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Dawgs By Nature - All Posts A Cleveland Browns blog

  • Browns training camp 1985: Origins of the Dawg Pound
    by Barry Shuck on July 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Photo by Tom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images Something so simple turned out to be a Cleveland mainstay that opposing teams want nothing to do with The Dawg Pound. Cleveland Browns Dawg Pound. How exactly does that fit? Cleveland received their team name “the Browns” from the man who started the franchise from Day One: Paul Brown. The franchise was a member of the eight-team All-America Football Conference, an NFL rival league from 1946-1949. Before the team had its first game, there was a name-the-team contest. The winner was “Panthers.” But a man named George T. Jones contacted the new Cleveland franchise and told them he owned the rights to the name “Cleveland Panthers” from a team he once owned in 1927 and wanted to be paid a large sum in order to relinquish the rights. Soon thereafter, Browns was chosen. Perhaps Browns refer to some sort of hunting dogs, like Bluetick Hounds? Everyone on every NFL team knows that the Dawg Pound is at FirstEnergy Stadium and previously at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. This spectacle is located in the east end zone stands of the stadium which are bleacher seats. In both stadiums. When they tore down Municipal Stadium in 1996 and built the new stadium (then named Cleveland Browns Stadium), they didn’t install fancy single seating with armrests and curved backs in the east end zone sections. The new Dawg Pound was just like the old Dawg Pound with more bleachers – just 1999-style bleachers instead of 1930-style bleachers. And no PSL fees. So when the new Browns came back into the NFL fold in 1999, the Dawg Pound was designed into the fabric of the new arena. A Life of its Own The Dawg Pound is almost a living, breathing entity. It has its own Facebook page. Since the year 2000, there have been four songs written about it. The Browns have been issued a trademark for the name as a reference to this section of fans and is the only officially-branded logo in the NFL for a team’s fan base. The Seattle Seahawks use “The 12th Man” as a label for its fan base, but they rent that from Texas A&M University. The universal chant that almost every sports team in America uses (that does not display an American Indian tribe) goes something like, “Here we go (insert team name), here we go!” But in the Dawg Pound, the chant is slanted to “Here we go Brownies, here we go! Woof! Woof!” Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images The Dawg Pound loves the defense. In old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, any Browns player who intercepted the ball for a touchdown would run up that short grass mound to the Pound and be welcomed by the throngs of fans usually met with beer thrown on them; which was meant as part of the celebration and was never considered disrespectful. Items such as bones, batteries, various dog treats and such were reserved for the offense, and of course - the other teams. Which is all part of the intimidation for the opposing club. Teams did not want to come into that east end zone especially on a potential touchdown drive. The action in this part of the stadium is simply electric, rowdy, zealous, inebriating, chaotic, intense and definitely loud. But fans make sure the defensive players are never in harm’s way. Generally speaking, the defense is the fantasy playing arm of the Dawg Pound itself if they were able to suit up for a game. This unit also represents every fan who sits in the east end zone: hard-working, every day folks, passionate, non-quitters, loyal, and basically the rock of the ballclub. How the Dawg Pound got its name You would think that a name as timeless as “The Dawg Pound” would be derived from some corrections institution. Perhaps a player who was released from some dangerous prison and was a member of a gang here. And when this former con-now player would hit someone pretty dang hard, folks would say, “Yeh, that’s that junkyard Dawg Pound mentality!” Which would make a great story. But the truth is, the name was derived by a game two of Cleveland’s players made up. The Browns held their training camp under head coach Marty Schottenheimer at Lakeland Community College in Kirkland, Ohio from 1982-1991. In 1985, the defensive backfield featured Hanford Dixon, Al Gross, Frank Minnifield and Felix Wright, plus a stellar linebacker crew of Tom Cousineau, Eddie Johnson and Chip Banks. The defensive front had Bob Golic, Carl Hairston and Reggie Camp. During practices, the entire defense had a problem with getting into the backfield to disrupt the passing game as rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar was picking them apart each day. Minnifield and Dixon came up with a game to challenge play during those training camp practices in an attempt to encourage the defense to get to Kosar and stop the deluge of pass completions and then having to read about it in the next day’s paper. Dixon was taken with the 22nd pick in the first round by the Browns in the 1991 NFL draft out of Southern Mississippi. He would later be selected to two Pro Bowls. Minnifield was a standout cornerback in the United States Football League and joined Cleveland in 1984. He subsequently went to four Pro Bowls plus was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. Hanford Dixon (left) and Frank Minnifield To get more pressure on the quarterback, Minnifield and Dixon assessed that every player on the defense were dogs, and Kosar was the cat. During these practices, whenever any defender would get a sack, a quarterback hurry or an interception, Minnifield and Dixon would bark like dogs right there on the field. This encouraged the other defensive players to do the same. After a while, the spectators in attendance picked up on this, and when the players would bark, most of them would likewise. This placed the defense as fan favorites with the crowd all during training camp. When the regular season began, at home games the crowd in those east end zone stands were some of the same fans that had barked during training camp. Fans whom are attorneys, doctors, engineers or judges are not going to bark at players during a practice. And they certainly were not buying those east end zone bleacher seats. Municipal Stadium was old, but it had metal seats with arm rests, wooden backs and a fold-down slightly-curved seat. Plus, these seats were in covered areas so that in the hot months the fans were not slowly roasted during games, and when the sky opened up and began to rain, those spectators had some sort of coverage overhead. Not in the east end zone. The seats were bleachers which provided a mass spectator union. There wasn’t an overhead top section with a roof, so the elements on the field were the same elements in the east end zone. The cost per seat was inexpensive, also. You meld all of these situations together and you get a different classification of fans who don’t drive a Mercedes. The five sections of blue seats in this end of the stadium through Gate “E” had already been referred to as “The Pound.” Basically, it was viewed as the bad neighborhood within the stadium. The east end zone was already known as being the most vocal sections in the stadium. After downing numerous cheap beers and the ability to be right there close to the field was a good part of the reason. What set this section apart though, was something else Dixon and Minnifield did. The two star defensive backs designed, drew and painted the very first “Dawg Pound” sign, and then hung it up on the chain link fence outside the east end zone section before a preseason game. It read: “Dawg Country. No Cats Allowed.” Also on the sign was a drawing of the State of Ohio with a human football player whose face was that of a junkyard dog wearing Dixon’s jersey number 29, signaling number one with one hand and choking a cat with the other. Signs usually referred to the section as “dogs” or “The Pound” whereas the inventors of the invention added a new and amended wrinkle: d-a-w-g-s. The east end zone had been officially christened “The Dawg Pound.” These fans accepted the designation with the usual vigor, and not only would bark for the defense’s successes during the game, but would show up in dog attire, masks, bone-shaped hats and other costumes that blended with the atmosphere. From there, it simply spread. Fazio’s Grocery Stores sold posters that depicted the four defensive backs holding leashes to a Rottweiler, pit bull, German Shepard and a Doberman with the caption “The Last Dogs of Defense.” The old Dawg Pound Municipal Stadium was built in 1930 as a 74,438-seat baseball stadium for the hometown Cleveland Indians. It was shaped to fit the baseball diamond. When pro football became more popular in the mid-1930s, the Cleveland Rams used it on occasion for their bigger games which were projected to draw bigger gates. Municipal Stadium with east end zone close to the fans A football field would fit inside this stadium, but the field was crammed to the center field fence on one end while the other end zone was about where first and third base line up which made the west end zone very far. Both sides of the football field stands the fans were not close also and had lots of extra room on the sidelines which was actually foul territory for baseball. But not the east end zone. The east end zone painted lines almost hugged the stands. Plus, the east end zone was all one level. Whereas the other parts of the stadium had three lower levels with another three covered upper sections with plenty of seats (held 80,000 for football) including the west end zone, this part of the stadium mapped out for football games was a single level without any upper section completely uncovered and susceptible to the elements. Remember, the outside four sections were designed as center field seating, which is the farthest point of view during a baseball game. The middle five center sections painted as blue seats were vacant during baseball games so that batters could see the ball coming from the pitcher. This east end zone section of the stadium was unlike any other seats in the stadium. It was very close to the action, and was an island within a thriving sports amphitheater. The Dawg Pound was born in this stadium, and became a select part of the Cleveland community. The center from Sections 48-52 were just the opposite during a football game because of the close proximity to the field along with outlining Sections 44-47 and 53-56. At an Indians game, the west end zone were the best seats because it was right behind home plate; but during game days at a Browns game, Sections 18-26 had horrible sight lines because of the distance to the actual field to where fans could actually enjoy observing the action on the gridiron. Many fans in these sections actually brought portable televisions in order to view the game. One thing that was not permitted in the Dawg Pound was smoking. But back in those days fans were permitted to bring in a number of items from the outside such as their own soft drinks - or Pepsi bottles full of dark beer and 7-Up two-liters replaced with Gin or Vodka. Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP/Getty Images The habit of throwing projectiles onto the field originated from something that the Browns PR director at the time, Kevin Byrne, once mentioned about the Dawg Pound. He stated that “the east end zone has a decidedly Milk-Bone feel.” That became the catalyst for fans in the Dawg Pound to bring in the pocket-sized dog treats which were perfect for hurling at opposing players, and sometimes at a struggling Browns’ offensive squad. In several games, the officials would make both teams switch ends with a current drive headed towards the west end zone instead of the east end zone because of the amount of debris that was being hurled onto the field. Especially when the Denver Broncos were playing with their star quarterback John Elway or any division foe of Cleveland. Famously, a turkey leg struck Dallas Cowboys tight end Trevor Burbage in the helmet in a 1987 game after he scored a touchdown directly in front of the Dawg Pound. More dawg treats The Dawg Pound is an enormous fixation. The very act of existence annoys whatever NFL club travels to Cleveland to play on their home turf. Everyone in this section is having a good time, but also feels that they have a purpose during each home game to help their precious Browns. Opposing NFL teams, especially the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, despise the Dawg Pound. The participants of the Dawg Pound certainly do not send any love back. Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens And even though the origins of the Dawg Pound focused primarily on the defense and their players, the moniker has basically spread to represent the entire Browns’ football franchise from the players to the coaches to the equipment guys to the front office. The east end zone has been the catalyst and its foundation, but essentially, the Cleveland Browns have morphed into the Dawg Pound. They are now one. The only left to do is cup your mouth with both hands, then bark several times with pride. It’s not only allowed, but encouraged. […]

  • Daily Dawg Chow (7/18/19)
    by Jon Stinchcomb on July 18, 2019 at 10:30 am

    More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Daily Dawg Chow. Cleveland Browns: “Baker Mayfield featured on cover of ESPN the Magazine” ( - “Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is the subject of ESPN the Magazine’s July cover story, written by Mina Kimes and released Wednesday.” “Baker Mayfield blasts Giants fans for lack of support toward Odell Beckham Jr.” (WKYC) - “Mayfield is not one to hide his feelings or shy away from letting be known his opinions, and that includes blasting opposing teams, players, coaches, and now, fans.” “Two potential free-agent targets if the Browns move Duke Johnson” ( - “The Browns are in the midst of preparations for as important a season as recent memory can recall, yet there remains to one roster issue to be decided.” “High expectations make this Browns training camp one to savor, not dread” (WKNR) - “During my 30-plus years chronicling the Browns, the start of training camp mostly always was met with dread because it signaled the end of summer for me.” NFL: “Source: NFL, NFLPA meetings end after one day” (ESPN) - “A three-day negotiation session between the NFL and the players’ union has ended after a single day, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.” “Cardinals release Desmond Harrison in the wake of charges of assault on female” (CBS) - “The Arizona Cardinals signed supplemental draft pick Jalen Thompson on Wednesday, releasing tackle Desmond Harrison in a corresponding roster move.” “Falcons sign Deion Jones to four-year, $57M extension” ( - “With playmaking linebacker Deion Jones entering the final season of his rookie contract for Atlanta, the Falcons made their play and locked him up.” “Free agent Rashard Robinson suspended 10 games” (PFT) - “The Jets cut him May 10. Robinson served a four-game suspension to start the 2018 season after an arrest for possession of edible marijuana.&rdquo […]

  • Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2019: RB Preview, Part 2
    by Chris Pokorny on July 17, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    The rest of the backs on the Browns’ roster. Part 1 of our training camp preview on the running back position is here. The backs featured in Part 2 have a lot to compete for in training camp, though. With Kareem Hunt suspended for half of the season and Duke Johnson’s trade requests, the team will definitely need one of these backs, and possibly two of them, on their 53-man roster. Also, in case you missed it, last week, Barry Shuck also did an extensive preview on all of the Browns’ running backs, which you can find here. 4. Dontrell Hilliard - Backup RB Height: 5-11 | Weight: 202 lbs | Age: 24Experience: 2 years | College: Tulane Dontrell Hilliard is the favorite to be on the Browns’ roster as their No. 3 running back, aided by him playing the second half of last season. Funny enough, he never actually carried the ball, but he did catch 9 passes for 105 yards, so Freddie Kitchens believes in his ability as a receiving back. Last preseason, Hilliard had 30 rushes for 82 yards (2.7 YPC) -- but it’s seldom a good idea to judge poor stats on the preseason, when third-string offensive lines are blocking. Hilliard also had a pass intercepted during the regular season, when he tried throwing it to QB Baker Mayfield. Dan Labbe of wrote a nice feature piece on Hilliard’s determination, and how he received accolades from both head coach Freddie Kitchens and running backs coach Stump Mitchell, and DBN’s Thomas Moore added on to it here. With Duke Johnson skipping all of the offseason programs prior to mandatory minicamp, it gave Hilliard the opportunity to shine, and he took advantage of it. Hilliard is also a candidate to be the Browns’ kick returner; he returned 11 kickoffs last season, averaging 24.0 yards per return while also contributing 3 tackles as a special teams defender. Final Roster Odds: 90% 5. D’Ernest Johnson - AAF RB Height: 5-10 | Weight: 208 lbs | Age: 23Experience: 1 year | College: South Florida D’Ernest Johnson entered the NFL in 2018 as an undrafted free agent, spending some time with the Saints in the offseason. Where he made his mark was earlier this year in the AAF, where he played for the Orlando Apollos and was the running back for QB Garrett Gilbert (who is also on the Browns). Johnson was the AAF’s third-highest rusher with 372 yards and 2 touchdowns. Here is a nice highlight for Johnson from his time in the AAF: D’Ernest Johnson with the truck stick for a big gain to set Orlando up inside the red zone with half a minute remaining in the half. #TakeAimBreak first contact ✅Downfield blocking ✅— Jonathan Valencia (@JonValenciaPFN) March 9, 2019 Back in May, special teams coach Mike Priefer named Johnson as one of the candidates competing for the kick return job too. He was an all-purpose back in college and is another candidate to be a receiving threat out of the backfield; so as much as Hilliard might be the favorite for the backup role, Johnson won’t just let him have it without a fight. Final Roster Odds: 10% 6. Trayone Gray - Rookie RB Height: 6-1 | Weight: 233 lbs | Age: 23Experience: Rookie | College: Miami Trayone Gray is an undrafted free agent out of Miami who the Browns signed after a tryout at rookie minicamp. Gray made some headlines before the draft by posting a pretty fast 40-time for a player of his size, and Gray claims that he’s been clock at a 4.37 before: Trayone Gray discusses his pro day performance and that buzz-worthy 40 time he posted.— Christy Chirinos (@ChristyChirinos) March 25, 2019 Although Gray says he can play running back, the most action he saw in college was as a fullback during his senior season, while also pitching in on special teams. Cleveland often went without a pure fullback last year, with Orson Charles in that role until he got hurt. We are listing Gray with the running backs here, but he figures to be more in competition with Charles for that fullback job, if the team decides to carry one. Final Roster Odds: 5% […]

  • Former Browns OT Desmond Harrison immediately cut by Cardinals after assault strangulation charges
    by Chris Pokorny on July 17, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Yikes! Yikes — it looks like the Cleveland Browns really dodged a bullet in releasing offensive tackle Desmond Harrison this offseason. As first reported by Brent Sobleski on Wednesday, a felony arrest warrant was issued for Harrison, with charges involving “strangulation and assault on a female.” BREAKING: Greensboro (NC) Police Department issued a felony arrest warrant for @AZCardinals offensive tackle Desmond Harrison, per source. Charges involve assault on a person by strangulation and assault on a female by a male.— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) July 17, 2019 A short while later, Albert Breer of the MMQB noted that the Cardinals cut Harrison. Cleveland cut Harrison in early June after he missed his flight for mandatory minicamp, but it was also vaguely noted that it was the final straw in a string of problems with the player. […]

  • Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2019: RB Preview, Part 1
    by Chris Pokorny on July 17, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    The Browns have a surplus of talent at running back. Last season, Carlos Hyde began the season as the Browns’ starting running back and did a respectable job, grinding out 5 touchdown runs and an average of 3.4 yards per carry. During his reign as the team’s starter, though, rookie Nick Chubb blew fans away when he had 3 carries for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Raiders in Week 4. Before long, Hyde was shipped to the Jaguars, and Chubb went on to have an outstanding rookie season. The team’s running back situation got even more complex this offseason. With Chubb entrenched as the starter, the team rolled the dice to sign Kareem Hunt, essentially getting the best running back in the NFL for free (talent-wise). Their other talented back, Duke Johnson, was fumed by reports of the team wanting to trade him, and made his displeasure known. What is the outlook for the position this year? 1. Nick Chubb - Starting RB Height: 5-11 | Weight: 227 lbs | Age: 23Experience: 2 years | College: Georgia Regardless of the fact that the Browns added Hunt, their No. 1 running back this season should unquestionably be Nick Chubb. As a rookie, he carried the ball 192 times for 996 yards (5.2 YPC) and 8 touchdowns. He also impressed with his pass-catching ability, hauling in 20 passes for 149 yards and 2 more touchdowns. Chubb has it all, and was graded by Pro Football Focus as the best-performing running back in the NFL last year. His yards after contact (4.47 yards) ranked 1st in the NFL. Just think for a second about how crazy that statistic is — after first contact, he still averaged more than most running backs in the NFL. His elusiveness was also one of the highest that PFF has seen in the past decade: The big question mark for the regular season will be how the team handles Chubb’s workload for the first eight games of the season — because when Hunt is ready for the second half, the team will heavily lean on both guys. Until then, do you put all your eggs in Chubb’s basket as a workhorse? Or, do you still find ways to utilize Duke Johnson not just as a receiver, but a ballcarrier? Final Roster Odds: 100% Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports 2. Duke Johnson - Receiving RB Height: 5-9 | Weight: 210 lbs | Age: 25Experience: 5 years | College: Miami The Duke Johnson situation will be one of the big stories heading into camp. The questions range from “will he still be with the team?” to “how will he be utilized on offense?” Last year, when Freddie Kitchens, it was the latter question that I kept asking. And while Johnson’s utilization improved a bit under Kitchens, it wasn’t as much as I thought it would be. Instead of complaining about it like I did when Hue Jackson was head coach, I lived with it because Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb were both killing it, and the team was winning. At the end of the day, winning is all that matters. Johnson remains a very productive back. Even though he saw a career-low 40 carries last year, he still averaged 5.0 yards per carry. His receiving numbers were also down, but to no fault of his own. This is still the same back who had a franchise-record 74 receptions in 2017. There may not be as many receptions to go around when you think about the likes of Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and David Njoku, but I refuse to believe that Kitchens doesn’t look at Johnson’s background and think, “I’ve got a handful of plays each game where he can make defenses pay in a major way.” From PFF: Johnson’s career receiving grade (90.9) ranks fifth among the 44 running backs with at least 100 targets dating back to 2015. He also ranks second in forced missed tackles per reception (0.338), seventh in yards per route run (1.73) and fourth in percentage of receptions resulting in a first down or touchdown (44.0%) on the list. Regarding his status with the team, I hope that Tony Grossi is right and that Johnson changing to Drew Rosenhaus can actually help cool trade talks down. Johnson insisted that when it comes time for training camp and playing, he will still give it his all with the club, and I believe that. Also, if the team were going to decide to trade Johnson, a better time to do it would be at the half-way point of the season — right before the trade deadline, and right before Kareem Hunt is eligible to play. At that point, it wouldn’t be about trading a disgruntled player, but rather getting compensation for a player when you have an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Final Roster Odds: 95% Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports 3. Kareem Hunt - Suspended RB Height: 5-11 | Weight: 216 lbs | Age: 23Experience: 3 years | College: Toledo Kareem Hunt will serve an 8-game suspension to begin the regular season, but will be allowed to participate in training camp and the preseason. Hunt will be eligible to debut in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills. A rookie in 2017, Hunt exploded right off the bat for the Kansas City Chiefs, rushing for 1,327 yards (4.9 YPC) and catching 53 passes for 455 yards. Last year, he was well on his way to matching those numbers before word of his incident broke out, causing the Chiefs to immediately release him. Here is an example of the type of excitement Hunt can bring: Kareem Hunt just DOESN'T QUIT!(Via @NFL)— PFF (@PFF) October 22, 2018 Hunt knows he’s on a short leash with respect to any personal issues that may arise. He will also face the challenge of needing to stay in shape and acclimated with the Browns’ offensive playbook while missing over two months of the season. I’m curious how the Browns’ coaching staff will utilize him during training camp. On one hand, I would say that they should over-prepare him to try to get him as much familiarity with the system as possible, before he’s idle. On the other hand, maybe those reps would be better suited for a guy like Dontrell Hilliard, who might be needed (if an injury happens) in those first eight games. Working both Chubb and Hunt into the game come November will be something Kitchens has to work out, but that should be the definition of a good problem as opposed to a bad one. Final Roster Odds: 100% In Part 2 of our running back preview, we’ll look at the other backs on the roster. […]


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