Sipe, the 1980 NFL Most Valuable Player, led the scrappy Browns to many last-second wins that helped earn the moniker, “Kardiac Kids” during the 1980-81 season.
That year, Sipe passed for a career-best 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns.
With memorable names such as Sipe, Mike Pruitt, Ozzie Newsome, Dave Logan and Don Cockroft, the Kardiac Kids—and their trend-setting orange pants—left their mark in Browns lore for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Kardiac Kids’ mojo ran out against the Oakland Raiders when Sipe threw the ill-fated interception to Mike Davis on a play intended for Logan forever known as “Red Right 88” in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, dashed Cleveland’s playoff hopes, but not the legacy of thrilling, last-second outcomes that would come to define the Browns that year, and for many years to come.
This writer will confess that at the age of four in 1980, I was too young to recall Sipe’s heroics, but being a life-long Browns fan, his name and legacy have changed the way and reason why I love my Brownies so much.
This team never dies.
Now 38, it feels like the Kardiac Kids of my childhood past have been re-born for a new generation of Browns fans in the form of Hoyer, Jordan Cameron, Travis Benjamin, Ben Tate, Miles Austin, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell, Jim Dray and Andrew Hawkins.
Like Sipe, Hoyer is not the most physically gifted quarterback, as Sipe was 6’1 and 195 pounds and Hoyer is slightly bigger at 6’2 and 215 pounds.
The San Diego-born Sipe channeled West Coast cool in leading the Browns to a 11-5 record and a 1980 AFC Central title, the Cleveland-born Hoyer has channeled his inner Sipe in displaying Rust Belt toughness and grit in going 5-2 in seven starts, three game-winning drives—two this season vs. the Saints and aforementioned Titans—in helping a once-boring Browns offense average 26.1 points a game.
When is the last time, that a Browns starting quarterback has had those kind of numbers? When was the last time a Browns quarterback has garnered such national praise?
While many in the media wanted Manziel to start, this team—and city—belongs to the Lakewood-born, former St Ignatius and Michigan State standout. Period.
Derek Anderson had the big arm and interceptions, Brady Quinn had the Abercrombie looks and inaccuracy and Brandon Weeden is in a special category all his own, Hoyer provides the Browns something they haven’t had in a long time.
A real leader in the huddle and a calm and cool field general who is clutch when it matters most in crunch time.
He may lack the flashiness of Johnny Manziel, the big name and rings of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and long-time Browns nemesis Ben Roethlisberger, but after leading Cleveland to a once-in-a-generation win in Tennessee, Hoyer is on the cusp being a top-flight quarterback.
Is he the future and not Manziel, can he win NFL MVP, is he the real deal?
Based on his current numbers of six touchdowns, one interception, 1,007 yards passing and 97.6 QB rating, Hoyer deserves some consideration as his presence alone seems to energize Cleveland—on and off the field.
Depending on how well Hoyer plays the rest of the year, these questions are just mere speculation, but if he leads Cleveland to that elusive win over the much-hated Steelers, these questions will, at the very least, deserved to be answered. And if he continues his knack for last-minute, heart-inducing dramatics, Hoyer will indeed be seen by many Cleveland fans as the second coming of an old hero in Sipe.
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