Mike Vrabel, a native of Akron, OH, grew up rooting for the Cleveland Browns, the team his Tennessee Titans are getting set to face in their season opener on Sunday.
“Yeah, we grew up Browns fans,” Vrabel said. “Your buddies would bet you how many dog biscuits you could eat and stuff like that in sixth grade. Not too many places you could get away with wearing orange sweatpants other than northeast Ohio.”
Vrabel admitted to participating in some of those dog-biscuit bets.
“I’ve probably eaten a few dog biscuits in my day,” he said. “I think they said they actually have like cat hair in them or something like that, I think somebody told me something like that after the fact. And then you’re like, yeah that kind of makes sense. I think that was cat hair.”
When Vrabel was 20, he and his family attended the infamous final game at Cleveland Stadium in December of 1995 during which fans, in outrage over the Browns future relocation to Baltimore, began sawing off rows of seats and throwing them onto the field.
“I think we had pretty good seats,” he said. “We were somewhere at midfield because I remember watching the bleachers and seeing the bleachers get ripped off…They would just keep passing them down and dumping them onto the field. In the end zone, I think they would turn and go back to the other side because I think they were starting to pile up the course of the filed with the row of seats or bleachers at that time.”
KThe Titans’ head coach also had a handful of favorite players on the Cleveland teams he watched growing up.
“[Quarterback] Bernie Kosar, obviously. [Defensive linemen] Michael Dean Perry. They had this sandwich that McDonald’s made which was like a Michael Dean Perry burger. It had melted cheese and onions. It was pretty good…[linebacker] Clay Matthews, loved Clay Matthews. [Defensive back] Frank Minnifield, [DB] Hanford Dixson, [receiver] Webster Slaughter.”
As for his memories of Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway—who repeatedly terrorized the Browns during his career with the Broncos, most notably during “The Drive”—Vrabel put things very bluntly.
“Those aren’t very good memories. Those are nightmares.”
Vrabel’s Titans will face the Browns on Sunday at 12:00 CT in Cleveland.
Cover image: Bill Streicher/USA Today