CLEVELAND -- Creating a surprise in an NFL locker room usually involves a trick play or unique strategy designed to catch an opponent off-guard and make a big gain on offense.
However, the Cleveland Browns put a different twist on creating a surprise play when they presented 100 kids from all 20 of the City of Cleveland’s recreation centers with new toys at the team’s annual Toy Extravaganza. The children had a pizza party in the home team locker room and defensive lineman
“It’s just another chance to get out in the community and do something special for someone else,” Rucker said. “For the majority of people and especially, the inner-city kids here, they don’t have much. To do this and be able to spend this kind of time and be able to put smiles on these kids’ faces is priceless.
“I’ve learned that since I’ve been in the NFL, I’d rather give than receive. You’re in a position to help others. It could be your time, a gift, a hug, anything, and it can go a long ways with someone. I’m just glad I could be here and contribute to this special event.”
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson also supported the event by making a significant donation to purchase the toys.
“I don’t have kids of my own, so it’s always fun when we have an opportunity to help with a kid’s Christmas or help give back a little bit,” Weeden said. “I’ve always enjoyed doing that. This was an opportunity to come out and see the kids being affected by getting a gift before Christmas. It’s fun interacting with these kids. To see all the kids smiling and lighten their spirits was good.
“We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we’re in. If we can help, it’s our duty to do that. It’s what the holidays are all about, especially for the little ones.”
In addition to the ear-to-ear smiles, children walked away from the event with the new toys, including Xbox 360s, televisions and drum kits, as well as autographs from and photographs with the players.
Each holiday season, the Browns partner with the City of Cleveland for the Toy Extravaganza.
“This is an amazing event,” said Renee Harvey, vice president of community outreach for the Browns. “We have a strong relationship with the City of Cleveland’s Park and Recreation. It’s such an honor working with them. They have an amazing staff that does a great job selecting the right kids and you can tell how much the staff enjoys working with kids. We’re making sure the efforts and impact we have benefit the right kids. Not only with this event, but with the field refurbishment projects and the many things we do throughout the year, it’s wonderful to have that relationship and to do what we can for the city.”
The event was funded by Browns players in association with Russell Athletic.