BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – DeShone Kizer has heard all about the infamous Browns quarterback jersey that became an embarrassing badge of honor for die hard fans.
Although Kizer has never seen it, he doesn’t need to.
A Toledo, Ohio native, Kizer is all too familiar with what a disaster the expansion Browns have been and the quarterback graveyard that has followed since 1999.
“Enough to know that there has been quite a few,” Kizer said Monday when asked if he realized how many QBs Cleveland has gone through. “Due to injury and due to some success in the field, they have not been able to find their guy. That is all I need to know to understand that I need to go out there and work hard every day to stop that tradition here.”
His hope and optimism is understandable, if not expected.
It’s the same optimism that Ty Detmer, Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowsi, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis….and we’re only up to 2012…Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Conner Shaw, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler all had.
“You see that list grow and grow and grow,” Kizer said. “You hear people and the chatter throughout my whole community. Now to be on that list and hopefully end that list will be an awesome situation for me.”
The Browns now turn to the rookie from Notre Dame to end the madness and hopefully save the franchise in the process.
The jersey, originally a Couch No. 2 that listed the last name of each QB, became a local tourist attraction for Browns fans after being placed in a display window by Brokaw Inc, a local ad agency located in the Warehouse district on West 6th and Lakeside.
It has since been retired after the Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s championship drought in 2016 and the Browns hope to retire what has been an inglorious chapter in franchise history starting on Sept. 10 when Kizer takes the field against the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“It is 2017, and I bet you [with] 10 of those 26 [quarterbacks] I was not even considering playing in the NFL at the time so that is way behind us,” Kizer said. “Obviously, the vibes out here at practice are completely different than what they have been in the past. We have a new coaching staff, we have been through new owners in that time and that in itself should show you that there are some things changing here.”
Kizer is now No. 27 and the 15th different opening day starter since 1999. Only 1 in 18 seasons has actually survived the full 16-game schedule – Couch in 2001 before an injury forced him to miss the playoff game at Pittsburgh.
Through the years Browns quarterbacks have been the victims of poor performances, poor support, organizational impatience, injuries or bad luck. But none of that matters to Kizer now.
“The goal for me is being out there helping my team win,” Kizer said. “Obviously, winning is something that we want to do here and we haven’t been able to do for quite a few years now. To be a start of hopefully that tradition that we want to have here would be once again an honor.”
Kizer started training camp as the No. 3 quarterback but worked his way up the depth chart to start Saturday night at Tampa Bay where he won the job.
Head coach Hue Jackson has promised that he will stick with Kizer – for better or worse – this season.
“I am going to ride this with DeShone,” Jackson said Monday. “The good, the bad, whatever comes.”
Jackson has invested a lot of time with Kizer since the draft to prepare him for this moment and it’s now on Kizer to pay dividends.
“You see a lot of the successful teams have great quarterback and head coach relationships,” Kizer said. “For us to start off the way we have, obviously, if we can go out there and have a little success and we continue to grow in that sense, hopefully, this can be something that can last for 10-15 years.”