Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen cares about growing the game of football, and spent two days earlier this week hosting a “Big-Man Camp” at Brunswick High School in an effort to help local offensive and defensive linemen.
Cullen hosted 67 players at the instructional, non-contact camp free of charge.
“We coached them just like we coach the guys here,” Cullen said. “We coached hard and we tried to teach them skills about how to become a better pass-rusher, a better defensive lineman, a better offensive lineman. Then, we try to give a message.”
To deliver those messages, Cullen enlisted the help of several other Browns coaches, including outside linebackers coach Brian Baker, and offensive line coach Mike Sullivan, as well as many of the team’s rookies.
“Coach Baker gave a great message about not only competing on the field, but doing the right thing off the field,” Cullen recalled. “I had Brian speak on some of his experiences and the players he’s dealt with, about being good people, about doing the right thing in the classroom.
“The players all spoke about how they got to where they are today, through the hard work in the classroom that enabled them to get to the school they wanted to go to, working hard at the school not only off the field, but on the field and have an opportunity to be where they are today.”
“It was my first year playing defensive end and one of my coaches signed me up for it,” Staples said. “It was a great thing to look at it from the other side. I remember when I was in high school and I was looking up to the Browns players and NFL players in general. I just know the importance that those kids have when they’re looking at me like, ‘Okay, this is a local guy and he made it.’
“It’s a feeling that’s second to none just to know that your every move is watched in a positive way. Being from Cleveland, knowing the importance that the city has for the Cleveland Browns, I just know the impact that I’m able to have with these kids and the community in general.”
At the end of the camp, each player was given a rock with the year of the camp and a quote, “Keep pounding the rock” inscribed on it.
“(That’s) learning how to fight through adversity when things go wrong,” Cullen said of the quote. “The game of football teaches you a lot of great things that a lot of people don’t realize until they get older in age that, ‘The things I went through on the football field got me through this tough time off the field. The things I went through on the football field enabled me to get where I wanted to be in the business world.’
“At some point, they may make a bad choice, and 90 percent of life is how you react to it. Ten percent is what happened, the other 90 percent is how you react to it. Are you just going to quit and cower down, or are you going to brush yourself off, move forward, go full steam ahead and try to learn from the mistakes and become a better person?”