Before embarking on a three-day minicamp, the Browns' rookies gathered for dinner in downtown Cleveland on Thursday night.
As they broke bread, general manager John Dorsey and head coach Hue Jackson laid out their expectations moving forward. Perhaps most importantly, they invited the team's alumni — including Jim Brown, Hanford Dixon and Kevin Mack — to speak about a standard of success they once set. Bernie Kosar and a number of other notable alums were also in attendance.
The message was loud and clear.
"This franchise is built on winning," quarterback Baker Mayfield said. "They've been winning in the past, and some of those guys set the tone. Right now, we're trying to get back to that."
Indeed, Cleveland's rookie class believes they can be the catalyst for a turnaround. That is, after all, why they were brought here in the first place.
Mayfield, the former Oklahoma star and No. 1 overall pick, headlines a nine-member draft class and larger group of youngsters who are bullish they can help the Browns get back on track following the first winless season in franchise history and a 1-31 mark over two years.
But for before these Browns carve out a brighter future, they learned about the past and a foundation that players like Brown, Kosar, Josh Cribbs and others helped build.
"There are a lot of players that created a platform for us to keep going," linebacker and fifth-round pick Genard Avery said. "They are leading the way, and we are just trying to change this organization around."
"It's so hard to show your appreciation for those guys and everything that they've done," added offensive lineman Austin Corbett, the 33rd overall pick in the draft. "It truly just was an honor to be there."
With rookie minicamp in the books, the Browns — rookies and veterans — will reconvene for OTA practices starting May 22. Mayfield, who is expected to sit and learn behind starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor next season, said he's eager to help create a winner's mentality in the locker room.
"It doesn't matter what's happened in the past. It's about what are you going to do for it now," he said.
"How are you working toward making this team better? It starts in the locker room, and that's why you bring in some of the guys that this franchise has been bringing in. You change the culture in the locker room, and you get some belief in it. We don't have to talk about it. We know what we have in there."