BEREA — Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden was among the Cleveland professional sports figures and celebrities that took in the Cavaliers game Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The game was a big deal, if you haven’t heard. It was the first time Miami Heat forward LeBron James returned to Cleveland since he decided to leave the Cavaliers last July.
Actor Drew Carey and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar were among the famous contingent wearing wine-colored Cavaliers jerseys in support of Cleveland. Haden received a jersey, too. His donned the same number he wears for the Browns, No. 23.
That was James’ number when he played seven seasons in Cleveland. Oops.
“I was walking around and everyone saw the 23 on the front,” said Haden, who later turned the jersey backward to revel his name, not James’. “I was like, ‘Don’t worry. My name is on the back.’”
Haden, who was a starter on his high school’s state championship basketball team, admitted Friday he is a LeBron James fan. Thursday’s game was the first chance Haden had to see James play in person.
“It was really sweet to watch him play,” Haden said. “It wasn’t too good, though, he smashed us.”
Haden, along with teammate Josh Cribbs, where shown on the Jumbotron before the game. Fans responded with a loud ovation. Both Browns players took notice.
“I know Cleveland fans would have rather cheer for LeBron than against him,” Cribbs said. “We’d rather have him on our team. This is a great sports town, though, and yesterday they showed their passion.”
“They say Miami doesn’t have a good fan base. They can’t fill seats at their stadiums. Cleveland doesn’t have that problem. Cleveland is football. Cleveland is sports. This is a great city to play sports in. The whole city is behind you. You don’t worry about filling the stands. They’re going to come.”
James’ Heat would win Thursday’s game in a rout, 118-90. The outcome was decided by halftime. As Cribbs left the arena, fans were already looking ahead to the Browns game Sunday at Miami.
“I heard fans say, ‘That’s all right, wait until the Browns go down there,’” Cribbs said. “I was saying that, too. I can’t wait to go down there and play with our team and we know we have the city behind us.”
Some Satisfaction: Mangini said Friday he did have a conversation with the NFL this week regarding official’s late-game ruling last Sunday. The missed 42-yard field goal by Carolina kicker John Kasay was set up by a 28-yard reception by Brandon LaFell with five seconds remaining.
Since the play occurred under two minutes, there was a mandated booth review on whether or not LaFell caught the ball. Mangini said after the game last Sunday, he was told by an official that if it is indeed ruled a catch, LaFell was touched down in bounds. Carolina had no times outs remaining and the final five seconds on the clock would expire. Thus eliminating the possibility of a field goal attempt. Instead, the catch was ruled good and the Panthers were allowed to attempt the kick.
Although Mangini said he did discuss what happened with the league, he would not go into specifics on what was said.
“I don’t think I’m able to,” Mangini said. “I am satisfied with the answer.”
Fishy stats: Since public relations departments of NFL teams work hard compiling statistics, here are some interesting ones when it comes to Sunday’s opponent, the Miami Dolphins:
- Of the Dolphins’ five losses, four have occurred at home. It’s not so much the Dolphins can’t play at home, it’s who the Dolphins play at home. In those four losses, the opponents — Jets (31-23 on Sept. 26), Patriots (41-14 on Oct. 4), Steelers (23-22 on Oct. 24) and Bears (16-0 on Nov. 18) enter week 13 a combined 34-10.
- In five seasons with Miami, running back Ricky Williams is second on the team’s all-time list with 6,259 rushing yards and needs 478 to surpass Larry Csonka (6,737) for most in Dolphins’ history. Williams also needs 612 to reach 10,000 career yards.
- Williams assault on Csonka does not end there. He needs 44 attempts to tie Csonka (1,506) for the highest rushing attempts in Dolphins history and he needs five touchdowns to tie Csonka (53) for the team’s most rushing touchdowns.
- Csonka is not the only Dolphins legend with team records in danger. In 1984, Mark Clayton and Mark Duper combined for 144 catches. Currently, Brandon Marshall (58) and Davone Bess (55) are on pace to finish the season with 164.
- Kicker Dan Carpenter was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. He has made 28 consecutive field goals inside 45 yards.
Injury Report: Linebacker Scott Fujita (knee), Peyton Hillis (personal reasons), quarterback Colt McCoy (ankle) and defensive lineman Shaun Rogers (ankle) missed practice Friday while wide receiver Josh Cribbs (foot) did see some reps, at least while practice was open to the media from 11:15-11:45 a.m.
“It’s not 100 percent,” Cribbs said. “It’s a matter of battling through it.”
When it comes to game time Sunday, Mangini expects Cribbs, Hillis and Rogers to be ready.
“We’re further along with Josh than we were last week,” Manigni said. “I’m comfortable with his ability to play Sunday and play at a high level.”
Cribbs will return to his role as the Browns primary kick returner. As far as his role as a wide receiver, it will be addressed once the game starts.
“We’ll play it by ear during the course of the game,” Mangini said.