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Wyche prepares for return to Cleveland

Sam Wyche doesn't live in Cleveland. He lives in Cincinnati. And he'll find out tonight whether the people of Cleveland still remember the day last December when he used their city as a synonym for rowdiness. "It's not just an in-state rivalry between two football teams. I think this one transcends that," Wyche said last week as he prepared his Bengals for the Browns. "It's between two cities that compete just about every way you can compete within the state."

He insists he holds Cleveland fans in high regard, despite the disparaging way he spoke of them during the Bengals' game against Seattle last Dec. 10. When Cincinnati fans began throwing snowballs at Seattle's players, Wyche grabbed a public address microphone and scolded them, "You don't live in Cleveland _ you live in Cincinnati!"

Wyche, whose Bengals had won at Cleveland the week before the Seattle game, expects civilized treatment from Browns fans.

"Last year was the first time in six years that I wasn't hit with dog biscuits, chicken bones and double-A batteries there," he said.

Wyche's Bengals (4-2) are in first place in the AFC Central and could deliver a severe blow to any hopes the Browns (2-4) have of going to the playoffs with a victory tonight.