Browns starting quarterback Trent Dilfer works out with the
first-team offense at the first official training camp practice
Friday before a crowd estimated at 2,500.
(Photos by Larry Bennet)
here for an archive of West Life Sports Editor Zachary
Dzurick's "Red Right 88" weekly columns.
training camp in Berea great for the whole family
By Zachary Dzurick
Published Aug. 3, 2005
many media members what the most amazing aspect about Cleveland
sports is and they will invariably talk about the bulletproof Browns.
No matter their performance on the field or in the front office,
the fans forgive them and still support the team.
A perfect example is after two gut wrenching difficult seasons,
a large crowd flocked to Berea for the Browns first official day
of training camp last Friday. The mood was one of optimism that
the new regime has their beloved Brownies back on the right track.
For the Westshore based fan, it is just a short journey to Berea.
And you can't beat the price for a family outing since it is free.
Parking is also free (sort of). It is illegal to park on the surrounding
streets without a pass in Berea. So the Browns have arranged parking
at Baldwin-Wallace College on Bagley Road. Shuttles then transport
you to the main gate of the facility located at Beech Street. However,
more than one enterprising neighbor is selling parking spots closer
to camp. Note, fans can't enter or exit from the media entrance
on Lou Groza Boulevard.
If you have visited camp before you will find a different set-up
this season. New Vice President of Stadium Events and Operations
Don Renzulli said the Browns explored many options for this training
camp but decided that simpler was better.
"We looked at what we have done in the past and went through at
least 15 revisions of plans of what we were going to do and tried
to make it a lot bigger and then pulled back with the theme being
trying to reconnect with the fans," Renzulli said. "In the past
we have four fields, now we have three fields so you can see more.
We have taken out the interactive things we thought we could do
because we have limited space. The whole theme was to get the fans
Also available is a special VIP section.
"The VIP hospitality tents we have taken off the ground and air
conditioned those," Renzulli said. "Cintas, as the presenting sponsor,
has one tent with the other three corporate sponsors rotating. There
is also an option for people to buy a tent for one session."
Frye signs an autograph at Browns training camp.
new this year the second session of two-a-days will be held at a
more fan friendly time of 5:30 p.m. Those dates are today and Friday
as well as August 9, 16 and 23. The morning practices on those days
begin at 8:45 a.m., with most other days having 2:30 p.m. practices.
"The second session is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. so you don't have to take
off from work," Renzulli said. "You can come down and have a beer
and the kids can have a soda."
There are merchandise tents and food concessions. There is also
a beer tent for adults and a stand that sells water and soda.
Showing up for the first official day of camp was the Grillo family
of Westlake. Sal and Nikki brought their kids Sal, 11, and Maddie,
8. Both Sals were making their second trip and the girls did not
want to miss out on the fun this year.
"Sal and I came once last year," Sal Sr. said. "He is a really big
fan. It is the closest you can get to them and you can get autographs.
The price is a good price for the family."
Droughns signs an autograph at Browns training camp.
Grillos were amazed by the amount of support showed by the 2,500
fans in attendance for a 3:30 p.m. practice on Friday in July.
"It is really nice," Nikki said. "I have never been here before.
This is such a football town look at all these people here supporting
"It just shows what kind of die hard fans this team has," Sal added.
Olmsted Falls sophomores- to-be Brent Edmunds and Tim Straffen were
also there to show their support for the Orange and Brown.
"I am not surprised by the amount of people here because everyone
loves the Browns," Straffen said. "A true fan comes out and supports
the team regardless of the regular season results. We made some
good moves. We finally did the right things in the off season."
For Edmunds, who plays football for the Bulldogs, watching practice
is also a valuable learning experience.
"I am a big time fan," Edmunds said. "You can pick up a lot watching
what they do."
A special moment at last year's camp had the McNeil family from
Chagrin Falls back this year.
"Last season my sons got to carry some of the player's helmets after
practice," Scott McNeil said. "It was pretty exciting for them and
they wanted to come back. My youngest in particular has a bond now
with Frisman Jackson, whose helmet he carried. He is now his favorite
Amherst's Mandy Kamms brought her kids Vinnie, 9, Blake, 8, Nick,
6, and Makayla, 6 to the first day of camp as well. The older boys
came last year and they have been waiting for days for us to come,
"It's the greatest thing there is," Vinnie said.
After each training session, tents are set up for kids under the
age of 12 to get players autographs. However many players after
practice stop by the perimeter of the practice field to sign for
everyone. The players say the fan support means a great deal to
"This was how many people came out to our games sometimes in Akron,"
rookie quarterback Charlie Frye said. "This is a different environment
to see the fans out here really excited. When I first came out here
I had chills down my back. To finally be an official Cleveland Brown
and come to training camp is awesome."
Now a veteran, center Jeff Faine loves to interact with the fans
after practice and sign whatever he can.
"Without a doubt I truly enjoy it," Faine said. "I was that kid
once. It is my pleasure and it's an honor. That is just the true
tale of our fans. They are true fans who are truly fanatical and
passionate. It is a pleasure to play in this city."
For Renzulli, the first day of camp signaled a new hope for the
future as the Browns try to reconnect with die-hard fans.
"I am new here in town," Renzulli said. "The turnout for the first
day was great. They were lined up on Bagley down to 71. It is exciting.
We are zero and zero like everyone else and hopefully it is the
start of something good. Training camp is the only time you can
get this close to the players, who will be signing autographs. It
is as close as you can get. It is something you can't do most places."
No matter what the Browns record, it seems there will always be
a love affair with the team in this town. As WTAM sports director
Mike Snyder explained.
"Fans are fans. They love their Browns."
Event this Saturday at Cleveland Browns Stadium: On Saturday,
the Browns will not practice in Berea in order to host a "Family Fun
Night" at Cleveland Browns Stadium that will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets
are $5 and benefit the Cleveland Browns Foundation. After practice
fans will be able to get autographs and enjoy a special Fireworks
show. There will be numerous giveaways including a "Jersey off the
Back" raffle. The following players will literally take off their
jerseys and hand them to lucky fans: Trent Dilfer, Braylon Edwards,
Charlie Frye, Reuben Droughns, Lee Suggs, Phil Dawson, Kyle Richardson,
Joe Andruzzi, Aaron Shea, Daylon McCutheon, Brodney Poole, Andra Davis,
Antonio Perkins, Dennis Northcutt and Jeff Faine. Tickets can be purchased
at Browns Stadium or at Ticketmaster locations.
Cleveland Browns Training
can't bring: weapons, noisemakers, animals, aerosol cans,
alcoholic beverages, cans, glass bottles or hard plastic coolers.
You can bring: soft
case coolers, plastic bottles, strollers, umbrellas, fanny
backs, back packs, folding chairs, lawn chairs and diaper
bags. (But all are subject to search)
are allowed but must not interfere with other fans' enjoyment
or used commercially.