Browns Connections: Conference Championships

Posted Jan 16, 2013

Several players and coaches competing in this weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship games have connections to Cleveland and the Browns organization.

With the AFC and NFC Championship games of the NFL playoffs set for Sunday, several players and coaches on the participating teams have a connection to Cleveland and the state of Ohio. takes a look at those connections.

San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons, 3:00pm ET Sunday on FOX

San Francisco/49ers

Browns senior advisor Gil Haskell was a high school coach in the San Francisco area before working his way through the college and professional ranks.

Browns defensive backs coach Tim Hauck played for the 49ers in 2002.

Offensive assistant Chris Beake was an assistant coach with the 49ers from 1999-2003, and again in 2010. During his time in San Francisco, Beake was a quality control/defense coach (1999), defensive assistant (2000-02) and offensive assistant (2003, 2010).

Defensive line coach Dwaine Board was San Francisco’s assistant defensive line coach from 1990-93 and the defensive line coach from 1994-2002. Before coaching with the 49ers, Board played with the team from 1979-88. He was part of two Super Bowl teams and won Super Bowl XIX Defensive Player of the Game honors in the 49ers’ 38-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Linebackers coach Bill Davis was the 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 2005-06.

Offensive line coach George Warhop served in the same capacity with the 49ers from 2005-08.

The Browns’ senior assistant to the defense, Ray Rhodes, served as San Francisco’s assistant secondary coach (1981-82), defensive backs coach (1983-91) and defensive coordinator (1994).

Wide receivers coach Mike Wilson spent 10 seasons with the 49ers (1981-90) and was part of four Super Bowl championships and division titles. Wilson, along with Pittsburgh’s Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, are the only wide receivers in NFL history to win four Super Bowl championships.

The Browns have several California natives on their roster, including: tight end Jordan Cameron (Newbury Park), offensive linemen Alex Mack (Santa Barbara), Oniel Cousins (Fullerton) and Mitchell Schwartz (Pacific Palisades), defensive back T.J. Ward (San Francisco), linebackers Chris Gocong (Santa Barbara), Scott Fujita (Ventura) and James-Michael Johnson (Fairchild), defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (Tustin), and long-snapper Christian Yount (Coto de Caza).

Browns fullback Owen Marecic, tight end Alex Smith and cornerback Johnson Bademosi went to Stanford University. Mack, Fujita and Schwartz went to the University of California-Berkeley.

Brad Seely, San Francisco’s special teams coordinator/assistant head coach, held the same position with the Browns from 2009-10.

Kicker Billy Cundiff played for the Browns during the 2009 season.

Offensive lineman Alex Boone (Lakewood/St. Edward/Ohio State), wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. (Cleveland/Glenville/Ohio State) and Mario Manningham (Warren/Harding) and safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland/Glenville/Ohio State) are Ohio natives.

Linebacker Larry Grant spent two years at Ohio State.


Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie was the Browns’ offensive coordinator and interim head coach during the 2004 season and spent 2001-03 and 2005-06 as the team’s wide receivers coach.

Thomas Dimitroff, general manager of the Falcons, spent 1998-2001 as a college scout for the Browns.

Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Benjamin Watson attended The University of Georgia.

Browns defensive back Buster Skrine is a native of Woodstock, Ga.

Browns assistant athletic trainer Andre Tucker was with the Falcons in the same capacity from 2008-09.

Falcons offensive lineman Phillipkeith Manley (Hamilton High School/University of Toledo) is an Ohio native.

Falcons quarterback Luke McCown started his NFL career with the Browns in 2004. He made four starts and completed 48 of 98 attempts for 608 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Atlanta defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi is Mohamed Massaquoi’s cousin.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots, 6:30pm ET Sunday on CBS


Cousins was a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2008 and played three seasons in Baltimore from 2008-10. Defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen was an undrafted free-agent signee of the Ravens after the 2012 NFL Draft.

Wide receiver Joshua Cribbs (Washington, D.C./Dunbar High School), defensive backs Joe Haden (Fort Washington/Friendly) Bademosi (Silver Springs/Gonzaga) and Usama Young (Largo), and defensive lineman Phil Taylor (Clinton/Gwynn Park) are Maryland/Washington, D.C. natives.

Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson played football at the University of Maryland.

Cleveland’s assistant strength and conditioning coach, Rick Lyle, was a defensive lineman for the Ravens during the 1996 season.

Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome was selected by the Browns with the No. 23 overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft and became a Hall of Fame inductee after playing with the team from 1978-90. Newsome still holds seven franchise records (most catches in a career, season and game, most consecutive games with a catch, yards in a career and game and most seasons with 50 or more receptions).

Newsome got his start in the front office with the Browns’ pro personnel department from 1991-95.

Baltimore’s assistant head coach/special teams coordinator, Jerry Rosburg, coached the Browns’ special teams from 2001-06 and his special teams units ranked in the top 10 in several categories during that time.

Defensive line coach Clarence Brooks served in the same capacity with the Browns in 1999.

Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was Cribbs’ head coach at Kent State and guided him to 13 school records. Under Pees’ direction, Cribbs became only the second player in NCAA history to rush for and also throw for more than 1,000 yards in a single season.

Chris Hewitt, Baltimore’s assistant special teams coach, served as an intern with the Browns in 2001 through the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship Program.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (Perrysburg/Miami of Ohio), inside linebackers coach Don Martindale (Dayton/Defiance College) and Pees (Dunkirk/Bowling Green State University) are Ohio natives.

Patriots/New England

Patriots coach Bill Belichick compiled a 36-44 record as head coach of the Browns from 1991 to 1995. He took the Browns to the playoffs in 1994, just four seasons removed from a 3-13 finish under Bud Carson and Jim Shofner.

Patriots linebackers coach Thomas “Pepper” Johnson played with the Browns from 1993 to 1995, amassing 5.5 quarterback sacks and two interceptions during his time in Cleveland.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels grew up in Barberton, Ohio, and played football at Canton McKinley High School before starring at John Carroll University.

Patriots assistant Brian Daboll served as the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2009-10.

Watson (2004-09), kicker Phil Dawson (practice squad in 1998), punter Reggie Hodges (practice squad in 2008), defensive back Ray Ventrone (2006-08), and Alex Smith (2009 offseason) all played for the Patriots.

Punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg), wide receiver Jeremy Ebert (Hilliard), defensive back Nate Ebner (Dublin/Ohio State) and tight end Jake Ballard (Springboro/Ohio State) are from Ohio.

Wide receiver Julian Edelman, much like Cribbs, played quarterback for Kent State.

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