Ex-Colts see two sides of Browns move Possible NFL return tempered by regret over Cleveland's loss

November 04, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

You should excuse Stan White if he strikes a melancholy chord at the news the Cleveland Browns are about to become the Baltimore Browns.

The legendary Browns were, after all, his boyhood team and his childhood dream growing up in Kent, Ohio, some 30 miles south of Cleveland.

"I followed the Browns religiously," White said last night. "Jim Brown, Frank Ryan, Gary Collins . . .

"I guess for me, my feelings are a little mixed. It's a little unbelievable to me they'd leave."

The two teams White is associated with most -- the Baltimore Colts and now, apparently, the Browns -- have paid a steep price to keep up with today's economics in the NFL, just as the Los Angeles-to-St. Louis Rams and the Los Angeles-to-Oakland Raiders have in the past year.

"The Rams leaving Los Angeles is unbelievable, too," said White, a one-time Baltimore Colts linebacker. "Another storied franchise. It says the bottom line [in the NFL] is how much money you can generate. That's what it comes down to in today's sports world.

"I think we found out you're better off keeping and building the team you have than all of a sudden finding out you don't have a team."

If there is an emotional adjustment to be made at the relocation of one of the NFL's greatest franchises, former Colts safety Rick Volk is more than eager to make it.

The Baltimore Browns?

"I love it," Volk said. "It sounds good to me. It sort of flows."

Like White, Volk made Baltimore his home after his playing days. And like White, he suffered as Baltimore made a futile attempt to get an NFL expansion team.

After having the Colts slink out of town in the dead of night, does this represent a wrong righted?

"You hate to steal a team," Volk said. "And I don't think we would."

Even though Browns owner Art Modell yesterday told reporters that he was no longer committed to staying in Cleveland, Volk has a nagging doubt.

"Yeah, I'm suspicious," he said. "I wouldn't be optimistic for that fact that just because he said it, it doesn't mean they're coming. And how many times have we heard that before?"

Abandoned by his old team, Volk would welcome the opportunity to become affiliated with Baltimore's new one.

"Because we haven't had an NFL team [since 1984], it's been nice for the [former Colts] because we're still sort of special. The Browns may not consider us as one of them, but they may recognize us and try to make us feel part of it.

"I know we've got the [CFL] Stallions and they've been successful. I think [owner] Jim Speros has done a heck of a job with it. He's kept the old Colts part of it, and I appreciate what he's doing for us. [But] I don't feel part of that team."

The arrival of the Browns would signal the inevitable departure of the two-year-old Stallions, who made history last year by reaching the Grey Cup title game as an expansion team.

"If a team comes here, I would most likely leave," Speros said Thursday. "I've been here two years, put a championship-caliber team on the field and I'm still struggling? I couldn't stay here. There are greener pastures elsewhere. I'd have to take a look at someplace else."

White said he didn't believe the move to be a fait accompli. But if it happens, he said he thinks the Browns are beating a pack to Baltimore's door.

"The economics of the situation would be tantalizing to a lot of people," he said. "I think what it came down to was, it looked like one person was going to take the deal and other people wanted to jump in."

If it does happen, White has one wish.

"I would hope they'd change their name," he said.

Former Colts quarterback and wide receiver Sam Havrilak was skeptical about news of the impending move.

"I won't believe it until I see them playing here," said Havrilak, who is a dentist in Parkville. "We have been burned too many times before. It's getting to be like crying wolf. My initial reaction is still that Cleveland is using Baltimore as a pawn. If it happens, nobody will be happier than me."

Havrilak said he won't feel sorry for Cleveland if the Browns move.

"I don't feel like Baltimore is taking anything. It's the teams that want to come here because they see how much Baltimore has to offer. It would have happened sooner if the NFL hadn't blocked it before."

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