When describing his style of coaching and what he expects out of his players, Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton said only one word: pressure.
When it comes to describing the fans with whom he has interacted since joining the Browns in January, Horton was equally succinct. He said the first thing he noticed about Browns fans was their passion.
“That’s probably been the best surprise for me, the fans,” Horton said. “I met fans at the airport and they said, ‘I’m a season-ticket holder.’ I always ask, ‘Where do you sit?’ Guys are in row three of section 107, which is on the visitor’s side, the Dawg Pound, row seven. It’s really nice to see the fans be excited in January and February about football that’s going on here in Cleveland.”
In his 29 years in the NFL, 19 as a coach and 10 as a player, Horton has honed his crafts in front of some of the most passionate fans in the league. He played in Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, and coached in Washington, Cincinnati, Detroit, Arizona and Pittsburgh.
Although he has been in Cleveland for a short amount of time, Horton puts Browns fans at the top of his list when it comes to their passion for football.
“I think it’s more so here,” Horton said of the comparison between cities. “In January and February, the fans are in the airport. The fans are at a Brown Derby restaurant where the owner walked up the very first day I got here and said, ‘Welcome to Cleveland, Coach.’ I'm thinking, ‘How do you know who I am? I just got here today.’ The fans are fantastic. They’re craving a winner. They’ve had a winner in the past and they’re loyal fans that want us to win. I think we’ll get that message to the players of what Cleveland’s all about.”
The passion Horton sees in the fans is not unlike the one he has for coaching. Horton’s drive to “work, work, work, work, work, work, work,” was enhanced during the offseason, when the Browns added three defensive players in the first two days of free agency -- linebackers
“When the front office produces like they did for us, all that work, it paid off,” Horton said. “They’re dedicated to winning, and that’s the thing I like. Our organization is dedicated to winning and they want to put a winner on the field.”