The Browns were a brand new expansion team back in 1999 as “the new Browns.” When the former franchise relocated to Baltimore in 1996, the history, colors, logos, name, uniform design and history of the Browns remained. The NFL then promised Cleveland would once again have an NFL team to begin play in 1999.
Those first rosters were stocked via an expansion pool of NFL veterans from the other 30 teams.
Players who were placed into the expansion pool were all still roster members of their respective clubs, and nearly 75% were returned to their teams. Cleveland had the ability to choose no more than two players from any one team, and once a team loses a player, it could then withdraw two others from its list.
There were eight Pro Bowlers on those lists. In addition, the Browns were awarded the first overall pick in the NFL draft, plus the first pick in every round plus awarded seven more “extra selection” picks. With the first overall selection, Cleveland took QB Tim Couch from Kentucky.
Not a single offensive lineman was selected in that 1999 draft. The following year, the first offensive lineman taken wasn’t until the sixth round when they took OT Brad Bedell of Colorado.
So, that has since become a trivia question: With the new Browns, who was the first offensive lineman drafted? Brad Bedell.
Bedell (6’-4”, 299 pounds) grew up in the San Gabriel Valley in California where he was a first baseman as a lead-off hitter. He attended Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California just east of Pasadena. He didn’t begin playing football until his freshman year. He would later be named to the Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley All-Star team where he was listed at 6’-5” and a beefy 260 pounds. Bedell was also named Honorable Mention All-American.
In 1993 he was named the Pacific League’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and was part of an O-line that paved the way for one of the area’s most potent rushing attacks. Bedell played OT and DE plus special teams and drove a 1992 Mustang GT.
Bedell’s father owned Home Laundry, and with three sons each saw their time working there on occasion. Coming out of high school, Bedell, the youngest of his brothers, was heavily-recruited. He had offers from Ohio State, Arizona, Florida State, Colorado, USC, Washington, UCLA, Texas and Arizona State.
After high school, Bedell played football for Mt. San Antonio College and was a First Team All-JUCO All-American. He was rated as the top junior college offensive lineman plus the #4 overall junior college performer.
Bedell became a part of the 1997 recruiting class for Colorado where he played offensive guard and tackle and now was 6’-5” and 315 pounds. He started 24 of 26 games in his Colorado career. His sophomore year he did not allow a sack all season and was called for only one penalty. Bedell graded out at 89.0 percent over his final two seasons. In his junior campaign he was selected Third Team All-Big 12. As a senior he was named First Team All-Big 12 and made the All-American team.
He was invited to the Combine and had pretty good numbers.
He was drafted by the Browns in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Bedell played seven years in the NFL where he was known as an excellent pass protector. He saw action in 40 NFL games, including four starts, but missed the entire 2002 season recovering from a shoulder injury.
In 2003 he left Cleveland and was a last day cut with Washington. They placed him on their practice squad. Miami signed him in November but he was inactive seven games.
Then Green Bay acquired Bedell from Miami for a conditional 2006 draft choice. The acquisition provided depth at offensive tackle where the Packers had recently lost 2003 draft choice Brennan Curtin for the season with a torn ACL plus waived free agents Atlas Herrion and Jason Jimenez.
Bedell found his place with Green Bay. Numerous offensive linemen were - or had been - injured. He served as backup to Chad Clifton at left tackle and played in four games either at tackle, guard and even some tight end.
Once, himself and other teammates froze another player’s jeans. Maybe it was because the guy was a rookie. Or perhaps he was just a punter. Or possibly because the jeans were just there.
Bedell played two seasons in Green Bay and finished out his career in Houston for a single year.
His wife Jessica Marie was born and raised in Cleveland.
From there, Bedell began coaching college football. He started at Colorado, and then had stints at Northern Colorado, UC Davis, New Mexico State, Arkansas State, Texas State, Baylor, Boise State and now is with Auburn. His position was either offensive line coach or run game coordinator or both.
While at Boise State, he was on the staff of head coach Bryan Harsin whose football program had been running the smoothest system of any team in the Mountain West Conference over the past decade. When Harsin left for the Auburn head coaching gig, he took Bedell with him.
Overall, Bedell played in 23 NFL games with four starts in a Browns uniform from 2000-2001. His Twitter handle is @BradBedell. His nickname is Busey (after actor Gary Busey). Bedell currently lives in Auburn with his family although they still maintain a home in Boise.
DawgsByNature caught up with Bedell during his college off-season to find out what his first NFL start with the Browns was like, what life is like in the powerful SEC, and if he gets to hang out with Tom Brady since they were both drafted in the same round.
DBN: You were a standout in baseball and didn’t play football at Arcadia High School until your freshman year. At what point did you decide to focus solely on football?
Bedell: The baseball ended about the time I hit 270. I love football and thought that was my ticket. I thought I was a better football player than in baseball.
DBN: From there you ended up at Mt. San Antonio College. Why go the junior college route?
Bedell: I thought I was a little bit underdeveloped. I was recruited by a lot of schools, but that was my road. Everybody has a different journey to go to college and to go to the NFL. My journey as a player has always been a long one. In looking back on it, it was perfect for me. I got to go two years under Bill Fisk who is an unbelievable man. Great junior college program. I had really good coaching under Rob Roberts who developed me, I got stronger.
DBN: After your last year at Colorado, you were named to the All-American Team. How did you find out about this distinction, and who was the first person you told?
Bedell: I had a phenomenal line coach at Colorado by the name of Tom Cable. He told me then announced it to the team. Then I called my mom and dad.
DBN: You are an alumni of the “2000 Sixth-Round Club.” That is every player who was drafted in the same round as Tom Brady. Does it blow your mind that a lot of guys drafted in that round played in the NFL, and do you get invited to Brady’s house every year for a draft party?
Bedell: Never even spoke to the man. It is a distinction and our lives are intertwined in a way. Of course he’s had an unbelievable career. Might arguably the best of all time. It’s an honor to be drafted with him, but there were a lot of great guys in that draft including offensive linemen. Plus, it was a really good draft for running backs, too.
DBN: You were rated as the second best guard in your draft class, yet where you were drafted actually depended on where the Number 1 guy, Cosey Coleman of Tennessee, was selected. Coleman went midway in the second round to Tampa. If he was taken in the first round, does this mean you might have been a second round draft pick?
Bedell: I think that’s all hearsay. Really, who knows? There could have been a tackle that a team liked a little bit more. It’s very relative and not an exact science. The year I was drafted they took another offensive lineman in the seventh round, Manuia Savea out of Arizona, and he didn’t even come to camp. The other guy in the seventh round cornerback Rashidi Barnes played a few years, so you just never know. So many teams have so many different boards. If Coleman was taken earlier should I have been drafted earlier? Sure. But I can’t say that for a fact.
DBN: What was your first Browns training camp like?
Bedell: Hard. They throw everything at you and you gotta learn it. A lot of staying up late, getting that playbook out, then once you think you got it you have to take the field. Then everything’s different. The speed of the game is different, the teaching styles are soft and you got to study on your own. Then you have to make sacrifices. You have to do all that to play in the National Football League.
DBN: Your first game experience came in Week 12 in a road game against Tennessee. Right guard Everett Lindsay was ejected and head coach Chris Palmer put you in. Take us through those moments and the game.
Bedell: I was inactive early in the season and worked my way into that position. You are kinda sitting there and keeping your mind into the game. Everett threw a punch and he got ejected, and like, here we go. You don’t have enough time to think about it. You just got to go play the game, learn from it and then you move on. I have no memory of the first play. It goes quick and you think you are ready for it and then do the best you can.
DBN: In 2001 you got your first start in a preseason game against the Packers. What goes through your mind during the practice week leading up to a game that you know you are starting?
Bedell: Even if you are in a reserve role you have to put in the time, especially the preseason. You are going to be looked at, and so are you going to be prepared? That is the one thing they can see right away. I played backup for a lot of teams, but I was always prepared. That was one of the things I really took pride in - I prepared and tried to get as ready as I could. So going into that game was important because I am fighting for a roster spot. I am fighting to play, but I am also fighting to be on the roster later.
DBN: You were traded from Miami to the Packers in 2004 and primarily was LT Chad Clifton’s backup. What was Brett Favre like as a teammate, and give me your favorite Brett Favre moment.
Bedell: Phenomenal teammate. You learn a lot from a guy like that because he is not only a phenomenal football player, but he prepared like nobody else. The other thing is, he held everyone accountable. Don’t jump off-sides with Favre, he’s going to throw a football at you. And he did it and throws very hard. I didn’t get a ball thrown at me, but one time I was lined up as a tight end and didn’t go in motion and he was not happy.
DBN: During your NFL journey you played guard, offensive tackle and even a few snaps at tight end. Now as a coach, do you see the value in a player who has diversity, and tell me about your experience in the U-71 package.
Bedell: You learn a lot by playing all those positions. As a journeyman in the NFL I played form some really good offensive line coaches. As a coach now, it’s through that, that you learn and start to evolve. Because I knew I wanted to coach. So I learned a bunch of teaching styles in the meeting room and different techniques that really helped me to be a better coach going forward. You have to lead, and not everybody is going to be the same. With Green Bay being a tight end in the U-71, I now had to learn all the formations. That was just another tool I got to be a part of.
DBN: After the NFL, you briefly considered pursuing a career in the FBI. What changed your mind, and wouldn’t that job be way cooler than coaching?
Bedell: The way colleges go through coaches, probably. I always liked that part of the world. I got exposed to that when I was playing for Washington. My wife was working for a pediatrician whose husband worked protection for President Bush. He was secret service. So I talked to him a lot about it and thought it would be interesting but always wanted to coach. He told me I couldn’t do both. And he also told me if I played in the NFL until I was 0-years old and then tried to do that job, it was going to be really hard. I took that advice and went full into coaching. In the NFL, you are ending your career and just 29. And not all of us are going to make the kind of money where you can just go and be retired forever. I love the game of football and I love being around kids. If I get around the game of football, I’m happy.
DBN: Your first coaching job was as an intern with Colorado while finishing up your degree. But before Coach Dan Hawkins would hire you he made you organize his film room. What is that story, and didn’t Coach Hawk realize you were a six-year NFL veteran doing dirty work?
Bedell: That is a weird story. When I left Green Bay after Coach Sherman was fired, I thought I was out of football. I went back to Colorado to finish my degree. I introduced myself to Coach Hawkins and told him I would like to part of his staff. I told him I would volunteer just to get my foot in the door as I am working on my degree. He put me in the recruiting department and he sent me there. That department told me that they were transitioning everything over to DVD. I was sent to the basement and I tore labels off of high school recruits film after each use and re-organized everything. And that was my start in coaching. Coach Sherman became the offensive line coach with Houston, called me and I ended up playing another year. After that year, I was done and officially retired. After that I got the true intern position at Colorado and finished my degree.
DBN: You worked for several college programs, but Arkansas State is where you began to get a good feel as a top offensive line coach. There, you had a pair of Second Team All-Sunbelt Conference offensive linemen, a Rimington Trophy watch list guy, plus an offense that averaged 407.8 yards in total offense with 31 rushing touchdowns. Did this come from your NFL experience?
Bedell: Some of it. A lot of techniques that I had used while playing that had worked for me, tricks of the trade and things like that. Even to this day. It’s everything you know that works and feel comfortable with. Plus the studying. I still study to this day. We had a great offense at Arkansas State and I coached some really good players.
DBN: Throughout your tenure as a college coach, you have proven to be a leader of men. You have had multiple offensive linemen get all-conference recognition plus two guys named to the All-Mountain West Football First Team (Ezra Cleveland, Jr., John Molchon). What is your formula?
Bedell: You love them. I think that is a big difference when you are in college. To be a leader of men they have to trust you. And there’s a bond - a bond formed that will never go away. I can brag on those two players. Ezra is the starting left guard with the Minnesota Vikings and Molchon won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. Our center is now in New Mexico working as a firefighter who was a First Team All-Conference player, too. It’s knowing that you care for them and just keep working with them.
No please don’t take Bedell.— Bronco_Hammer (@Bronco_Hammer) January 4, 2021
DBN: You followed head coach Bryan Harsin who was your boss for four seasons at Boise State. How did you find out he was leaving Boise State for Auburn?
Bedell: He let us know in a staff meeting. Everything is first class with Coach Harsin. I respect him so much. He said, ‘Guys, I really appreciate everything you did here at Boise, I have accepted the head football job at Auburn.’ He then was putting together a staff. Some guys always end up with other guys.
DBN: You are coaching tight ends at Auburn. Your spent your entire life along the offensive line which obviously gives you plenty of blocking knowledge. As for the other responsibilities of a tight end, H-back or fullback, how did you use your resources to challenging himself?
Bedell: The offensive line coach was to be Will Friend who came over from Tennessee who has done a superb job and been in the SEC for years. So, I had the opportunity to coach the tight ends which has been awesome. Coach Harsin called and asked if I wanted this new opportunity and I said yes. He said, ‘Well, you’re coming now’ and I said ‘Perfect, let’s go.’ I had been in a comfort zone for years coaching O-Line and found out I had to work and study and love every minute of it.
DBN: Is the SEC actually the Triple-A level of the NFL?
Bedell: Yeh, it’s a good conference. It’s very challenging. It’s 365 days competing whether we are on the field, recruiting, it’s all the time, it’s demanding but it’s fun. You always want to be the best and this is the best conference to be in.
DBN: What was your first Iron Bowl experience like?
Bedell: Unbelievable. You know you watch this game on TV for years, it’s different when you get there. Three-and-one-half hours of so loud you can’t think, it’s fast, it’s chippy. It starts on Sunday when players aren’t talking and an amazing experience. I get another opportunity this year and look forward to it.
DBN: We have to ask: if you saw Nick Saban in a bar, because of that Auburn vs. Alabama thingy would you make sure you eventually got into a bar fight with him?
Bedell: I don’t want to be the guy who was the coach at Auburn that picked a fight with Nick Saban. Plus, I don’t think you are going to see Coach Saban in a bar. I would be world famous and woefully unemployed.
Editor’s note: It is an argument whether offensive guards ever get their 15 minutes of fame, but if Bedell were to actually get into a bar fight with Coach Saban he would be nationally known instantly.
DBN: Where do you see the NIL road going in college football?
Bedell: I don’t know. That is an unbelievable question. I think a lot of people are trying to figure it out right now. I think a lot of what you hear in the media is not true and we are talking about 17-year olds. I think they are going to have to figure it out and every university is different - every state is different. It’s been handed to us and is a challenging aspect to college athletics right now. You have to adapt. If you don’t adapt, the game’s going to pass you by.
DBN: Your coaching career has basically focused on the run game, offensive line and now tight ends. Do you have ambitions about one day being an offensive coach in the NFL?
Bedell: Aspirations I would say yeh, but I also love recruiting. I also think there is something to getting a young man from high school at 17, 18-years old. It’s such an influential time of their lives. You get to lead them and help them get their degree. And they’re going to end up getting married and things like that. I have so much fun with that, it means some much to me that I don’t want to think about coaching in the NFL right now. Seeing your guys get drafted, those are experiences that you just don’t get in the NFL.
DBN: You played in the NFL and are now coaching yet your big brother Derek is the only one that has been a head coach. Between competitive brothers, who wins?
Bedell: Well.....me. It is what it is. If it’s chess or checkers, he is good at that. If it’s a fist fight there is no doubt I am going to win. But he is having an unbelievable career. He has won seven straight conference titles. He has had kids go to the University of Texas and everywhere in the country. He is doing the same thing, just at the high school level. I am very proud of him and his success.
DBN: While with the Browns, what restaurants and bars did you go to after practices or home games?
Bedell: We went to Morgan’s where the O-Line would meet on Friday nights. I went to Cleats. We went to Blue Plate every now and again. We go back there when I visit my wife’s family who still live in the area.
DBN: One thing you stole from Cleveland was your wife Jessica who was born and raised. How did you meet, and when you were on the rosters of other NFL teams did she still rock in Browns attire?
Bedell: I was invited with (center) Shaun O’Hara to do a September 11 benefit for a Cleveland radio show at Cleats. She was an intern at the radio station. She said she was disgusted by how much Shaun and I were eating. That led to some conversation, a photo taken and then a date. We were married in 2007. She has always worn Browns stuff. Even when I was playing for the Dolphins or the Redskins or whatever, she would still wear her Browns stuff. She wears it everywhere. Now, she wouldn’t wear anything like that to games, but she is never going to get away from the Browns. Her whole family is the same way.
DBN: What was your fondest moments of being a Cleveland Brown?
Bedell: I don’t know that anyone is going to forget the first game played after 9-11. As I said that, I got chills. Because of the fan base in Cleveland and their passion, I will never forget that. Like the Iron Bowl, playing a home game in Cleveland is a special thing. My first start will always be special to me, but that first game after 9-11 is something I will never forget. I even told my son, that was a healing time after a terrorist attack. NFL football helped control the process in this country to get back to some sort of normalcy. I truly believe that. It was an emotional game.