I’ve been asked countless times over the past several months from my non-Cleveland buddies to sum up my thoughts on my teams and this whirlwind of a summer. No doubt the same questions most of you are fielding as well, such as “So, thoughts on LeBron?” or “Will Manziel get that starting spot?”. I lost count of the number of articles I’ve read from Clevelanders and non-Clevelanders on how we should feel, who’s going to play, who’s going to win, who’s going to do what, how much money is going to pour in, what the analysts are saying, etc. And you know what? I’ll take every second of it. I can’t wait to see every bar and restaurant on 25th and 6th filled to the brim every night of the week. Those people and economy deserve it. I’m counting down the days until I can see LeBron run out onto the court at the Q and toss up that chalk. And Johnny Football, the most electrifying college football player in recent memory, suiting up for the Brown and Orange? First time in my 26 years I’ve actually welcomed the thought of summer ending so we can get this show on the road.
Needless to say there’s about 500 different topics that could be addressed about the current sports situation in Cleveland. But the one I’m enjoying more than any other involves two guys that will be running out of the tunnel this fall at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Enter Brian Hoyer and Donte Whitner.
If there’s one thing I can appreciate more than any other sports topic in Cleveland, it’s seeing hometown guys playing for the hometown teams. I’m as big a LeBron fan as anyone, but it’s about time he started sharing the “hometown kid” title.
Brief recap for anyone living under a rock lately:
Born on the Westside in ’85, played QB at Ignatius and graduated in ’03. Went to play QB at Michigan State under John L. Smith and Dantonio. Undrafted in ’09 but picked up by New England where he was awarded the role of understudy to Tom Brady for a couple years. Released in 2012 then had a few short stints with the Steelers and Cardinals before coming back to the 216.
Born in Cleveland, also in ’85. Played high school for the legendary Ginn Sr. at Glenville, also graduating in ’03. Accepted a scholarship offer and played at Ohio State for a few years before transferring to San Jose State University. Drafted by Buffalo in 2006 – first round, 8th pick.
Quick Fact: As Whitner was playing football outside of his house when he was 6 years old, he chased a ball into the street and was struck by a car. His leg was broken in 30+ places and doctors told him he may never walk again. Think about that for a second, then take a quick look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBEdigBUoN8
They’ve seen the same Cleveland we have over the years. Watched the same teams, same games, same victories, same heartbreaks. Both grew up just a few minutes from the field, both hoping to run out of that tunnel some day. They understand the blood and tears we pour into every damn season and team, regardless of last week/year’s outcome.
Now veterans, they’re going to be leaders in that locker room, one on each side of the ball. They understand better than probably anyone on that team how much a successful season means to Cleveland. They get to pump up an entire team with not only their raw talents, but with battle scars from years of Cleveland sports past. Every Sunday when they look up at that maniacal, beautiful Dawg Pound, they’ll see their entire city looking back at them. A privilege few have ever received.
Just a couple kids from Cleveland.