But, to him, nothing felt quite like the atmosphere in the Browns’ locker room this season.
At the end of the 2012 season, the Browns had 29 players on their roster that had less than three years of NFL experience. However, Weeden saw that youth as a positive for the Browns.
“We’ve got a lot of first and second-year guys, but even the veteran leadership that’s taken everybody under their wings, this is a close-knit group,” Weeden said. “I’ve been on a lot of teams where we’re nowhere near this close. Guys are friends on and off the field. Guys come to work for each other. It’s a great vibe in this locker room. I think that goes to the quality of people we have here.”
While having a roster full of young players presented its own challenges, the veterans led the team through potentially distracting situations.
Early in training camp, the sale of the team from Randy Lerner to Jimmy Haslam was announced. With the Browns preparing for a road game against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 21, the sale was approved at the NFL’s Fall Owners’ Meetings in Chicago on Oct. 18.
Once the sale was unanimously approved by the other NFL owners, Haslam watched as his team won four of its next seven games, including one-score victories over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-14, on Nov. 25, and the Oakland Raiders, 20-17, on Dec. 2.
“This team was pretty resilient all year and never thought about it,” Weeden said. “When it came to Sunday, guys were dialed in to go play football. That’s what we’re paid to do and that’s our job. All of the off-the-field stuff, all of the stuff circling us was there, but it wasn’t a focus in this locker room. That’s a testament to the character and the guys we have in this room that, moving forward, will benefit us going down the road.”