- WR Andrew Hawkins (full transcript)
- QB Josh McCown (full transcript)
- WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.
WR Andrew Hawkins:
On his trip to Washington D.C.:
"Yeah, we had the opportunity to go out there and meet with Congressmen and [Congress]women and some staff in the White House about community relations and police in community relations. It was a very productive trip. Voiced some concerns and kind of hear what they are doing from a law-making standpoint and how they are handling the issue in Washington. Like I said, we come from this community, and it is kind of our way to take it to the next step in this situation because it is something that affects the entire country. It is something that is important to me and the other guys that were down there. It was very productive."
On how opportunity arose:
"(Lions WR) Anquan Boldin kind of handpicked the guys that he wanted to go down. They reached out to me weeks and weeks ago, and it was something that we set up. I am glad to be a part of it."
On two of the players attending being Browns as QB Josh McCown also attended:
"No question, I think it is no secret how I feel about Josh and what kind of guy he is, the kind of character he has. Anyone who is around him, including (Lions WR) Anquan (Boldin), who played with Josh, feels the same way. That was special for us to be down there together."
On how much of his personal experience with the topic he shared during the meetings:
"I am going to keep to context of the meetings private. At the same time, they voiced their concerns and it was very open dialogue. Like I said, I feel like we made a lot of headway. We have commitment to keep working the issue, and we will be back after the season. Right now, working on some deliverables and hopefully will continue to push the issue."
On if the meeting with the Congress representatives is even more important now that the presidential election is complete:
"It is important because it is an issue. It is not a new issue by any stretch of the imagination for decades and decades. The difference is we have the opportunity to affect it. I feel like [we do]. Hell, maybe we don't, but who are we if we don't take advantage of our influence and try. I feel the platform we are giving is a special one. I feel like a lot of guys feel that way. We are just trying to use it to the best of our ability."
On athletes also go into communities where there is homicidal crime within inner-city communities to encourage them to change their behaviors:
"I feel like that is a different subject in itself. It would be like me saying, do I go to the suburbs where they kill each other, as well, and say, 'You guys need to change your behavior,' or it would be like saying fighting against terrorism, which we all hate, to say that Americans need to stop killing each other before we worry about terrorism, which would not make a lot of sense. I don't think they are that related. At the same time, we do work in the community. Obviously, anyone who knows me here in Cleveland, I work in the community here every year as much as I can, even in Cincinnati where I consider my second home and back in my hometown. That is important. I don't care where you are from. Working in your community is an important part. That is something that I have done for a long time. I think the guys that were there have done it for a long time. A lot of guys in this locker room have done it for a long time. It is something that we will continue to do, but what we are focused on is community and police relations when we went to Washington so that was the focus and that was the issue at hand."
On the most encouraging thing heard during the visit:
"The most encouraging thing [heard], I don't think it was anything specific. It was the willingness of all the Congressmen to hear us out, be open with us and really just be open and committed to changing things for the better. Republican and Democrat, we met with everybody and it was open. It was great dialogue. I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to meet with them and be able to hopefully create some change."
On if he expected the representatives to be as open as they were with the players:
"You never know. I am not a Congressman, and it was my first meeting with them. I was encouraged by how receptive they were. I can't say I knew that, but I am encouraged now. Me and Josh have been talking about it all day how productive the day was as a whole and excited for the future."
On if teammates have asked about the trip:
"Yeah, some guys have been asking me about the trip for sure."
On the next step in the process:
"Continuing to do it. Working on the community level like you said, and I have had conversations with (Cleveland Police) Chief (Calvin) Williams here in Cleveland and just trying to understand. That was the main focus of the trip yesterday was information. For them to inform us and for us to inform them what we thought. I have had conversations with the Police Chief here in Cleveland for the same reason. I feel like there is an openness everywhere. It is just a matter of connecting the dots. So many times you get caught up in thinking you are either on this side or that side, and I am right and you are wrong. That is not productive, that is not progressive and is honestly not the reality. If everybody is loving the game of football can bring people together or hear people out or make a Republican and Democrat sit down and have a conversation or have police and community do an event, then that is our responsibility and that is what we need to do."
On if he was nervous to speak to the representatives:
"No, I was not nervous. Nerves third-and-6 in the fourth quarter in front of 75,000 people. That is where nerves kick in. This was light work (laughter)."
On if communication was one of the main points of emphasis and common ground during the conversations in Washington:
"Yeah, no question, and I think that is the root of any problem. Communication is the only way to solve anything. That was the main focus of this entire thing. It wasn't anything more than that. The next steps will come, and who knows? Maybe the communication is not going to be as great throughout the entire process but that is fine. This is a start and this is a change, a focus on change. It is a very important step in the process."
On how meaningful this visit was for him, especially considering that he is a father:
"It is everything, man. That is probably the main reason why I am so passionate about things. When you are young and you are by yourself, it is like, 'OK, it is just me.' When you have to worry about the future of your children, which I feel like is the root of all Americans and that is the American Dream is to leave things better for your children than when you had them, that is the responsibility I have as a father. My grandfather, honestly, he was fighting for a lot of the same things. He was a Republican who was a part of and he would speak at two Republican National Conventions, and I have pictures hanging in my house of him with President Carter, President Reagan, President Bush. I feel like a lot of that was instilled in me. To be able to grow up seeing that, it let me know that it does not matter where I am from or how miniscule people think I am to the equation, I have the power to make a difference even a little bit or encourage somebody else who might have more of a power to make a difference."
On his grandfather's name:
"Burrell Haselrig, Sr."
On if considered politics once he finishes his football career:
"I have not given it a bunch of real thought. I am focused on football right now, but at the same time, if there is any way I can help people, that is what I'm passionate about is helping others that are less fortunate or helping others get opportunities or have better lives. If politics is a means to do that and I can create some positive change, that is the legacy you want to leave. That is something you can sink your teeth into. The money and the fame and all that kind of stuff, it is cool, but it is not anything important and nothing that my kids will be able to say, 'Man, that was my dad and something I am proud of.'"
On playing against the Steelers for the first time since his concussion and if there is any lingering anger toward the Steelers:
"No more than them being the Pittsburgh Steelers (laughter). That is pretty much all you need. I have the same fire I always do. I am from Western Pennsylvania and a major portion of my family are Pittsburgh Steelers fans so that in itself is enough for me."
On if the rivalry against the Steelers was stronger with the Bengals, given the recent series results were more evenly split:
"You can say that, but at the same time, it is still the Cleveland Browns versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think the rivalry is stronger here for Cleveland fans. You can't look at a Cleveland fan in the face and say that. Even in Pittsburgh, at the time we were still trying to find our way and we had some good teams and some good battles, but Browns and Steelers, that is the story."
On if the NFL explained to him why the hit in his last game against the Steelers was not flagged:
"No, man. You play this game long enough, you are going to see that, you are going to be a part of it or you are going to see it happen to other players. Like I said, it is over and done with. I can't explain the rules, and I do not think any of us can explain a lot of the rules. That seems to be the norm now."
On if he had a 'wow moment' during his visit at the White House:
"We stood in front of a picture in the Eisenhower Executive Building over at the White House of Martin Luther King (Jr.), and it was the meeting that kind of prompted [Civil Rights advancements and] blacks being able to vote, which is a big deal. To see that and just walking in those historic hallways and realizing all the history that you learned about and you are like literally in the same space as them, it was a surreal moment. It is kind of like –I say it all the time – being able to put on the same helmet as (Pro Football Hall of Fame RB) Jim Brown. That is a big deal, and I know we get caught up that 'Oh yeah, everyone who puts it on [puts it on] every year,' but it is a privilege. When you get to be in the presence of greatness like that, you have to appreciate it."
QB Josh McCown:
On the trip to Washington D.C.:
"It was a good experience, very humbling to be a part of something like that and to go meet with so many good people. That is something that is a very serious topic in our country. I learned so much and I am grateful to (Lions WR) Anquan (Boldin) and the other guys who invited me to come along."
On if he previously played with Lions WR AnQuan Boldin:
"Yeah, in Arizona. I got there a year before he did so we have known each other almost 15 years now and have just maintained a close friendship ever since, and I have been a part of his foundation for a long time. For me, we have this relationship where when he calls and says, 'We are going,' I say yes, let's and we will figure out the details later. I just have so much respect for who he is as a man and what he is about that when he shot me the text that said he wanted to talk to me about some stuff, it was a no-brainer for me."
On if he agrees with WR Andrew Hawkins saying it was an open conversation:
"Absolutely. That is the idea, to just see where it is at and to see what kind of conversation are happening. Obviously, as professional athletes, you have a certain influence, and it is what you can do to help continue the progress being made to bring people together because these issues are tough. It is easy for when things happen for everybody to run to one side or the other, and we just feel like if we can stand in the middle and help move things along and help bridge gaps as best we can, that is us doing our part. It was a great opportunity to go."
On if the players opened the representatives' eyes to anything:
"No, I think for us, we are just going and learning about the work that is already being done and seeing what we can do to help. I certainly think for them, understanding that we were coming there not with any agenda but just to listen and offer our influence and the things that we can do to help move it along and bring people together in that regard. For them, that would be a better question for them. I felt like all in all, it was a good trip."
On why it was important for him personally to participate in the conversations:
"Just looking at what is going on in our country and the landscape of things and the fact that there is so much hurt coming out of this. There is hurt and fear that follows and anger and people running to sides. You just want to understand everything as best as you can and step in. You want to be able to stand with both sides and say we want to understand them and realize that these are tough times and that we are here for you, that we want to emphasize with those that are hurting that are losing loved ones but at the same time support law enforcement and their efforts to better their relationship with communities. Whatever things we can do to lend hands to prevent these things from happening is really the goal."
On the next step in the process:
"The next step is just to keep the conversation going. We will continue to talk amongst the group of guys that went and see as this process grows if there are others that are interested in being involved. The good thing yesterday was just the willingness for those involved to continue to work on this and to continue to try to move it forward. It is probably more time spent for the offseason at this point, but certainly, it is stuff that we want to continue to move forward in a direction that hopefully helps see things get better. That is the ultimate goal is just to see improvements on both sides and to continue to make progress."
On if he has previously spent a lot of time with representatives of Congress:
"No, this was a new thing for me, and it was eye-opening and very humbling just to go and see everything that goes on in the Capitol and just the work that is done and how many people – I know there is obviously a perception of D.C. and politicians – but see how many people have given their lives to public service and to trying to do things to help others. For me, I walked away very encouraged just by some of the meetings that we had and just the whole process and seeing how many people are involved in making everything go. It was just a great experience."
On if the representatives of Congress welcomed the players' contributions:
"Yeah, I think so. Everybody was welcoming when we sat down. They answered questions and the conversations were real. There was great back and forth. I absolutely feel like there was a welcoming from both sides. We were glad to be there."
On if he had a surreal moment while walking around Washington:
"Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, several moments like that where you are involved in these conversations and you are sitting amongst some people that you see on CNN or something, and it is like, 'Man.' For me, just humbling and just grateful to get to be a part of that because I felt like I walked away a better person because of it. Anytime you can spend a day doing something like that and feel like you can grow personally, that is a good day. In my 15-year career, it is one of the highlights for me just being a part of that yesterday."
On if he feels a sense of obligation to use the influence that professional athletes have in order to inspire positive change:
"Yeah, I just think it is as humans, you sit and you see these things going on, and at a certain level, you get stirred about it and go, 'Man, how can we make it better?' Then you realize where your journey in life has brought you, and you say, 'Man, there is a level of influence that comes with playing in the NFL and so what can I do to leverage that for good? How can we leverage those things for good and to help be a part of solutions to move us forward?' Nobody wants to see that happen. Nobody wants to lose loved ones. I couldn't imagine what that is like for some of these people that have gone through this. At the same time from a law enforcement perspective, just the jobs that they have to go out and do every night and the way that they go about it and just how much respect we have for them, you see both sides and you go, 'What can I do to help bridge the gaps in those relationships to make it better for everybody?'"
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.:
On if this game has special meaning for him given that he is from the Pittsburgh area:
"Not really. Obviously, you want to do well, and it is obviously going to be on TV back at home and stuff like that. Like I always say, for me, I love competing no matter what and every week. I was just talking to the Pittsburgh media – they were asking me because I said I was excited about the game, but that is how I am every week. I am excited about a new opportunity. I am excited that I am actually a little healthy right now. I had that three-day break and my legs feel pretty darn good so I am really excited about that so I will be able to be out there flying on Sunday, and hopefully, it continues to get better and I feel even better. I am excited about that as well."
On areas the Browns offense has improved:
"We did not have a great game Thursday. We did not as an offense, and there are a lot of things to it. We have six games left. It starts this Sunday, and we really have to pull together some drives, put together some big time plays because I believe in this team. I love playing for (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson). I am going to play until the end for Coach Hue, and I am going to give him everything I have these last six games. I am feeling healthy, and I am really going to go all out for him. Hopefully, we can bring home a win for him because he deserves it and this coaching staff deserves it. We had a lot of energy today offensively, defensively, special teams, and I thought it was one of our best practices of the season so it is a positive. That is all I am going to take out of it is it is a positive, and we can't look back on the past. Let's try to make some big time plays so we can talk about that next week and say how awesome we did, and we can do that Sunday. I am looking forward to it, and we all are."
On the Steelers organization and if it was weird for him growing up in the Pittsburgh area but not being a Steelers fan:
"I don't think so. As a kid, you don't really understand the significance of how people love the Steelers. Even some places, in Ohio there is Steelers stuff around, and it is a great organization. That is somewhere we want to be, and we want to be great and bring championships here, and I think we can, but this is the test. First test, and we have to beat them."
On why he believes the Browns have had second half struggles:
"It is not to say anything about the coaches. It is not to say anything about the players. For us, as a team – that is combined coaching staff, players, everyone – we have to just stay on the attack, and I think the coaches give us the right plays and we just have to attack it. We have to attack the plays they give us, and we have to go be excited like right after the kickoff and we go on and take the field. We are excited, we have juices flowing, it has to be like that coming out of the half. I think that is the difference. Obviously, a young team and there are different things that happen. Like I have said before, all it takes is one to two plays that you miss offensively or defensively, and it is a big thing in a game and it makes a difference. Once we cut that out and minimize defensively big plays and offensively make big plays so our defense can get fired up because that plays a big part, we have to play well on offense and give our defense some fire, and that comes hand-in-hand. That has a lot to do with the offense. We have to play better and we have to give our defense some fire and something that really wants them to go. We have to come out there, and I think Sunday is the best way to start it. We had a great practice, and I am really looking forward to this game."