CLEVELAND -- **On their day off amid game-week preparations, Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor and safety Don Jones made their way to James F. Rhodes Stadium, where the club was holding a field dedication ceremony as part of a mission to support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and give back Northeast Ohio.
Pryor's inspiration to join the festivities?
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
"(They're) committed to the community and it's something that's big for them so that's what the Browns are about. It's about a commitment on and off the field in the community, so I think especially when it comes down to kids and children it's important to me that I get out here as much as I can to chat, talk and do whatever," he said Tuesday afternoon.
"Stuff like this, just to get out here and meet and see and interact with the kids, it's an awesome opportunity for me as well."
James F. Rhodes Stadium is one of five CMSD sites that will have synthetic turf installed through a two-year project made possible by the Haslams and the Cleveland Browns Foundation.
The project, which was announced this past May, aims to support education, athletics and youth football and unify local communities that will use the stadiums for all sorts of purposes.
"People come to school for the social environments. Teenagers don't race to school to learn algebra, they race to school for a social environment so just right from the beginning, having great opportunities to build a culture and community at a school like Rhodes where we are today is critically important," CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said, outlining a correlation between student attendance and after-school activities.
"But even beyond that, there's so much research that talks about the relationship between extracurricular activities and athletics in partial and academic achievement. So I know that having kids on these fields all afternoon is increasing reading scores in that building right behind us."
Indeed, the fields are for all students and community members to use. For example, Rhodes hosted a soccer game shortly after the dedication ceremony, something that seemed to underscore how the turf will be used in various ways.
"The fields that we have been installing since the announcement was made in May are used throughout the school, they're used every evening, on the weekends, muni football league players are here back-to-back on Saturdays and Sundays," Browns director of community relations Jenner Tekancic said. "So this really has opened a door and windows of opportunities for kids to really reach for their dreams."
Roye Kidd Stadium, James F. Rhodes Stadium and Bump Taylor Stadium have been completed for the start of the 2016 high school football season, while John Adams Stadium and John Marshall Stadium will be renovated in 2017.
The Browns have also provided new 25-foot scoreboards will be installed as gifts at all five fields.
Pryor, who offered a short and eloquent address to those gathered at the stadium, recalled playing on rough fields back in his hometown of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, and outlined how the "beautiful" turf at Rhodes will benefit those who use it.
"I mean, playing back (home), some guys got injured because of the holes (in the field) so right now you have this pretty even playing surface so nobody has to worry about anything freakish or anything like that … everything's great, it's a beautiful field. Very soft, I was walking on it. It's just awesome," he said.
"It's a great experience for the kids to have a great really beautiful field and beautiful scoreboard. It's definitely an honor to play for people like Dee and Jimmy because they want excellence in everything, in the community, they hit everything."
The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting 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.
The Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year.
Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.
2016 Browns single game tickets are still available. Visit clevelandbrowns.com/tickets.