The Browns had two punters in camp, one a seasoned veteran with a Pro Bowl nod last year whereas Jamie Gillan was a rookie free agent from a small college.
Cutdown day was this past Saturday, and the competition for a lot of positions had been fierce including the punter job. Gillan was having beers with his dad at the Flying Monkey Pub at the corner of Professor and Jefferson Avenues in Tremont, just minutes from Cleveland’s premier restaurants plus Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.
The two men were watching some college football games on the many big screens scattered around the room, when Gillan’s phone rang according to a story on Yahoo Sports. The call was from Browns GM John Dorsey.
“As soon as I got off the phone, everybody was kind of looking at me like, ‘What was that?’” And I just kind of said, ‘It looks like I’m playing Tennessee next week,’ and everybody just started going crazy, so it was really cool. It was good fun with them.”
After a long journey and a hard training camp, the voice on the phone informed him he had made the Browns final 53-man roster. The “Scottish Hammer” has a new home called Cleveland, Ohio.
His first instinct was to buy everyone a round of drinks to celebrate, however, the patrons in attendance bought him and his dad liquid refreshments instead as a tribute.
What were the odds of Gillan beating out 10-year veteran Britton Colquitt? Not very good in the beginning. But he showed that he can really boom the ball and has good consistency of dropping punts inside the 20-yard line. Another advantage Gillan will give the Browns is his ability with deep kickoffs which in essence will save the leg of newly-minted field goal kicker Austin Seibert. Was Gillan really better than Colquitt or did he just have a better camp and preseason?
‘’(Colquitt’s) been in the NFL for 10 years, so I actually had no idea, to be honest I just know I just can control what I can control myself. As long as I felt like I’m getting better, I’m doing fine. I can’t be worried about what Colquitt’s doing. He’s doing his thing and I’m doing my thing. We got along really well and it was actually really fun with him. I had a really good four months, and he helped me out a lot and we worked well together and we competed hard against each other. So on Saturday when I was at the bar, I had no idea what was going to happen.’’
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens has been impressed with the rookie.
‘’We thought he performed well. He kicked the ball well, and we have total confidence that he is going to do the job. The upside is tremendous on it. I think you saw that during the course of the preseason. He is working on consistency as an everyday thing. We think he can get there, and that is why he is here.’’
Now that the preseason is over, the team‘s next preparation will be geared towards the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, a home game. Gillan appears ready.
‘’I’m sure it’s going to be bumpin’. I’ve never experienced an in-season game before. It was fun in preseason. It’s supposed to be sold out, right? It should be pretty fun.’’
And now that he is the newest member of the Cleveland Browns, his second home appears to already be settled at a place called the Flying Monkey.
“They don’t have to convince me. I like that place a lot. It was great, really great people there. Really nice people, down to earth and it was really fun there. It’s going to be one of those little places in my heart that you go every so often because, yeah, I got the phone call there, so it was cool.’’
One thing is for certain, the Hammer brings back a bit of old school football to the field. He is a tough dude who will excel with aggressive tackling on every kick due to his rugby background.
The personality of the City of Cleveland rests within the leg of this player. A raised pint to ya laddie!