CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - Upon hearing that the Browns would play host to a flag football game at Cleveland Browns Stadium during ‘Marine Week’ Alex Mack and Ben Watson jumped at the chance to participate.
The two teammates ended up on opposing sidelines Wednesday night for the exhibition.
Mack coached the Cleveland First responders, which consisted of local EMS, police and firefighters, while Watson roamed the sidelines for the Marine Corps.
“When I heard that there was going to be a Marine Week here in Cleveland I was real excited,” Mack said. “It’s important to show our thanks (to those that serve) and to be a part of this was a big honor for me.”
Related: PHOTO GALLERY – Marines vs Cleveland First Responders Flag Football Game.
Watson, who has been known to pull the occasional practical joke in the locker room, brought six full boxes of doughnuts to midfield for the coin toss and tried to give them to the First Responders as a peace offering.
The tongue in cheek gesture from the heart backfired on Watson and the Marines.
“They did not (like the doughnuts),” Watson said. “Maybe that started it off wrong for us. I don’t know but after that, they were upset and kicked our butt.”
Yep, the First Responders left their sense of humor in the locker room as they cruised to an easy 28-0 victory.
“We were outplayed tonight, bottom line,” Watson said. “We started off the game pretty well defensively by getting a couple of picks early but we couldn’t hang with them.”
Watson and Mack travel with the USO during the off season to visit troops overseas – including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Watson has been touched by the stories that he’s heard over the years from the young men and women who sacrifice to serve, which is why he wanted to show his support by participating Wednesday night.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” Watson said. “I have the utmost respect for the first responders as well as the marines. For Cleveland to have ‘Marine Week’ I hope everyone takes advantage of it to see what these guys do.”
As for the game, despite having a grin that stretched ear to ear, Mack took very little credit for the sound victory by his team.
“It was definitely the players,” Mack said. “They’ve been doing this a long time. They definitely knew a lot about flag football and it was a lot of fun to play with them. I don’t know that I did a lot of coaching.
“I had a great time because they were fun guys.”
Related: PHOTO GALLERY – Marine Week Cleveland.
Over 2,500 attended the event which was free and open to the public – as are all of the festivities at North Coast Harbor and Voinovich Park.
“It’s a community effort,” Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson said. “Everyone is attempting to make this successful and I appreciate what people have done to make it a great event.”
‘Marine Week’ will run through Sunday, June 17 downtown.