Forgotten Player of the Moment – BRIAN SIPE
(by ED AGNER)
Here’s a little secret I’ll clue you in on – the Raiders suck. Yes. Oh, yes. They do. My more-youthful days of wallowing in pain and misery are long-long-long-long-long gone, so delving into the particulars of the Raiders current suckitude doesn’t interest me at all. I am an old man now and seeing Kerry Collins as Raiders QB makes me want to seek out only the beauty that I once knew in football. I have my memories. I’d rather just close my eyes and dream a little dream about the better days when the Raiders didn’t suck and I had some semblance of youthful promise. Where have all the good times gone?
The first Super Bowl I can remember is one of the Cowboy-Steeler ones of the late-70s. (Boy, there’s a lot of hate to be had there.) These were in the days when the Super Bowl wasn’t the mega-huge-awesome-mega deal they are now. The Super Bowls came and went and I didn’t care. My team was the Raiders and the late-70’s were filled with disappointment, underachievement and injuries after the ‘76 Super Bowl win – kinda like the rogue version of the late-90’s St. Louis Rams now that I think of it.
And just as the decade changed a funny thing happened, the Raiders somehow made the right decisions in jettisoning off some old guys and they amazingly became competitive again. Who knew the Raiders could make proper personnel moves? Anyhoo, so as a little Raider fan I was all geeked about the Wild Card Raiders – especially after they knocked off the Earl Friggin’ Campbell’s Oilers in the Astrodome and were bound to face the Kardiac Kid Browns in the AFC Divisional Playoff game.
(Truth be told – do to time, lack of memory and Browns fans whining about the course of these events, I thought this Raiders-Browns tilt was the AFC title game. But no. Not at all. So thanks Browns fans! One more thing to add to my “reasons Browns fans can’t suffer enough” list. Morons.)
And leading the Browns into this game was none other than Brian Sipe. (Oh, how I’ve
gotten mileage out of this man.) He was a smallish, rag-armed QB who was a 13th round pick out of San Diego State in 1972 after leading the NCAA in passing in 1971. After a few years of getting jerked around by the Browns, he became their starter in 1978 and started putting up decent numbers – even though he didn’t mind throwing the ol’ INT (OMEN!!!).
Then came 1980 when Sipe must have sold his soul to the devil or something as he put up a Fouts-ian year in leading the Browns to the AFC Central Division title. This Browns team was nicknamed the Kardiac Kids (What? No z on the end of Kids to make them even more street?) due to the fact that they won a lot of close games by coming from behind.
Back to the 1980 AFC Divisional Playoff game. It’s 14-12 Raiders late in the 4th quarter. The Browns are marching down the field. I am swearing with all the curse words an 8 year old knows. Browns have the ball on the Raiders 19 with less than a minute left. Question: do you kick the field goal and make plans for the AFC Title game in sunny San Diego? If you answer yes, you are in no way fit to become a Cleveland Brown. That’s right. The Browns gamble and call the infamous Red Right 88. Sipe tries to hit Ozzie Newsome in the corner of the end zone only to be thwarted by sweet-sweet Mike Davis. Ahhh. Misty water-colored memories…
Sipe went on to have another nice, yet pick-riffic, year in 1981 but the Browns couldn’t rebound, finishing 5-11. Sipe helped lead the Browns to a Wild Card in ’82 – where they again lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. (Aww.) And in 1983 Sipe again played out of his head which lead him to The Donald.
See, kids, back in myyyyyyy day, there was this nifty little start-up league called the USFL. (Mmm, USFL.) Anyway, it mostly involved a lot of owners who were shady businessmen with questionable finances. A whole lot of players jumped ship from the NFL and college kids skipped the big league completely for the sake of some fat contracts with the start-up. It was a nice dream. Trump was one of the few owners with real cash and he convinced Herschel Walker to come to the new league – a huge coup for the USFL. At the same time, he convinced Sipe to come over and stink for the New Jersey Generals too. Oh yeah, Sipe stunk. Of course, he was 35 then, so that shouldn’t have come as a big surprise but, yeah, Sipe stunk.
And come 1985 Trump convinced Doug Flutie to become the General’s QB and Sipe was…well, yeah, fired. After spending 1985 as a back up with the Jacksonville Bulls, Sipe was unable to get another gig and retired as the Browns all-time passing leader – a distinction he still holds, much to the amazement of Tim Couch. Of course, since I’m doing this, after retirement Sipe found God, coached high school football and let his son become a surfer dude.
Meh. At least I still have Red Right 88.