In 1985, the Browns took a flyer in the seventh-round on a gifted young receiver who had good size and speed with great hands and but came from a small school. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer was in his first real season at the helm of Cleveland after he had gone 4-4-0 in the interim head spot after Sam Rutigliano was fired after a 1-7-0 start the year before.
Schottenheimer believed in defense, plus he believed in running the ball. A lot. Really a lot.
Quarterback Bernie Kosar had come to Cleveland in unusual circumstances via the NFL Supplemental Draft and was just a rookie. The backfield featured Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack, both of which would surpass 1,000 yards rushing that year. The club’s tight end was three-time Pro Bowler Ozzie Newsome who was utilized more for his ace blocking skills but had receiving talents.
Gone for 1985 were receivers Duriel Harris and Glen Young and now this unit featured Brian Brennan, Clarence Weathers - and hopefully the young Langhorne.
Langhorne ended up playing special teams in his rookie year while he was learning the game at the professional level. As his receiving talents began to surface, the Browns played him more and more and instead of having 20 catches a year he would have 50 to 60 a season.
All the while, the Browns became absolutely loaded at the wide receiver position by adding Webster Slaughter while Brennan began to get more snaps, too. All of a sudden, with Kosar’s arm strength and accuracy, the Browns morphed from this run machine into a solid passing attack as soon as Schottenheimer hired Lindy Infante away from the United States Football League (USFL) as his offensive coordinator and subsequently discovered that Newsome was an excellent receiver as well.
In the second game of his second season, Langhorne was thrust into the starting role of slot receiver. Byner and Mack rushed for over 1,000 yards collectively instead of individually and became more involved in the passing game. The Browns’ offense became one of the league’s best passing attacks as they leaped from 25th (1985) to fifth under Infante’s direction.
Today, Langhorne has his feet in quite a few fires. He lives in the Cleveland area and is a sales and leasing executive with Ganley Chevrolet in Brook Park, Ohio. Their website is ganleychevrolet.com. Langhorne also does a local live television pre-game show called “Tailgate 19” for CBS affiliate WOIO hosted by Tony Zarrella with Josh Cribbs, Bob Golic and Langhorne as panelists. He is also part of the NFL’s “uniform police” on game days at FirstEnergy Stadium.
For his playing career while with Cleveland from 1985-1991, he had 261 receptions for 3,597 yards, a 13.3 average per catch with 15 touchdowns and zero fumbles. He then went to the Indianapolis Colts for two years and was very productive.
DBN caught up with Langhorne at his dealership to find out what happens to a small college player when he is introduced to Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon, the Fazio’s Grocery Store poster that depicted four defensive backs holding leashes to a Rottweiler, pit bull, German Shepard and a Doberman with the caption “The Last Dogs of Defense”, and if he still hates John Elway.
DBN: Your college career was at Division II Elizabeth City State in North Carolina. How do you assume NFL scouts were able to find you prior to the draft?
Langhorne: In 1981 and 1982 the USFL was searching for talented players to begin their new league and they showed up to see Bobby Futrell, a cornerback at our school. This led to the NFL scouts showing up including Dom Anile of the Browns. He would stay and run the JUGS machine with me and said he would be back to find me. I was drafted in the fourth-round of the USFL draft by the Oakland Invaders, but my agent said to stay with the established league. I was invited to the combine and was big enough and could run.
DBN: Is it true you had to wash your own uniforms while at Elizabeth City State?
Langhorne: Yeh, all my practice stuff I took home and washed but not the game uniforms. There were only 1,200 students at Elizabeth City and not many coaches or people helping the football team. When I got to the Browns I started to take my stuff home and someone told me there was a bag for that. I didn’t know you could leave your laundry to be washed.
DBN: Your name was not called until the seventh-round. Did this force you to have a chip on your shoulder once you got to the Browns for being taken so late?
Langhorne: I was just grateful. I didn’t go to college to play football. I was in ROTC for three years and thought I would go into that direction at some point.
DBN: What was your first training camp like?
Langhorne: Competitive. There were kids from Nebraska, UCLA and other Division I teams with players that were National Champions. I remember just getting better and being more competitive – run fast, don’t take off plays, break and make yards whether it was zone or man. You have to remember the Browns mostly ran the ball, so I just had to beat out a few guys and then excel on special teams.
DBN: How did you end up being part-owner of a restaurant back home in Virginia in Newport News called Wipeout Eddy’s Raw Bar & Grill? Are you a chef or just like to drink free beer?
Langhorne: Back then I loved to have a drink. But I can cook. A friend of mine had an idea and along with 5-6 other fellas we opened the restaurant. I was in it for about 9-10 years and we introduced a lot of cool bands. We also were did some events where all the proceeds went to Special Olympics.
DBN: You were a player that was fearless with crossing patterns over the middle and various slants playing the slot receiver. What type of toll does that punishment take on your body?
Langhorne: Literally in college I ran mostly slant routes and knew in games I would get hit. We had a linebacker who helped me prepare my mind and body for the hits. You just learn to take it and get up. It builds character and the other guys respect you.
DBN: You played sparingly in your rookie season with the Browns. Did you just think this is what all NFL rookies go through?
Langhorne: Some guys got off the bus and became starters. We ran the football mostly with Byner and Mack. I had to find a way to make the team and did so playing special teams. Those two were 1,000 yard rushers in one season. They are still my friends.
DBN: Your rookie camp in 1985 was the origin of the “Dawg Pound.” As an offensive player, what do you remember about all this going on in training camp?
Langhorne: Them starting to bark at practices didn’t quite kick off right away. At first it was just a couple of guys and then it spread. But when it really got going was there was this photo that was made into a poster of four of our defensive players on these steps with four mean dogs on leashes. That started promoting the defense as “dawgs” back in 1986. It was mainly a defensive thing. Our receivers were pretty cocky which meant you can save that for the game because you are not bringing that on me. But it became fun.
DBN: Every day in practice you played against defensive players such as Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. How much different are NFL corners and safeties than the ones you faced in college?
Langhorne: Completely different. I was fortunate to practice against those guys because back then, you had guys that you would go against in games like Lester Hayes, Kenny Easley, Mike Haynes, and Ronnie Lott. If you didn’t get that treatment in practices you weren’t going to know how to deal with those guys on the field. Their play was another level. Each was intelligent and they understood what they were doing in a game. I had two guys that were All-Pro corners that every day gave me a gift to my career.
DBN: In your second season, you were named the starter for Game 2. How did you find out that you were going to start, and who was the first person you told?
Langhorne: I had a good training camp in 1986 with Lindy Infante coming in and opening up an offense were the routes were better and we could now run or throw the ball. Webster Slaughter was the main receiver and the other starter was a guy that came from the Canadian League named Terry Greer. He played the first game and did not play well and froze up. Schottenheimer came to me and asked me if I was ready and told me I would start the next game. We played Houston and my touchdown catch ended up being the game-winning score. I called my mother first. She and my dad came to the game along with a lot of others.
DBN: What were some of the places you and other players would frequent after practices or games?
Langhorne: At first as players we would go out and drink on Fridays nights, but this would make us sluggish on Saturdays. So we changed it to being out on Thursday nights. We would go to places like TGIFridays in the Great Northern Mall, or By George’s, Coconuts, or the Beach Club. At times there would be 40 of us.
DBN: You were in a unit that had some very good receivers like Webster Slaughter, Brian Brennan, Clarence Weathers and later Eric Metcalf. Who was the boss of the receivers’ room and who was the clown?
Langhorne: Metcalf would be in with the running backs. In the receiver’s room there were too many alpha dogs for anyone to be the boss although Web was the number one guy. Glenn Young and Brian Brennan thought they were the fastest, but no one had more power than the others. We all wanted the ball and were not happy when we didn’t enough catches. Me and Brennan would swap out and bring in the offensive plays. There wasn’t helmet communication back then so we shuffled in and out. We also had Gerald “Ice cube” McNeil.
DBN: Hunting, fishing, playing video games or grilling out. Which two would you most likely be doing on a typical weekend?
Langhorne: Actually, golfing. My wife Andrea and I also like to travel and then spend time with my dog Enzo.
DBN: Your quarterback was Bernie Kosar. What type of player was he, and what was his competitive level?
Langhorne: He was knowledgeable about the game. He was worth trusting and came to play week-in and week-out. He would put me in positions to elevate my game but make you understand every play is not about you. Sometimes you take off downfield full speed, but that is take the safety out of that part of the field so that the play underneath could be successful. When you just drag downfield the safety would key on that and not pay much attention to you because he knew you weren’t going to be involved in the play. Kosar was very competitive and did not like to lose. I was fortunate to have a very good quarterback.
DBN: During the season, which is your best friend: another player, or anti-inflammatory drugs?
Langhorne: You develop friendships that last for the rest of your life. Herman Fontenot was my roommate and I was in his wedding. You develop buddies and we did stuff together. Today, these players are like rock stars and have entourages that alienate other players on the team and place dividers. We always did things together with teammates.
DBN: A few years ago someone put together a list of the 100 greatest Cleveland Browns players. The franchise was started in 1946, so that is a lot of players. You were slotted at number 88. Is that a minor victory for the small college players such as yourself?
Langhorne: Any time you are on a list with legends it is a compliment. I don’t get caught up with which part I was in the working engine. My respect doesn’t overshadow myself with stats.
DBN: 1986 and 1987, your Browns went to the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos, and lost both times because of odd circumstances. Do you hate John Elway even today?
Langhorne: No, I don’t hate Elway. I am one of the league uniform inspectors on Sundays and him and I have talked about those games that were in the old stadium. He has fond memories. I kind of get emotional every year I watch the AFC Championship Game. I love the playoffs and just remember what should have been. That hurt us and it hurt the City of Cleveland.
DBN: How good were those Browns teams?
Langhorne: We should have been in the Super Bowl both years. We were 12-4 in 1986. We just weren’t that team that day.
DBN: Where were you when you first heard the Browns were moving to Baltimore, and what was your opinion at the time?
Langhorne: I was at home in Virginia and got a call from Metcalf. He said the team was going to move and I told him the team can’t move. There was no way I was going to believe it.
DBN: You are now a leasing professional with Ganley Chevrolet Brook Park. When you are trying to make a sale, do you introduce yourself as Reggie Langhorne the salesman or Reggie Langhorne the former NFL player?
Langhorne: I just introduce myself as Reggie. I have had some people call me back and asked me why I didn’t tell them that I had played for the Browns. And sometimes I get a few who are a bit difficult, and then I will start talking about the Browns or introduce myself as Reggie Langhorne and that seems to loosen them up and break the ice.
DBN: What got you interested in this line of work?
Langhorne: I was sitting at home during a rough stretch in my life and saw a commercial for a car dealership and looked into it from there. I have been doing it for eight years.
DBN: You are married with two children. Did you see any athletic promise in either child as they were growing up?
Langhorne: My son is a body builder in the Navy. He is a cryptologist. My daughter did not play sports. They are 37 and 29 years old, but neither had any real interest in playing sports.
DBN: You are also a sideline uniform inspector for the past five years now during NFL games. How did you get this gig, what does it entail, and are you directly responsible for players getting uniform fines during actual games?
Langhorne: There used to be only one guy on each sideline and then Felix Wright called me one day and said they were going to add a second guy on each side and asked me if I wanted it. (Editor’s note: Felix Wright was a defensive back that played for the Browns from 1985-1990) It is a great opportunity because I get to be around football all the time and soak in that football smell. We make sure all the communications gear is either Bose or Microsoft, and with players we regulate helmet shields, bandanas, socks, jerseys tucked in, such as that. We have a list we go by each game; and instruct players on what is appropriate and what is not. I usually take the visitor’s side. I like to watch players such as Tom Brady and when Peyton Manning was playing since I was a receiver and see how they work during a game.
DBN: As a former player, what do you miss on game day, and what do you not miss on game day?
Langhorne: I miss riding to games with Web. We would switch off who drove. He would listen to rap and I would listen to slow music. So whatever car we were in that is what we listened to. There was a quiet intensity before games in the locker room. And then as it got closer to time to go out, you could hear Michael Dean Perry start to chirp in the background. And one of the best things in life is a pre-game meal. As far as what I don’t miss, I would say nothing. The game is what you worked for and put in all those hours getting prepared for it and then you get to reflect the good or the bad.
DBN: What are your fondest memories of being a Cleveland Brown?
Langhorne: Walking into that stadium on game day and hearing that crowd. The old stadium was made for baseball so the tunnel would be way back inside, but you could hear people. And then come out and the noise just exploded. We had a great run in the ‘80s. It has also been a pleasure to meet the old guys who played for the Browns and made this game great, to be able to shake their hand and meet their wives.