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They never lose hope. They never die. They always encourage their players. It can be football, basketball or baseball. It matters not to the fateful and loyal fans of Cleveland.

I had a connection to Cleveland/Believeland before I was summoned there by the game that I grew to and still love.

I was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 10th round of the 1984 NFL draft. It was actually the end of the 10th and almost the 11th round. I get the call after two long days of waiting by the phone, alone on the second floor of Belk Hall on ECU’s campus. There was no TV, radio or video games to pass the time. It was just me and the phone.

The first voice I heard was Art Modell. He welcomed me then handed the phone to Sam Rutigliano. He did the same. I had a good feeling when I spoke to both.

I can’t say I was excited, but I can say I was pleased to be drafted because I was assured of a signing bonus. I search the memory bank and find the first time I tasted Cleveland.

I was in mine and my oldest brother’s room at Granny’s house watching football. It so happened that the Browns were on. It stood out to me because the Pruitts made some plays. Greg broke off one of his tear away punt returns and Mike showed some quickness and power while getting a much needed first down. It felt like some type of indicator to me. It registered and as I normally did, went on outside to play some. Later in my life, I would end up on the same team, in the same meeting room and blocking for Mike. That moment at Granny’s house comes to mind.

When I got to Cleveland, I did not understand the type of history in sports I was surrounded by and walking into. However, I found out quickly what type of weather I was going to be dealing with. As I stepped off the plane, sleet and wind hit my ass in the face. I was also hit in the face with some of the grand history that weekend by the Browns. They had a meet and greet with some of the “Past Greats.” It was a pleasure to meet Lou Groza and others. The more you are around the Browns, the more you understand the tradition that exist. The more you are around, the more you understand the connection that the players and the fans have.

I started to get a feel for what that felt like myself. My family and I stayed around after the season. We learned that on some type of winter days it was everyman for him/herself. That meant I was getting out of the car and there was no waiting or opening doors. I’m gone and you get there as best you can. During those times we bought Cleveland Cav season tickets.

I recognized that we had become fans when after we left a game, in which they had lost, I felt like I had lost. Well dam! Why is that? It gave firsthand knowledge and understanding regarding how Cleveland fans felt after we lost a game. It’s we won or we lost. It’s real ownership and real kinship of and to the team.

The new ESPN 30 for 30 movie “Believeland” does a hell of a job connecting the grand history of the Cleveland culture while intertwining the grand history of Cleveland Sports. You see, they are one and the same. Some of the stories that I heard about Cleveland I totally disregarded. I disregarded them because I lived there and stayed there after the seasons were over. My oldest daughters started their early schooling there. We made Cleveland our home and found nothing lacking.

While I was living there, I knew that the city had a incredible energy about it. That energy I felt when attending some of the play-off games of the Indians. I felt it first hand when we were on our run of playoff appearances from 1985-88. During those times, I felt jolts of energy when I just went out to walk the neighborhood. It was so real, I decided during some of those times to not venture to the malls or go to stores. I would stay close to home. I learned to capture that energy and direct it into my practices, then ultimately into the games.

The connection with the fans and excitement associated with each team provided a fabulous vibration. It created a tremendous bond that transcends the passing of time and shows a devotion that is like no other.

Absent Minded Living

This phenomena shows up in the game of football as it does in real life. I don’t know how many times I’ve corrected a player on something I know that he knows he knows what he was supposed to do. I have witnessed this numerous times when dealing with guys that would not go through their A’s.

• Alignment
• Assignment
• Adjustment

Players have their base assignments when a play is called in the huddle. The information gives them their base alignment, their basic assignment and based on what happens after the snap…an adjustment. When you see players running back and forth behind the line of scrimmage, most of the time they didn’t get the alignment. They were in the huddle but not really mentally present…Absent minded

Sometimes you see someone running Scott free to the QB. When that happens, you may see someone clap their hands or look back over their shoulder and holler “look out.” Assignments are being missed.

When you see a QB throwing a ball to a receiver that is not where he was supposed to be, the adjustment may have been missed by him or the QB.

This is very elementary to say but, either one of these three being missed is a degree of absent minded playing of the game. Within the game they are called MA’s… Missed assignments. Miss any part of the A’s and miss enough of them then games are loss.

It leads to a stressful and harmful football existence.

Now in real life. Not that the life of the player is not real. How does this play out?

How many times a day is this going to happen? I walk out of the door and dang it… I have to go back into the house to retrieve my phone. How about this one… There is a special key I need to get into the gate. I need to keep this with me at all times. I’m about to turn into the place where I have to swipe. I reach down to the ash tray to get it so I can proceed and SHIGGADDEE! The key is not there. So I gotta go through a process of where was it the last time I had it. Did I use it yesterday to get into the gate? Did I take it out if the car to get into the door as well? Shoot!!! How much time have I lost or will I lose each day with this absent minded living.

Living absent a mind is fricking nerve racking. The pressure starts to build when you have misplaced your keys, wallet or purse. The nerves start to get a little rattled until… until… Whew! There it is. I knew I put it there.

After I find what I was looking for, it’s no telling how much other productive things I could have been doing as opposed to losing the time and getting rattled. The time is not the only thing I lose with this type of living. As you know, time is money. I feel some life force is drained as well.

So what is the cause of this type of living? Is it due to the concussions I suffered while playing the game. Is it the natural aging process or can it be that I have not trained the mind to do its work?

There is no telling how much life is being taken out of me due to the poison that is being released when the nerves get frayed. I can feel the heart pumping when I get upset with myself and then…well the negative talk that I have with myself. The kickin my own ass mentality.

How about this. Let’s get a bit more energetic about our moments. Walk in a new light so we keep the spirits up. There has to be a willingness to exercise the mind, so as to build the mental muscle…Focus takes effort as much as absent mindedness does. But, it is a preemptive strike and puts us in a better frame of mind. It keeps us away from the energy that can do us harm.

Focusing, breathing and as much as you can, stay in the balance. This will help with staying present when the inevitable absent minded self shows up, and it will, help you minimize the damage that the system can do to itself. Hmmmm… SHIGGADDEE… I just misplaced my name tag. I swear it was just in my hand… Now it’s nowhere to be found… Well, it will show up or I’ll have to foot another… Time and money the absent minded way.

Be Blessed

An NFL Fury…Gift & Curse

Being on the edge in all aspects of playing the game, in practice, meetings, walk throughs and the games is what makes the great great. It is what guides them as they go about the daily preparation and in the mist of the battle. Being on that edge, feeling that fire continually can be maddening.

There is the possibility of being driven insane by the energy that burns inside. Controlling that energy is the charge we face in our personal battles. Temporary insanity is what it’s called in the court of law. It has been that energy that we have been bequeathed by the Spirit. It is our task to learn how to transfer it from challenge to champion in our profession and our everyday lives.

Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in the NFL. He has reached iconic status after his breakout rookie season with the New York Giants. He makes the great catches of the past look mundane. He is a man that has a burning desire to help his team be the best. That desire is the driving force behind his personal and pro-football greatness. Now he has taken a high portion of the blame for losing a game and his cool.

What is Odell’s charge in the matter? He must, as a player and as a man, take the energy that it takes to play the game and focus it. He should not have tried to justify himself in this situation. He must make himself right by realizing how he was affected.

To make himself right is to take personal all his actions. The thoughts that go into the depths of who and what he is must be reflected upon. What is the root of the energy that makes him special? I believe it’s a gift that will keep on giving. That gift that takes him to the level of “Kingsmanship” is the curse that can make him as hated as he is loved.

The outside must not be the determinant for him. Yes, listen to some the guidance that is given. Then he must go within to truly find the answers he needs. Let the spirit that has sparked him to where he is lead him to the next area in his life. That small voice inside will give him the truth of life.

To me, the breath is the key to the connection. I can remember having that fire. It caused me to lose it in some games. The play-off game vs the Oilers in 1988 was my crowning. I got two personal fouls called on me back to back in that game. I was playing with that energy and lost it, became temporally insane then got the sting. That sting drove me to the Redskins where there was the spiritual guidance to assist in my development to “Kingsmanship” and championship. We were in field goal range when it happened. We lost because of it.

The lesson is there and quite clear for this man that can be monster. He has been warned. Now the task has really begun.

Yes I had been warned before but didn’t have or wasn’t given the proper tools to grow out of it. I needed that thing that would help me be on that edge but still have that level of control needed to play the game at the level necessary. “The BREATH.”

That edge is where Odell needs to be. It’s what makes him the special player he is. The breath will guide him from his depth. The inner man. Gain your control. “Control the breath, control the mind.”


Next Man Trained

The preparation process for success is continual. Whether you are at the top of the game or playing pee wee level football. In college and pro level football, when a guy gets hurt there is a saying that it has to be the next man up mentality that will keep the teams’ success moving in the right direction.

When I was with the Ravens in 1999, the offense was deathly afraid of losing Jamal Lewis. I was mystified by that mentality. I have been and always had the thought that the game must go on. I felt that I was crucial to the teams success, but just in case I would always share my thoughts, playing tips and lessons with the guys that backed me up. I wanted them to be as good if not better than me. A healthy team perspective allows guys to be confident in their worth to the team and want the worth of others to be the same. If I went down, I wanted the next guy to be prepared in such a way the team would still be successful.

To me the saying ought to be the next man trained and prepared for success. As a coach, I coached my number one just as I coached the guy on the practice squad. I felt like both had the same amount of importance and could be called upon to be in the game at anytime. I trained each one on their level while attempting to have each prepared to do their jobs at the ability needed for the team to be successful. I would often tell the players that were not the number one guy to get ready to start. Waiting until someone gets hurt is too late. The right type of mind has to have the intent in mind everyday. You have to always be prepared, so when it happens, you are ready.” NEXT MAN TRAINED

The next guy trained is the responsibility of the player, but to me even more so the responsibility of the coaches. Good coaches have the ability to seem like they have stock piled talent. What they have stockpiled is the ability to continue to train the players the necessary way that has them prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. They realize that it’s not if a player will get hurt, it is when. Continually training the ballers is an obligation and duty that coaches perform. Well GOOD COACHES.

Driven to be successful as a coach… Next man trained!


Intent gives you direction. It will be a rudder to your boat, a wind to fill your sail and energy to make the right decisions in your life.

Knowing what you intend to achieve in each moment of life can help you build a solid foundation. Start each task with as clear an intent as possible. If you are an athlete, review as much as you can, as yourself, why are you going into this meeting, why are you going to run the hill? Give yourself as much energy as you desire. The more directed energy you have, the more you will head towards the future you desire.

The directed energy will help you overcome or shake off anything that can get you off course. If you have allowed anything to get you off course, then intent can get you redirected.

To me, intent gives you purpose. When your tired of going to a meeting, when you want to question your coaches decisions or when one of your teammates wants to do something that will hurt the process and progress of the team, your team’s overall intent can assist you.

Moment by moment, experience after experience, intent can keep you focused.

The mind wants to go on small trips. It wants to drift along the way sometimes. It wants to travel on the other side of town when you are in the meeting. It wants to take a nap instead of stay awake and get the most out of the meeting. Intent will help you build the mental muscle.

For the most part, training the mind is not what we focus on. Lifting weights and building strength takes rep after rep, year in and year out. Lifting mental weights should be focused on as well. Intent will assist in the weight training of the mind.

Earnest Byner

The Game For Life

Playing the game for a life time. Playing the game because it became a life. Playing the game just for the plain ole love of the game.

I have played and have coached. Both, to me, was why I was born. Born to play then reborn to coach. Natural at both, is what I would say. While playing and coaching, the referee played a major part in the game. Blowing the whistle to start the process of play and blowing it to stop a play (Okay, we won’t mention blowing a call… Everybody Fumbles! Oops).

For me, the blowing of the whistle at the end of a play, was like hitting a reset button. It gave me a chance to get back into the game if I didn’t do the job as it should have been done. It also gave me an opportunity to get back to balance when I made a fantastic play.

After the whistle, it was refocus time. Time to get singularly focused. The next play was being dialed up and I needed to be dialed in. Forgetting all that had happened on the play before and focusing on the next play… clarity was provided. Directives were given by the QB, giving me my inspirations for the next play.

Life offers some whistles. A chance to hit the reset button. Life, as does the game, doesn’t stop. It provides moments to revisit, rejuvenate then focus on the next play.

Both life and the game are beautiful. They are to be cherished and loved. Be inspired.

Mental and Physical Stretching

As the body needs stretching to operate optimally, so does the mind. As with the body, when it hasn’t been stretched in a while, it resists what you are trying to do. If you fight with it, then it will continue to resist. If you have the courage to breathe deep and slow thus taking the attention away from the pain then you are feeling. Focus the attention nice and slow so that there is a relaxing and the muscle becomes more pliable.

When dynamic changes have come in our society, it was painful mentally to those who resisted. Those who took the time to observe, think and breathe were more able to look at universal truths and have their mind stretch in such a way that the adjustment wasn’t painful for them.

With some changes we have to be forced to deal with and accept because we get stuck in our ways. We become less flexible when we resist evolution. The world will evolve, so we should be on alert regarding. Then when our minds are forced to stretch, it won’t be as mentally painful as it is when we are inactive or active, but don’t stretch our muscles.

We should do our best to stretch both mentally and physically, so the body and the brain can absorb the change and growth needed to live a healthy vibrant life.

Breathe and Feel

Each breath brings with it thoughts and direction. Each one of the thoughts are mini prayers. When directed they become our path. Continually impressing the mind while in prayer helps to direct the inner spirit. If we practice control of the breath and the mini thoughts, we can assist the manifestations in our life.

By feeling what we truly desire…by adding the positive emotions that have been gifted to us, we can drive our lives into what we feel and believe.

The inner man does not know or let’s say doesn’t differentiate between when you say “I do want” or “I don’t want.” Be as clear as possible regarding your true desires. Love yourself enough to place your breath and feeling in proper order.

Browns Hope

There may be a little disappointment in the Browns runners at this point. It has been said that “Guys don’t want to be the lead bell cow guy.” Ooooo another feather got ruffled! The Browns are looking for a leader and some ownership from the backfield participants. There is disappointment but, there is hope for recovery.

My hope is in the position coach they have. He has been through many wars, as a player and as a long standing and good coach. He understands how to get into the minds of his guys and find out what motivates them.

My hope is also in the guys that are trying to play the position. West, based on interactions that I have seen, has to mature. At times, don’t spend time trying to prove you know what you are doing while showing that you don’t. Based on tape studied, he also has to develop his overall understanding of the run concepts so he can best help his lineman be better players. Setting up you lineman is one of the best things great runners do. I do feel that he will get it, after his brief example that the game can be taken away from you.

There may need to be more examples of that to keep him inspired.

Isaiah Crowell has been the healthiest so far. I liked his demeanor over all. I have felt he has the ability to step in. I like his overall demeanor and feel he can develop into a leader for the Browns team. Also, he may be the best pass protector.

Duke seems to have the best overall talent. After my brief encounter with him, I sense he has another gear mentally. When the games get bigger, he may be the one that can go to that next level. His best ability will be available.

Wilbert has been able to motivate, inspire and teach good players. Look for that to continue as the season progresses.

As for now Wilbert is >>>

Full Commentary>>>


I always played the games, no matter what it was, to win. It was simply because I loved to compete. Whether it was marbles, pool, baseball, basketball, track running or playing football, I was going to give it my all. That drive, intense desire and love for the games was innate.

Some writers use to call me a junk player because when we were getting blown out, I continued to play hard and make plays. My feel is if you’re going to play then give it all you got, no matter what the circumstances are.

To play or not is generally the consideration or thought going into the preseason games. If a player is going to play, then the next question for the team is how much does he play. Most players want to know how much they are playing and will bug the position coach to no end to find out.

I had a different approach. I didn’t care how much I played. I went into the game like it was a regular season game. I wanted to get my timing and feel for my lineman. When it was time for me to be replaced, I wanted to play more. To me, the players that love the game want to play in the game and want to win whether it’s pre or regular season.

One thing about playing to stay healthy and trying to keep guys healthy is what you think about most is what tend to become. It becomes your reality. Yes, we all want our players or better said our good players, to be available for the opening of the regular season.

You have to play football to be ready to play “good” football. So, if they don’t play in the preseason, then they won’t be as sharp OR in the type of shape that is needed to play consistently good football when the regular season rolls around. Generally, when players get tired they lose focus, so mental errors show up and the potential to get injured increases.

While watching the first few games, see if big mistakes late in the game, cost some of your teams. Check for pulled groins, calfs and hamstrings that may show up on injury reports.

They talk about the running back position as a position that’s prone to injury. Check the next injury report and see whether other high profile positions are present. It’s an occupational hazard.

I feel it’s a by product of the approach in training camp and the pre-season. Then there is acceleration into the regular season. If your players haven’t been playing much, if at all, in the pre-season then go into the regular season playing 50-60 plays, have they been prepared.

The two a-day practices are a thing of the past. This keeps guys from developing the stamina needed to play as well.

When you can practice like its a game then also play the preseason like it really means something, better football is played and the potential for injuries and fatigue mistakes will be decreased. The reason you have depth and good coaches that develop players is called next guy up.

In reality how wise is it to not play or practice the guys to get them ready. Watch the teams that played their starters. Players can get injured walking across the street.

There was a lot of evidence regarding the players not being in shape. Guys taking knees as well as taking themselves out of the game.

There is one other aspect that needs to be addressed. The coaches are out of shape as well. The evidence can be seen in the number of timeouts that has to be taken just before the ball is snapped. The TOs are needed by both offensive and defensive coaches. Just as with the players, the coaches need the experience of the pre-season to get acclimated to game speed. The TOs that they are taken early in the first and second half will eventually cost teams when a two minute drive is needed and the team is either down in time outs or out of them all together.

As the season progresses, if a player does not get injured they will get into better shape and should play better and more sustained football. You will also see less TOs taken by coaching staffs as they will also improve and be able to gauge time and situations better. Players and coaches either get better or they go home while the teams that get off to a good start and build on early success, go on to the play-offs. The growth process is continual.