I'm sure it is no secret by now that I am a HUGE Browns fan. I LOVE the Cleveland Browns. Have since I was a kid. Even after the [F]Art Modell debacle, I still loved them. (The team, not necessarily the management...Al Lerner was classy. Randy...well...he's got a bit of work to do.) Nevertheless, I think that Cleveland Rocks, the Browns are great (even when they lose) and I will always be a fan, even if I do not live here anymore. (I was when I lived in the UK and Puerto Rico, so why not?!) As I like to say, quite often recently, I am no fair weather fan. My good friend the Colts Fan commented that it is hard to be a fair weather fan in Cleveland when fair weather is few and far between, but, that is a different story. I am no meteorologist. :)
Nevertheless, one of the biggest reasons why I love the Browns is because they are a group of classy guys. Recently, Josh Cribbs walked on the field with his late coach's son, Michael Drake, whose father (Cribbs' former coach Mike Drake) died in 2005 of lymphoma. It was senior night, Michael assumed he would be accompanied on the field by his sister and mother, instead, he was surprised to find Josh Cribbs there to walk with him and give him some last minute advice. Not only was Cribbs overly excited at the opportunity to give something back to the family that took him in when he was at Kent State and the coach who gave him the fundamentals he still plays with today, he wanted to be sure he downplayed his presence there. He was there for the family, not for himself. Not many celebrities are like that. What humility! I think we can all learn a lesson from that: it is not about how many people know the good that you do, it is about the fact that you do it for the sake of doing good.
Aside from Cribbs, many of the other players on the team do incredible things in the local community. They take part in United Way campaigns, they visit children at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, etc., they take part in their own foundations to raise money for both our communities and the greater community of our nation, they bring to light important issues that we face in society, and they are determined to make a difference in Cleveland (and its surrounding cities) while they are here. Abe Elam, Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs, Brett Ratliff, to name a few, have foundations to assist local families and children afford things like school supplies, food, housing, etc., in order to allow them to survive.
The Browns hold a camp for kids each summer where the players get together with kids in the local community and teach them about football and some tough lessons in life. They also did a family day scrimmage this year that allowed some families to see the Browns play (and get autographs - stayed for over an hour past the game!) for free admission.
So, while these guys may not be bringing home the Superbowl rings, I will always be a fan because of their integrity, honesty and dedication to the community and making a difference.
So, to my Browns tonight: go out there and play hard against our former team (the Ravens - boo!), but even more, keep making a difference in my community and the lives of those around you. That example is one that more need to present and I am so very proud that I am a Browns fan because of you. Thank you for making me proud to say that Cleveland Rocks and I love the Browns!