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Fans turn out in droves for Jarvis Landry's first celebrity softball game

These days around Northeast Ohio, it seems everywhere you go, you'll wind up seeing someone wearing Browns gear.

Many of those fans don the now familiar No. 80, a jersey worn on the field by wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The receiver seems to be taking to the city quicker than your usual star import.

Need proof? Despite steady rain and gray skies, thousands turned out at Classic Park in Eastlake on Saturday for Landry's first celebrity softball game since he was traded to Cleveland in March 2018. Those same fans could be seen tailgating in the surrounding lots before the game, even as the skies never offered even a hint of incoming sunshine.

"I was surprised," Landry said Saturday. "When I did the meet-and-greet underneath the stadium, when it was raining, it was packed. You couldn't even see. I was like 'yo, wait, there's a lot of people here!'"

Rain ponchos were aplenty everywhere except on the field, where Landry hosted a star-studded list of guests and participants in the game. The celebrity game, from which proceeds were donated to charity, followed a home run derby. Former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic finished in second with just one home run serving as the difference.

Miocic's excitement to go out and attempt to hit home runs was matched only by his anticipation for the Browns' upcoming season.

"This year, I'm going to try to make it to every (game)," he said. "If I can't make it, I'll at least make it downtown."

Miocic is planning something special for the 2019 campaign: He'll be wearing a brown blazer with a pattern of Browns helmets all over it. He's aiming to complete the ensemble with a pair of bright orange Converse Chuck Taylors, and he hopes, a triumph unseen in these parts since the Johnson administration.

"I'm trying to be classier this year," he said. "Be professional about it."

Miocic brought some power to the plate at Landry's event, but he wasn't alone. Other large men in attendance were Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, tight end David Njoku, Dolphins guard Davon Godchaux and Broncos tackle Ja'Wuan James.

Chiefs All-Pro tight end and Cleveland Heights native Travis Kelce was also in attendance and was effusive in his praise for Landry's embrace of the Browns fanbase.

"I love Cleveland, man," Kelce said. "I've been a Cleveland sports kid since I was born. ... Cleveland is my home and it'll always be my home no matter where I'm living. I love the city to death.

"Being able to support (Landry) knowing that Cleveland loves him at this point (is great). He adapted to the Cleveland crowd as soon as he got here. He does it right."

Twenty-seven runs were scored between the two teams, with Landry's squad coming out on top 17-10 over a team captained by former Browns cornerback and current Steelers defensive back Joe Haden.

Browns cornerback Denzel Ward and linebacker Christian Kirksey participated in support of Landry as part of Team Haden.

"I just wanted to come and support Jarvis and his charity," Ward said. ... "I was known to be a slugger in my day -- back in T-ball."

Ward didn't hit any home runs, and the consistent rainfall made things difficult for just about everyone in the field. At one point midway through the game, innings were shortened to two outs to expedite action. At another, Haden tumbled over two chairs along the third base line while chasing a foul ball.

In between, Garrett participated in dinosaur-related trivia on the stadium's scoreboard (he finished with a perfect score) and Landry did an on-field interview between innings, telling the fans the goal every year is to train to reach the Super Bowl. The Browns are doing just that, he said.

The fans in the stadium roared, as they did many times at the appearances of their favorite Browns, past and present (Bernie Kosar threw a strike for the ceremonial first pitch). Landry is a big reason why Miocic believes he'll be part of a brown and orange sea roaring plenty this fall.

"When we got him, I was like 'that's what we need,'" Miocic said of Landry. "Just that attitude. I was telling him, when they played the Raiders game and he got in that fight, I swear that changed everything, the whole dynamic. It was like everyone was like 'we've got this, dude.'"

For Landry, this is all just part of a process that he sees as his "only goal": Winning a championship.

"Obviously it's winning, but far as the community and stuff like that and representing the organization and representing myself, I feel like God has given me this platform to be able to do things like this and take advantage of it," Landry said. "Not in the sense of using it for a monetary gain or anything like that, but use it to be able to give back in any way that I possibly can. Our sponsors, the people that donated, the team that we put together to bring this all together is something that is special and near and dear to my heart. Next year it's going to be better, bigger and better. And no rain, hopefully."

Rain or shine, if things go according to plan, it's a safe bet the turnout will be just as strong in 2020.

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