The view from the inside

Posted by Vic Carucci on June 29, 2011 – 10:00 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

I’m a lucky guy. Here I am, sitting in my office at the Berea, Ohio, headquarters of one of the best-known franchises in all of sports, writing this column.

To my right is a radio studio. Beginning late next month, I’ll be spending plenty of time there.

Two floors down is a television set. Going to be hanging out quite a bit in that area as well in the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years.

Everywhere else in the building is all that makes a pro football team tick. Well, not all, but that will change as soon the players get here.

And I’m right in the middle of it. As I said, lucky guy.

After more than a decade of covering the NFL from a figurative altitude of 30,000 feet — where I kept a daily watch on all 32 teams — I’m now at ground level concentrating primarily on one team. This team. Your team.

The Browns.

What I discovered during 12 seasons at NFL.com is that all football, like all politics, is local. By far, the question I heard most often was, “How do you think my team is going to do?”

When it came to loyalty, few, if any, of the millions of regular visitors to the site were generic. You didn’t encounter a whole lot of people who called themselves “league” fans. They rooted for specific colors.

And whenever I said anything about any one of their teams, especially if it was the slightest bit negative, I would hear about it. Or if I complimented a rival of a fan’s favorite club, I’d hear about that, too. You love those guys, you hate us. The fact was, I didn’t love or hate any team. My comments never had anything to do with personal bias, but fans often perceived them as such regardless of the rooting interest in question.

Which is what makes this new gig — my second with the Browns after working with the team in 2005 — such a great fit. As long as every interaction is going to strike a chord with a particular fan base, I decided I might as well interact with some of the most passionate fans on the planet.

Beginning later this summer, I’ll be doing that for an hour a day, five days a week, while hosting a new show called “Cleveland Browns Daily.” It will air on 850 ESPN WKNR, and be streamed live on this site as well as on ESPNCleveland.com.

The aforementioned radio studio is only steps away from everyone who is anyone at the team’s training facility, and it will be hopping all year long. You’ll regularly hear from Browns president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert, and coach Pat Shurmur. You’ll hear from other members of the front-office and coaching staffs. You’ll hear from the players, from the Browns radio team of Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken, and from national media types.

And when I’m not behind a microphone, I’ll be blogging and writing columns and feature stories for this site. Staff writer Matt Florjancic and I will keep you up to speed with the latest news and notes about the Browns as well as the rest of the NFL.

Team-produced video pieces and pre- and post-game radio shows are also going to be a part of this latest chapter in a pro football journalism career that began in the late1970s. So, too, will my weekly appearances as a host and co-host on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

I consider this incredible journey to be a blessing. It has placed me on the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills beats, at playoff and conference-championship games, Super Bowls and Pro Bowls. It has given me the chance to witness record-breaking moments and cover numerous players and coaches who would wind up in — or are destined for — the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My travels also allowed me to be on hand for some of the more triumphant and agonizing moments at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Whenever I see that orange helmet, I think of the tradition and rich history that put the Browns in a very special place on the nation’s sporting landscape.

Now, I am back in that place. And I’m a lucky guy.

Follow me on Twitter @viccarucci


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