NORTH RIDGEVILLE —** The Browns dropped by North Ridgeville High School on Tuesday afternoon, but their presence was largely unannounced.
In a surprise visit, Cleveland offensive lineman Cameron Erving and quarterback Robert Griffin III helped star in presenting the school with $25,000 toward new helmets thanks to the HELMETS program, a coordinated effort from the Browns, UnitedHealthcare and University Hospitals.
"It was a great experience," Erving said. "It was great to see the kids so happy to get new helmets and it's always important to be safe."
HELMETS aims at advancing player safety in high school football by awarding a Northeast Ohio area high school football program with $25,000 in new football helmets. And as a prerequisite, programs must commit to enhancing player health and safety by enrolling in USA Football's medically endorsed Heads Up Football® program, which offers certification clinics to educate coaches about concussion recognition and response protocols, proper equipment fitting, Heads Up Tackling, Heads Up Blocking, heat emergency preparedness and hydration, and sudden cardiac arrest.
"It's the most popular sport in the United States of America, and we want to make sure it stays safe so many generations from now can continue to play," Griffin said. "So this is one step toward that."
After members of the Rangers football team filed into a classroom here during the school day, they were soon greeted by Erving, who made his way to the stage as of the sound of whispers, oohs and ahhs filled the room.
Griffin, one of the newer members of the Browns, played another role. Behind a curtain, he dressed up in a brand new, all-white North Ridgeville uniform — helmet, shoulder pads and all — and froze himself into a pose.
"I was a mannequin," Griffin said. "I had to tap into my inner-mime."
When Griffin revealed himself, the room erupted into cheers and first pumps.
"It just shows how much our owners and coaches and anybody who has anything to do with the Browns want to keep this game going and keep it alive and they also want to promote the safety," Erving said.
"It means the world because one day my kids are probably going to play football, so it probably means a lot."
The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting in the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/community.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.
About University Hospitals:
University Hospitals, the second largest private employer in Northeast Ohio with 26,000 employees, serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 16 hospitals, more than 35 outpatient health centers and primary care physician offices in 15 counties. At the core of the $3.5 billion health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center, ranked among America's best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, UH Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopaedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and genetics. Its main campus includes UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. For more information, visit www.uhhospitals.org.