Work in Sports
At the Draft
Small Dawg Pound cheers first pick
Posted: Saturday April 15, 2000 07:37 PM
By David Harsanyi, CNNSI.com
NEW YORK -- If rowdy fans here at Madison Square Garden were anticipating any surprises at the top of year's NFL draft, they were disappointed, as the Cleveland Browns did the expected -- selecting Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown.
Brown became the first defensive end selected No. 1 overall since Bruce Smith was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the 1985 draft. Brown, who holds the Penn State record with 33 sacks and 70 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, will immediately help a Cleveland defense that ranked last in sacks a season ago.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster," Brown said. "Telephone calls, the anticipation, waiting around, rumors, just watching everything on TV. It feels good to have it all said and done. You've got to take the next step."
Cleveland quarterback and first-pick in 1999 draft Tim Couch joined Brown at the podium -- a pairing that Browns' fans here seem to think is the foundation of a future championship.
"I think we made a great pick," the Cleveland quarterback said. "To be a championship team, you need playmakers on both sides of the ball and we can do that with Courtney."
While there were rumors that Cleveland might take LaVar Arrington with the first pick, the Browns had already agreed to a six-year contact with the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
"You know," Brown explained. "I just wanted to get all that out of the way so I could get ready to play some football."
That's exactly what Cleveland wants to hear.
"He is the other cornerstone," Browns owner Al Lerner said. "Tim is the cornerstone for the offense, and Courtney is for the defense. Hopefully, we can fill in the pieces."
After going 2-14 last season, Cleveland has tried to upgrade their defense with an aggressive off-season -- signing defensive ends and Keith McKenzie and Orpheus Roye.
A small-scale version of the Dawg Pound gave Brown a little taste of how important football is to Cleveland, cheering wildly for the first-overall pick.
"I know the fans are very excited and enthusiastic," Brown said. "I visited the city a couple of times. It's a great place to be. I think I can fit in very well."