First I want you to
know what an honor it is to work with the North Texas Browns Backers. Your loyalty and never-say-die attitude is what separates
this group from similar organizations of other teams. You are a credit to yourself, this club and the Cleveland Browns. I am proud to be associated with
I am sure the most curious
thing about me is I have never been to Cleveland. I am a native Texan and want to tell you how I became
a Browns Fan.
It started when I
was about nine or ten years old, either 1956 or 57. My father was not a big sports fan so we didn't see a lot on TV.
One Sunday afternoon I went to a friend’s house to play. He had gone to the store with his mother and his father
was watching a football game on TV. He invited me to watch the game until my friend returned. I really
got interested and started asking him questions about the game and the teams. You have probably guessed one of the teams
was the Browns. He wanted the Browns to win, so I did too. To this day I cannot remember who the other team was.
My friend got home and I made him watch the rest of the game. The Browns won. The next Sunday I went to my friends,
he was home and wanted to play. I told him I came to watch the Browns play with his Dad. Much to my surprise he
said the Browns weren't on TV, some other teams were playing. I said "But there they are!” That's when I
learned they were not the "Browns" because they were wearing brown jerseys, like one of the teams playing then, but because
they were the Cleveland Browns. Those of you who remember black and white
TV can appreciate this.
Although the Cowboys
had come on the scene in the early 60's I always checked the paper for the Browns score and watched them the few times they
were on TV. Fast forward to 1968.
I was in the service
and stationed at an Air Force Base in Tennessee. I met another GI from New Albany, Ohio and he was a big time Browns Fan. Other
than scores the only information we got was from his home town paper (about 5 days late) and letters from his family.
For those of you who cannot remember we were still a few decades away from Direct TV and the NFL Channel and Al Gore hadn't
invented the internet yet.
This doesn't have
anything to do with the Browns but it does Ohio. I spent New Years Day, 1969, with my Browns
Fan buddy in a "Sports" Bar somewhere in the Columbus-New Albany area. We got there early to watch the Cotton Bowl. As we were
good friends he helped me rally support for the Longhorns playing Tennessee, and it seemed everyone enjoyed the fun while
waiting for the Rose Bowl to start, Texas 36 Tennessee 13. Now it was my turn to lend support for Ohio State, and by this time I was well prepared to do so. The next day I didn't remember a lot of
the specifics, but the score was Ohio State 27 USC 16.
The next fall I was
transferred to Alaska. For two years the only live broadcast were
two moon landings and three football games, none of them the Browns. They did fly in tapes from Seattle and were shown the following weekend. This was quite profitable until the new transfers figured it out.
Fast forward to the summer of 1986.
I was coaching a Little
League baseball team. Near the end of a game I took exception to a call at home plate. As any normal (hot headed)
coach and parent would do I chose to discuss the play with the home plate umpire very openly (and loudly). Has anybody
ever won one of those discussions (arguments)? Everyone was waiting for the fight to break out. Fifteen minutes
after the game the umpire and I were leaning against the fence getting to know each other while watching the next
game. The umpire was Mike Mango.
The following March
the "Marcy" most of you have heard so much about was born. For those of you who don't know she is Mike and Lani's youngest
daughter. In August my wife, Ann, was forced into action (this is another story) as Marcy's baby sitter. Over
the next few years our families, including all our children, became very close. Mike's and my sons, Philip and Patrick,
played on a state champion high school baseball team together. Philip and my other son, Tim, played football together.
I started going to
the Browns Backers with Mike. I really connected with how passionate the fans were. I had never been around
so many at one time. I new it was something special. I may be from Texas, but it broke my heart when the team moved to Baltimore. Look out Dallas; it may be the Little Rock Hillbillies next year. When the "new" Browns came along Mike and another Backer formed the North Texas Browns Backers.
After a year she moved away and Mike ask me to help and the rest is history.
There are a lot of
things I am thankful for, each and every one of you, my family, the Mangos, Little League baseball games, old home town news
papers, black and white television and mothers who take their kids to the store. Sometimes it’s the little
things that make us who we are.