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Browns rookie minicamp attendees get a history lesson

The Cleveland Browns, lauded by those familiar with the history of professional football, carry a rich tradition with them.

Just look at the team name: Browns, chosen as a reflection of the franchise's first coach, Hall of Famer Paul Brown.

That storied history has been lost on a significant portion of the current generation of athletes. That's something the organization is attempting to change, starting with its new crop of rookies.

The Browns welcomed back former stars Bernie Kosar, Webster Slaughter, Eric Metcalf, Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack and of course, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown on Thursday, and gave the new arrivals a chance to get familiar with the franchise's legends during its rookie dinner.

"(General manager) John (Dorsey) and I wanted them to see what it was to be a Cleveland Brown and what it meant to the city and take it from experience that somebody had already had," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said Friday. "I think it went really well."

Dorsey holds a special appreciation for football history, so much that he's spent his last two mornings after the NFL draft at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He's passionate about the game's past, present and future, making it even easier for him to see the importance of educating his organization's newest arrivals on the gravity of the franchise for which they're suiting up.

As a result, the staff has made an effort to educate the entire team on the history of the franchise, which was founded in 1946 as a member of the All-America Football Conference and won eight championships in its first 19 seasons.

"Definitely with the rookies. We even did it with the veterans," Kitchens said of the history lesson given to his players. "Our first team meeting, we showed them a video of what the Browns meant to the city and what the Browns mean to the NFL in general and some of the good times that Cleveland has had in the past. When you talk about three AFC Championships (appearances) in the '80s, just knowing what those guys went through to get there, hopefully, our guys can feed off of that some. I know it doesn't hurt to be able to communicate with those guys to show them what could happen and the potential of happening."

It likely helped that the stars of those 1980s teams were in the building Thursday to meet with the rookies. It definitely landed on one undrafted free agent signee, receiver Dorian Baker.

"I just told y'all I'm a Browns fan!" Baker, a Cleveland Heights native, told reporters Saturday when asked if he was aware of the significance of his No. 19 jersey. "I'm blessed, it's an opportunity I get to showcase (Kosar's) number, hopefully I get it for the season. I'm blessed to be representing his number right now."

Baker grew up as a fan of the Browns and mentioned his uncle has been a season-ticket member for the last decade or so. He said it was easy to decide where to sign after the conclusion of the draft.

"I got this call and I immediately took it," Baker said. "It was the first one -- welcome to the Browns."

Should Baker stick with the team long enough, perhaps he can help educate his fellow Browns on the team's history. After all, they won't have to look too far for a former star to help tell them about the wonderful past with a bright future awaiting them just around the corner.