BEREA, Ohio — The Pittsburgh Steelers have the Terrible Towel. This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns will have the white flags.
The Browns announced on Wednesday on the team’s offficial Facebook page that fans who attend the game against the Steelers will receive an inflatable flag, which just happens to be white. (It does have the team name and orange helmet on it.)
The inflatable flags will be given away by Ticketmaster.
The Browns, who are 2-8 and headed for their fifth straight losing season, know how this looks, or perhaps sounds, but the promotion is Ticketmaster’s, not theirs — though it is at their stadium.
“Is this white flag thing true?” Browns safety T.J. Ward posted on Twitter. “If so….the white flag giveaway needs to be white flagged!”
Perhaps this is what happens when a team loses 16 of 17 to its “rival,” including the past four in a row. It has reached the point that the Steelers admitted that they have stopped looking on the Browns as a rival; former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said that several years ago.
Included in the many Cleveland losses was an embarrassing shutout on Christmas Eve, and last season, when the Browns put Colt McCoy back in the game after James Harrison tried to drive his helmet through McCoy’s jaw.
Now comes the white flag.
Word spread quickly on Twitter, where fans were either laughing or aghast at the notion of the flag being white.
“Unreal. White flags?” wrote one fan. And he was among the kinder folks.
“Do they come with paper bags, too?” wrote another.
The Free Dictionary online defines the white flag as a “white cloth or flag signaling truce or surrender.”
And it goes back a ways. Slate reported that historians from ancient China and Rome wrote of soldiers using white flags to surrender. The tradition is believed to have started with the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 A.D.), though Tacitus mentions the white flag in his Histories.
The Geneva Convention recognizes the white flag, and the Italians have guidelines that mention the white flag as an indication of surrender talks.
Most recently, Iraqi soldiers waved white handkerchiefs when surrendering to US Forces in the first Iraq war.
The Browns aren’t surrendering, but one of their sponsors wants their fans to wave the white flag.