Browns' magic man relishes chance to guide new-look offensive line

Bob Wylie uses the same phrase when he's discussing his lengthy coaching career and his hobby as a part-time magician.

"It got out of hand," Wylie said.

The longtime veteran coach just wouldn't have it any other way.

Over the course of 25 years, Wylie went from a guy who passed the time on long, boring road trips with a couple of simple magic tricks to a connoisseur of sorts, owning more than 150 books and DVDs and claiming multiple, on-stage appearances with David Copperfield. And over the course of 47 years, Wylie went from a part-time Pop Warner coach to one of the Browns coaching staff's eldest statesmen, logging 16 years in the NFL, six in the Canadian Football League and 13 at the collegiate level.

Wylie's 17th year in the NFL brings the kind of smile to his face that looks a lot like the one sported by those who watch his medley of magic tricks.

"I like the challenge," Wylie said. "The program is where it is. Now you have a challenge as a coach, especially with the line and what I saw on film from last year, to take that and make those five guys play at one heartbeat and get from 1-15 and get to the playoffs.

"This is my actually 47th year of coaching, so the challenge to do it is really great. It is a passion that you have in your heart to do the sport."

Cleveland's offensive line got a jolt of experience and talent after one of its toughest seasons in recent memory. Center JC Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler were added in free agency, a handful of others were added to provide depth at center and left guard Joel Bitonio signed a lengthy contract extension. With 10-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas locked in at left tackle, the Browns' only area of uncertainty is at right tackle, where Shon Coleman and Cameron Erving are competing.

Wylie was just a couple of months into his new job when the Browns made their multiple moves in free agency. He couldn't have been happier.

"You try to solidify the edges of the defense. You don't want them to get pushed from the inside. The center has to control everything," Wylie said. "Getting those two guys to solidify the inside and not get the push, and signing Joel Bitonio back, I thought was a really smart move."

Take a look at the Cleveland Browns roster as of September 1, 2017.

Wylie will get his first, on-field glance of this group at training camp. During OTAs and minicamp, he used a handful of second-team players to fill first-team spots, as Thomas was sidelined for the entirety of the offseason program, Bitonio -- who missed most of last season with a foot injury -- only worked through individual drills during minicamp and Tretter missed the final part of minicamp with a minor injury.

Wylie isn't worried about the unit getting that "one heartbeat" because it's already coming together behind the scenes.

"They may not be side by side out there walking through it but they're in the meetings learning it," Wylie said. "It's not going to take them long to get into the form. they're good professionals and they know how to act as good professionals."

When it comes to magic, Wylie doesn't consider himself a professional but he brings a little more to the table than your everyday amateur.

Inspired by Sam Wyche during their time together in Cincinnati during the 1980s, Wylie learned a couple of simple magic tricks he could show to children in hospitals during various visits. His passion blossomed from that point forward, and the time he spent on stage with Copperfield left him truly star-struck.

In football and magic, nothing but good has come from Wylie letting things get out of hand.

"You work in front of 85-100,000 people, you don't think anything of it," Wylie said. "I got on stage with David Copperfield I was like a little kid."

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