Last Friday, after a long hot week of soccer camp, we surprised the boys with a trip to Cleveland, Ohio. We got on the thruway heading west and making them guess where we were going. They guessed Seabreeze, Darien Lake, Niagara Falls, and then all of the sudden Andy blurts out "CLEVELAND" and neither of them believed it when we told them yes, we were making the 5+ hour drive!!! They were so excited to hear that they were going to Cleveland Browns Stadium for Family Day!!
|This is what 5, 7 hour days of soccer looks like|
We got a bit of a late start and then had issues at the exit we took for dinner so we didn't make it all the way into Cleveland but I picked up one of those books at the Welcome Center and we had a really nice hotel for $69. Watched the Cleveland news and it was awesome to see footage about our Brownies, instead of the Bills, Jets, or Giants - it gets old hearing about them all the time!! We got to sleep so we could get up bright and early and hit some stores to see what we could find for Christmas presents and a few souvenirs of our own.
|My little Dawg!!|
I was smart and printed coupons for all the major stores before we left home, Kohl's, Penney's, Joann's, and a few others. We went to Kohl's first and I got some AMAZING deals but I have to keep them a secret since they are for Christmas :) We found a K-Mart but weren't impressed and then we found a Walmart - got some more Christmas presents and some shirts for ourselves. Austin and I got these bright orange shirts with Josh Cribbs on them - Aussie is wearing his in the stadium photos. After Walmart we grabbed some lunch and headed to the stadium!!
|My other little dawg|
I always get goosebumps and get teary eyed when the stadium comes into view - that is probably dumb to some but Cleveland is a very special place to me and I don't get there anywhere near as often as I'd like to. My dad went to the first game the Browns ever played in 1946 - cost him a quarter to get in!! One of his very good friends, Gene Cook, was the last one cut one year. He has stuck with them through thick and thin, never once waivered on them - doesn't matter if they are down by 20 points, he watches til the end. I remember when I was a little girl, Brian Sipe was the cutest quarterback ever and then Brian Brennan came along and I was in love!! For my senior year summer vacation, my dad told me I could pick where we went - I chose training camp in Cleveland! Another good friend of his was still out there and he got us tickets to the Indians game while we were there - they played in the same stadium at that time so I was able to visit the stadium for the first time. We went back out in October for the Eagles game - got to see them win but Webster Slaughter broke his leg :( After the game though, I got to meet my beloved #86 and Ozzie Newsome!! Other than my mother telling Brian Brennan that I was in love with him, it was a great moment lol!!
|I WANT this car!!|
I also have a family full of Browns fans- my cousin used to have season tickets and would make the 7 hour trip from his house for every home game! He always arranged a trip and I was fortunate enough to go out for 3 of those trips! Johnny passed away almost two years ago and driving up to that stadium choked me up even more so because of him and his dad, who has also passed away - those trips were some of the greatest getaways ever and I wished that they could both be there with us.
|Another Backer car- AMAZING!!|
We parked the car and walked up to see the Browns Backers that had cars on display - so cool!! One of the best was the bus with the bathroom inside containing a toilet with a Bengals sticker and a urnal made out of a Steelers helmet!!! All of the owners were super cool and friendly. The boys were given football cards, cool little stickers for under their eyes with the Dawg on them (andy didn't think they were so cool when it was time to take them off), footballs, schedules, and I don't know what else!!
|Best Bathroom ever LOL|
After checking out the vehicles, we headed over to the Family Day activity area. THere was so much going on!! Both boys got into the Browns statue for a photo, they spun the wheel and had to do crazy things to win a prize - each choosing sunglasses bc theirs were kind of small and it was super hot and sunny!! Andy took a turn through the blow up obstacle course, got some football beads, pens, and other goodies, debated waiting in the very long line for an airbrushed tattoo but decided against it, and the best part was getting to see Chomps the Dawg!!
|The boys with Chomps!!|
We wanted to get into the shade for a bit so we took a walk along the stadium and I took photos of the past Browns who had plaques on the wall. I didn't ever get the pleasure of seeing many of them play but my dad talks about them often and he recalls so much, wished he could have come with us. Made a note to try and convince him to go out for a game. The boys would cherish that memory forever!!
|One of Beloved Browns and ORANGMEN!!|
|This was for Uncle John - his favorite Brown ever!!|
Finally it was time to go inside the stadium!! It was my first time actually inside the new stadium and it is a beautiful place!! It reminds me a lot of the Carrier Dome except it's outside lol! We went in the Team Shop and looked around - so many fun things to try on!!
|I have to get Aussie one of those paws for his birthday or Christmas - he can't stop talking about them!!|
|One of the cutest Dawgs I've ever seen!!|
Then we went and found seats on the 50 yard line, 5th row!! It was so hot that the boys kept asking to go to the bathroom to put water on their faces. I took them once and looked at Andrew's neck - it looked like it was bleeding!! I was wiping it with the cloth and Austin asked me to check out his neck - the orange football beads were bleeding off onto their skin because of the heat!! Finally the players started to come out on the field. The new punter came out but then Joe Haden came out - so exciting!!!
|Our quarterbacks!!! We are rooting for ya Colt!!!|
They announced the players by position, which isn't as exciting as hearing each of their names individually but seeing Colt McCoy, Peyton Hillis, Josh Cribbs, Evan Moore, Joe Thomas, Joe Haden, and I could go on and on!! One of the funniest moments was when a trainer was stretching out Josh Cribbs' legs - Andrew kept groaning every time he pushed his leg back a little farther - he could not understand how Josh could stand that lol!! It was kind of hard to watch them play because you didn't really have a team to root for - are you rooting for or against the offense?? All in all though, it was so much fun to watch them so close. The boys just wanted to meet them!! I screwed up and left our seats to get in a line. We didn't realize that they come up to the wall, which we were right next to. Someone in the store told us to wait out by the parking lot and they would come out down there and we could get autographs then but that wasn't true either. Austin was in tears. He loves his football team and wanted in the worst way to meet some of them and thanks to me, he didn't even get one autograph :( Hopefully we can go back soon and try again.
|Andy thought it was super cool that Josh Cribbs was doing the same stretches he did at camp!!|
His disappointments didn't stop there - we went and got dinner and then started looking for a hotel. Every single place we went was booked - we had plans to go shopping more the next day and check out the Cleveland Zoo - we heard they have Koalas!! We ended up being in Buffalo before we found a room and the girl at the desk took total advantage of us and overcharged us by $80 on the room - so I have to fight that battle now (I checked their website for rates after I realized what she charged us - it was 2:30 in the morning before we even got there but that is a whole different story!!). I got some decent pictures of some of the players so we are going to enlarge them and hang them in his room, hopefully that will make up for the lack of autographs. I gave him my Frank Minnifield and will give him my Ozzie Newsome and Brian Brennan but they aren't the same to him as Massaquoi or Cribbs or any of the others but they are pretty cool to me :)
|Can't wait to see him break one open!!|
To all who might read this - I hope God Blesses your day!!!
|Joe Haden seems to have a great personality :)|
|My little Brownie|
|I have to recreate this on their bedroom wall now!!|
|Go Josh Go!!!|