Don’t look now, but the Browns could become affectionately labeled “LSU North.”
Expect the city to start hosting crawfish boils each weekend. Someone should make a list of area restaurants which serve the best gumbo, creole dishes and fried pickles. While shopping, make sure you pick up some Andouille or Conecuh sausage instead of hot dogs for your Bertman mustard.
The city should start preparations to host their very first Mardi Gras events next February. Various balls, a gumbo Ya-Ya cooking competition, and of course several parades complete with beads, stuffed animals, candy and moon pies as parade throws need to be scheduled.
Cleveland’s new cheer should become “Geaux Dawgs!” At FirstEnergy Stadium, the standard NFL “Y” goalposts need to be replaced with the retro “H” goalposts so that the players can run through them during pregame announcements just like they do in Death Valley, home of the LSU Tigers football squad. After all, you can’t represent LSU North without this lifestyle.
Browns get Greedy
What set all this off? Well, the Browns traded up in the third-round of this year’s NFL draft and took defensive back marvel Greedy Williams from LSU. You may ask: why has this one draft pick created such a fever over one player?
Adding Williams now makes a trio of players who carved their skills at LSU playing college football. Also on the roster is WR Jarvis Landry, and former Giant Odell Beckham, Jr., both LSU graduates.
In Louisiana, when you build two houses side-by-side it is just two homes, but when you build a third house at the same time, the builder must declare a sub-division and all the rules are changed.
Thus, the moniker LSU North. Winding paths, dog walking trails, a beer garden, endless cookouts with the right mustard, bomb shelters, sack races, newly installed Kitchens, Myles of entertainment, acceptance of Bitonio coins, Chubb Vila, a new Baker-y, coffee shops such as Cup of Joe Schobert, new McDonald’s menu item called the Mack Attack, and a Pharaoh to rule it all. Plus, the law offices of Vernon, Ogunjobi, Smith and Richardson, personal injury specialists.
The Browns were very surprised when Williams had slid out of his projection of the first-round, and into the second. GM John Dorsey then pulled the trigger and moved up three slots to snag the talented man-to-man cornerback at the number 46 overall position. Many draft experts had Williams pegged for the Top-15 while most had him going in the early 20s.
When questioned with local sports reporters about being selected by the Browns, Williams answered:
”I know one thing - that the Browns are going to the Super Bowl this year. That’s a fact.”
The Browns already have the ear of the NFL with all the talent that resides on their roster for 2019. On paper, they appear to be poised to not only take the AFC North Division title, but to make a deep run in the playoffs. Will they go to the Super Bowl as Williams so boldly predicted? At this point, Browns’ fans will hold their breath and focus on having a positive slate in the win-loss column for a change.
All Started with a Dub
The LSU connection with the Browns runs deep.
It all began in 1948 when the Browns were members of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), a rival NFL entity. Those teams were coached by the legendary Paul Brown who was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Cleveland dominated the AAFC all four years of its existence, and when the NFL offered to merge with the AAFC, they accepted the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Colts, and the Browns.
In Cleveland’s third season, Coach Brown traded for a halfback named William Jones, but everyone called him “Dub.” Jones was also a standout defensive back because in those days everyone played the entire game. The game of American Football is the grandson of football (soccer), and in soccer only three substitutions are allowed per game. Thus, until 1949, American Football copied this trend.
Jones was an outstanding player with LSU with All-American honors and named All-SEC his junior season before joining the Navy during World War II. Upon his return, he played two seasons with two different clubs in the AAFC before Coach Brown wanted his defensive skills and traded for him before the 1948 season. However, his offensive skills as a halfback became his most important feature in an offense that featured QB Otto Graham, FB Marion Motley, WRs Mac Speedie and Dante Lavelli. Jones invented a new position in football called the “flanker” to which he excelled. The Browns would go 14-0-0 in Jones’ first season. In all, Jones was part of two AAFC Championships and three NFL Titles while being named to two Pro Bowls.
Jones would later become the receivers coach for the Browns under Blanton Collier from 1963-1968. He got his sixth championship in 1964 when Cleveland bested the Colts 27-0 in the 1964 NFL Championship Game.
Other LSU Connections
The Browns have had numerous LSU athletes and coaches who have called Lake Eerie home.
Most notable is current Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Before he built Alabama into an annual college football national powerhouse, he spent his most productive time coaching under Bill Belichick as the Browns’ defensive coordinator from 1991-1994. Saban eventually accepted the head coaching position at LSU and won a National Championship in 2003. He has been named national Coach-of-the-Year twice and SEC Coach-of-the-Year four different years.
Tight end Billy Truax won a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys after the 1971 season. He was a standout while at LSU and named second team All-SEC. The Browns selected him in the second round of the 1964 NFL draft but suffered a torn hamstring on the first day of training camp and was later traded to the Los Angeles Rams who later traded him to the Cowboys.
WR Dwayne Bowe was a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007 and was subsequently named to the NFL All-Rookie Team. He was a standout receiver on Saban’s 2003 LSU National Championship team. In 2010, he gained 1,162 yards with 15 TDs and was named to the Pro Bowl. After signing a huge deal in 2013, the following season he was suspended one game and then was arrested for possession of a controlled substance. After the season, the Chiefs cut him. The Browns signed him to a two-year deal worth $13 million but was in the doghouse with head coach Mike Pettine and listed as the club’s fourth receiver for most of the year. In March 2016, he was waived and never played again.
As a standout defensive back out of LSU, the Browns took Kenny Konz with the 14th pick in the 1951 NFL draft and played under Coach Brown. He had an astounding 17 INTs his first three seasons with three TDs. Cleveland took the NFL titles in 1954 and 1955 where Konz was named to the Pro Bowl. He finished his career with the Browns in 1959 to which he had accumulated 30 INTs, six fumble recoveries and was NFL First Team All-Pro twice.
Barkevious Mingo was a two-time All-SEC linebacker with LSU. The Browns took him with the sixth pick in the first-round of the 2013 NFL draft. Still on the board was RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Travis Kelce, CB Tyrann Mathieu and WR DeAndre Hopkins. In three seasons with Cleveland he suffered a bruised lung, a shoulder injury, and surgery on a torn meniscus while playing for two head coaches who were both fired. In 2016, he was traded to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round pick where he would be listed fourth on the depth chart of the Super Bowl LI champions. His final two seasons were with the Colts and Seattle Seahawks as a backup.
Other LSU players who have donned a Browns jersey include OT Chris Faulk (2013-2014), LB John Garlington (1968-1977), DB Clinton Burrell (1979-1984), DE John Demarie (1967-1975), DT Steve Cassidy (1976), DE Chase Pittman (2008), and QB Pat Screen (1965).
In addition, head coach Freddie Kitchens and wide receivers coach Adam Henry have LSU correlations.
Henry was the WR coach for LSU from 2012-2014 with two of his pupils being both Landry and OBJ under head coach Les Miles. Kitchens’ second coaching gig was as a grad assistant with LSU in 2000 under Saban.