CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Browns boast one of the National Football League’s most passionate fanbases, with followers around the country and the world. Fans have watched the Browns win titles as well as regularly be at the bottom of the NFL standings in recent years.
In the spring, we asked you to tell us “Why I’m a Browns Fan.” More than 600 responded. Today, we’ll share another one of your stories as the NFL season heads into Week 10.
The authors of these essays have one thing in common: Their love for the Browns. By the time we’re through, we plan to tell all your stories.
Today’s fan is Dale Williams, who lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife Yetta. Williams and his wife have six children and 13 grandchildren.
Who is he?
Williams, 66, is retired, and he most recently worked as a security guard in Syracuse for 26 years with utility company National Grid.
While living in Northeast Ohio, Williams went to school in Twinsburg until reaching sixth grade. His family moved to Akron, where he attended junior high and most of his high school years, transferring to East High School for his senior year.
During 1979, Williams and his wife moved to Syracuse from Arizona. Williams served in the Air Force, spending two years in Germany. Prior to the Air Force, he had also lived for a while in Mississippi.
Pretending to be Browns in touch football, and meeting Marion Motley
When Williams lived in Twinsburg, he played touch football on dirt roads with his brother and some of his brother’s friends. Williams’ older brother would tell Williams which Browns player he had to imitate. But Williams didn’t get to be his favorite Brown.
“I actually wanted to be Paul Warfield,” he said, “but I was too young to do anything but take whatever I was given.”
Williams was introduced to the Browns as he learned to play the game, and started paying more attention once Leroy Kelly started playing for Cleveland in 1964. Kelly, a Hall of Fame fullback, was Jim Brown’s successor in the backfield. Brown’s last NFL season was in 1965. Kelly was a six-time Pro Bowler and made first team All-Pro three times.
Williams thought highly of Kelly, who he considered a “downright stud.”
“He ran a little on the flat-footed side, and he was so shifty and so able to keep his balance, even on the often slippery, icy turf that they played on in the stadium,” Williams said.
With Williams being a long-time supporter, he is appreciative of some of the fan experiences he’s had. During his youth, he and his cousins would go to old Municipal Stadium and sit in the bleachers, the original Dawg Pound. They’d set fire to popcorn boxes and hot chocolate cups to keep warm on chilly days.
Williams also got to meet Hall of Fame fullback Marion Motley once when he was driving his cousin to a party Motley’s daughter was having.
“He was so big,” Williams said. “I shook hands with him, and his hand completely engulfed my hand.”
Along with meeting Motley, Williams got to see more Browns up close because of the youth program Upward Bound, which was at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. It gave him a chance to envision a life where he could do positive work and be on a solid path. While in the program, he went on a field trip to Hiram College, where the Browns’ practice facility was located.
“I just was amazed at how big the linemen were back then,” Williams said. “Because I was like in the seventh grade, going into eighth grade. And big, big men back then. I mean huge. NFL players, they’re probably bigger now.
“I really enjoyed seeing actually that environment, what NFL players look like up front and close and personal. That really made my Browns devotion even more.”