The Browns new-look preseason broadcast booth hits close to home.
Thirty-year sports broadcast veteran and longtime Browns fan Jay Crawford and former Browns quarterback Tim Couch will call the team's three locally televised preseason games -- Aug. 9-13 at New York Giants, Aug. 16-20 vs. Buffalo and Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at Detroit -- on News 5. The Browns' Aug. 23 game against the Eagles will be nationally broadcast by FOX.
Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken will serve as the radio broadcast team on Browns preseason games and also call their 20th consecutive regular season together.
"It's a dream come true," Crawford said. "I'm a lifelong Browns fan. I remember all of the heartaches of Red Right 88, The Drive and The Fumble. I've experienced all of the highs and all of the lows. For me to get an opportunity to call the team that I grew up watching, and even through my adult life have followed and loved, is really a 'pinch me' moment. I couldn't be more excited."
Crawford, who is currently living in Cleveland and serving as an executive in-residence at his alma mater, Bowling Green, spent the past decade at ESPN, where he anchored SportsCenter, did play-by-play for the network's Little League World Series broadcasts and hosted a variety of other programs across the network. His previous jobs took him all over the country, whether it was covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for WFTS-TV in Tampa or the Buckeyes for WBNS-TV in Columbus, but he always stayed glued to every shred of news that came out of Berea.
Crawford has hung with the team through everything it's faced over the years. He views this current era as one with unlimited potential.
"I'm really excited for the opportunity to be a part of what I consider to be a real metamorphosis. I see this organization moving in the right direction," he said. "It's a really fun time to be involved. I know as Browns fans we get excited every April and every preseason, but for the first time in a long time, this feels palpable. This feels real. I'm thrilled I'll get an opportunity to connect with a fan base that is so hungry for a winner.
"To be back home and be a part of that broadcast team is honestly one of the more exciting things I've had a chance to do in my career."
Crawford graduated from Bowling Green in 1987 and took on his first broadcasting job at a TV station in Hazard, Kentucky. There, he covered one of the area's most successful athletes who starred as a multi-sport athlete before going on to bigger and better things in college and the NFL.
It was Couch.
"Of all the athletes I covered," Crawford said, "Tim Couch was one of the best."
Couch, who starred at Kentucky, was the team's first draft pick in its first year back as a franchise in 1999. He started 59 games over five seasons, leading the team throughout its last regular season that ended with a playoff berth in 2002. He threw for 11,131 yards and 64 touchdowns during his Browns career, the most by any of the team's signal-callers since 1999.
Couch, who recently served as a color analyst on SEC regional broadcasts, can't think of a better time to reconnect with a franchise and fan base he knows as well as anyone.
"I'm super excited about it," he said. "I haven't been back in Cleveland since I left there. It's going to be nice to get back up there and be around the organization again.
"The fans are tremendous. They're some of the best fans in pro football. They show up and support the team no matter what. Last year was a really tough year for them, but I think they've made some great moves in the offseason. They're on the right track now and they've got some really talented players in there and have some great draft picks coming up. The opportunity is there to get better really fast."