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Nebraska Browns Beat Cleveland Browns Two Weeks In A Row

On accepting life's coincidences.

by James Leroy Wilson
November 14, 2001

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Nebraska Browns Beat Cleveland Browns Two Weeks In A Row_James Leroy Wilson-On accepting life's coincidences. Sudden-death overtime games in the National Football League are not the norm, but hardly rare. Certainly rare, however, is to play two such contests in consecutive weeks. Rarer still for the same team to come back from deficits and force the overtime both times - and to win both games.

Even more rare is to win both games by interceptions returned for touchdowns. Rarest of all is for both to be scored by the same player - Bears safety
Mike Brown, in the games of October 28 and November 4. The NFL had never seen that before and likely won't again.

By now this is old news - the intervening Packers victory over the Bears spoiling Chicago's party. I am struck by another equally rare, and this time also ironic event, for which the second Bears miracle is the starting point.

If playing and winning overtime games in consecutive weeks is unusual, equally so is losing both. Add to that the coincidence of the two opposing players providing the winning points hailing from the same university. Also, that they share the same last name.

Again, add to this another coincidence of supreme irony. Not the irony of cynicism or satire but simply the irony of unexpected plays on words: these players' last name is the same as the losing team's nickname. In consecutive weeks, the Cleveland Browns lost in overtime to the Bears' Mike Brown's touchdown and the Steelers' kicker Kris Brown's field goal. Both Mike and Kris - no relation - hail from the University of Nebraska. The "Nebraska" Browns beat the Cleveland Browns two weeks in a row!

This goes to show that even in sports, the strange and the coincidental are ever-present. In 1998, Sammy Sosa, by then a ten-year veteran major league
baseball player, hit his very first Grand Slam. The next day, he hit his second. Before 2001, in all of the games played by the New York Yankees club in 37 World Series, the club had but once come back from a two-run deficit in the ninth inning. This year, they did it twice, again on consecutive nights.

These coincidences are comforting in days like these. As of this writing, and confident no answers will be found by the day of publication, America is reeling from a strange American Airlines airbus accident in Queens' Rockaway neighborhood of New York City. Planes, even with mechanical failure, do not normally lose engines and break apart in mid-air. Crashes themselves are a rarity, but when they occur, are right by the runway, in the countryside, or in a body of water. This is the first disaster I recall in which a plane accidentally crashed into an urban neighborhood - in the very same city in which the first deliberate crashes into urban buildings
occurred just two months before. And three weeks after a firefighter and self-proclaimed resident of Rockaway appeared on a nationally-televised benefit concert and threatened Osama bin Laden.

But after what we've just seen in sports, with the Yankees' miracles and the two Browns defeating the Browns, we can accept the conclusion that all of this was a coincidence - if that is what we find out. No longer should we suspect cover-ups or terrorist conspiracies beyond reasonable doubt. Truth is stranger than fiction, even in sports. And sports is a controlled environment. In real life, almost anything can happen to almost anyone, but in a game, there's only so much that can happen because the players are bound by the rules and the field of play. After witnessing the too-strange-to-be-believed in sports, we must cut real life some slack.

This airline tragedy may have just been a random accident. I would still find that hard to believe, but must remember that I have seen and heard equally strange things in the sports world. We might not like it, but coincidences happen. We must learn to accept the truth no matter how hard it is to believe.

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