When Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner offered Rob Chudzinski the head-coaching position, the native of Toledo, Ohio, seized the opportunity to coach his hometown team.
The Browns contacted Chudzinski on Tuesday, flew him to Cleveland for an interview Wednesday, and by Thursday, he was offered an “opportunity he wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world.”
“It is a dream come true,” Chudzinski said. “It’s almost unbelievable in a lot of ways that this kid from Toledo, Ohio, growing up as a Browns fan and loving the Browns, and understanding how important this team is to this region, this area and this city, it’s a dream come true. I’ve been on Cloud Nine. I think I slept about an hour last night.
“For me, personally, it’s the best job. There’s been other head coaching jobs that I’ve seen or potentially had opportunities for, but this is the one that’s special to me. I can’t say enough about how excited I am to be here and the emotions are running wild. I can’t wait to get started. To bring back the pride, the passion, the success that this franchise has had in the past, I want to be part of that.”
Chudzinski grew up in Toledo, before his parents moved to Bowling Green and later, Fremont. As a child, Chudzinski and his cousins used to pretend they were at Cleveland Municipal Stadium cheering for the Browns.
“My cousins and I were very close,” Chudzinski recalled. “We wanted to be in that stadium, in that Dawg Pound so bad that we would watch games in December out in the snow. We’d flip the TV around in the window so we could be there. That was us being there, being in the stands and being a part of that. I have to admit I’ve eaten a dog biscuit or two in my day.
“My cousin actually bought a school bus a few years back and converted it into one of those Browns mobiles that you guys see out there. They’ll be loading that bus up, I’m sure.”
While growing up in Toledo, Chudzinski starred at St. John’s Jesuit High School before playing tight end at the University of Miami from 1986-90, where he was a three-year starter and two-time National Champion (1987 and 1989).
Chudzinski said he has learned from each stop on his football journey, both as a player and coach, but credits the lessons of former St. John’s coach, the late Fred Beier, with having the greatest impact on his career.“I was the interim coordinator when Terry Robiskie took over,” Chudzinski said. “(Coach Beier) was in the hospital at the time, but he had a chance to watch the game. He critiqued me after the game. Fred was a huge, huge factor in my life. You talk about discipline, you talk about toughness, you talk about the things, work ethic, that we need as part of a football team, and Fred was instrumental in stressing those things and teaching those things to all of us.”