Cleveland Steelers Fans Find Home in Middleburg Heights

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Expect this guy at Rivals in Middleburg Heights on Saturday.
It’s a dangerous time to be a Steelers fan in Cleveland. Local steel-heads are a bit worried about Browns hecklers coming out full-force for Saturday’s opening-round playoff game against the Jaguars, especially with the Browns home for the winter and their fans as sorrowful as ever. But John Simmons, co-owner of Rivals Sports Bar in Middleburg Heights (6710 Smith Road, 216-267-0005), believes it's possible for Browns and Steelers fans to coexist peacefully. “My partner is a Browns fan and I’m a Steelers fan,” Simmons explains. “That’s how we came up with the name Rivals.” Indeed, the bar thrives on team rivalry. Above the entrance to the bar is a huge commissioned painting of a Steelers hiking the ball in the face of a horde of Browns players. For the last Browns-Steelers game, 400 people showed up -- and owners claim (somewhat dubiously) that they didn’t even have to hire a bouncer. “There was no fighting, just a little bickering back and forth,” Simmons claims. He even – gasp -- believes that some Browns fans will be rooting for Pittsburgh on Saturday (oh the heresy!) Either way, on game day, all televisions will be turned to the Steelers game, and as always there will be $1.50 domestic draft beers and $2.00 plates of riblets. And the only bleeding, Simmons promises, will be on the field. -- Rebecca Meiser

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