so common, I was able to go to the game because a friend of my neighbor had to opt out for some reason or another, and the subsequent fourteen guys the neighbor then asked also weren’t interested, so I was lucky number (last choice) fifteen. Much like death and taxes, Browns and playoffs were taken for granted.

Anyway, it was a few days after Christmas, and I’d received a brand spankin’ new Bell & Howell Super 8 movie camera as my present. I’d had a fascination with movies for some time, and collected many of the silent classics. Yeah, it may sound a little weird, but what do you want from a fifteen-year-old? I scraped up some cash, bought some film, and figured I’d be taking NFL Films to school with my advanced film knowledge (which consisted of knowing how to operate the camera’s zoom lens).

Game day arrived, and it was cold. Municipal Stadium? I think it was designed specifically so the icy wind would swirl around the entire stadium a dozen times before finding its way out. Our seats? Ever hear of the term, "nose bleed section"? It originated from Municipal Stadium. I swear to you, after walking halfway up the stairway that went on forever to like, section 8000, the ushers handed out oxygen masks, similar to the drop-down ones you have on planes.

I also heard that the military often went up to the top of the stadium and practiced their sky-diving skills. Not only that, but I think Alfred Hitchcock came up with the idea for the classic film, "Vertigo," after taking in a Browns game from up there. Honestly.

And the game? Keeping in mind the Browns smoked Don Shula and the Colts, 27-0, four years earlier for the NFL championship, I expected more of the same. And I got it, more or less. To the naked eye, from where we sat, the players on the field looked like ants. With my trusty zoom lens, they looked like slightly bigger ants.

At halftime, the Colts led, 17-0. I decided not to waste anymore film after that, particularly since everyone was leaving and walking in front of my camera. No respect for an artist at work. It ended up 34-0, essentially ending my taste for a film career.

When he found out, I’m certain George Lucas breathed a little easier.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

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Volume 5, Issue 2, Posted 11:54 AM, 01.22.2013