Browns fans unite for film premiere

STEUBENVILLE – The cheers and barking started during the commercials and movie previews Sunday afternoon.

The real applause came at the beginning of the movie that stars Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver, general manager of the Cleveland Browns, who has been ordered by the team owner to “make a splash in the draft.”

But the cheers turned to boos when one of the Browns front office personnel compared the potential top pick in the football draft to Ben Rothlisberger.

The loudest boos were heard when clips from past years were shown including one of John Elway leading the Denver Broncos down the field in a playoff game against the Browns.

Armed with the No. 1 draft pick Weaver is under siege by college football stars hoping to be picked by the Browns, his front office personnel, the team coach and his girlfriend who works as the Browns salary cap manager.

But for the approximately 60 football fans who wore a variety of Browns T-shirts, jerseys, ball caps and even earrings, it was a movie about their beloved Cleveland Browns.

“I really enjoyed the movie, especially as a Browns fan. It was a good football movie and a great Browns story. It gives me hope for this year,” remarked Steve Lamatrice after the 1:15 p.m movie.

His son, Cameron Lamatrice, agreed and said the movie accurately portrayed the dedicated Browns fan base.

“I also enjoyed the intensity of the draft day in the movie. We don’t get to see that on the NFL draft day,” noted Cameron Lamatrice.

“Draft Day” also offered hope for Eric Reske, a lifetime Browns fan who said he enjoyed the movie, “a lot and, yes, it makes me optimistic about our real draft day next month.”

The Browns fans gathered in the Carmike Cinemas theater lobby and outside of the theater and the conversations were about football, who the Browns will draft and the 2014 season.

“This is something we all can relate to. The number of fans here today shows the dedication we have for our team. We were winners for many years and it has been tough in recent years. But Browns fans are always true fans. We don’t quit rooting for our team. Our fan base has always been there and today shows we love everything about the Browns,” stated season ticket holder Tim Zifzal of Smithfield.

Suzanne Dieguz-Kimmel of Steubenville said some of the movie scenes brought tears to her eyes.

“I have been a Browns fan for life. And I enjoyed the story about the college running back who wants to be drafted by the Browns because his father played for the Browns. Watching this movie gives me hope and, maybe, Kevin Costner will save our team,” said Dieguz-Kimmel, a self-described third-generation Browns fan.

“Although I don’t know why they had to show Elway in our movie,” laughed Dieguz-Kimmel.

Perry Jeter of Steubenville also liked the movie.

Jeter played for the Chicago Bears in the 1950s but has always been a Browns fan.

“I thought there would be more football action, but I enjoyed watching the movie. It showed the back room scenes of a team’s draft decisions,” Jeter said.

Lifetime Browns fan John Phillips also liked the movie story and said he is now ready for the 2014 season.

“The movie gives me hope for our draft this year. You could feel the excitement building throughout the movie because we didn’t know what decision Costner was going to make in the draft. I liked the way Costner portrayed the general manager because he had the guts to make tough decisions. I hope we see that in our draft and our season this year,” said Christine Werkin who arrived at the theater with her lifelong friend and Browns fan Bernadette Hall.

According to Lamont McCoy of Smithfield, “Draft Day” may be a sign of the future for the Browns.

“When ‘Major League’ came out about the Indians that team started winning again. Maybe ‘Draft Day’ will give us a winner again. I also liked the movie because it showed what the players are going through on draft day and it showed how a team’s war room works on draft day. It gave us an idea of everything going on behind the scenes,” declared McCoy.

And, Barry Robb of Wintersville, who started talking to his friends about a Browns party at the “Draft Day” movie, thought Sunday was a good day for a football movie.

“I appreciate Carmike Cinemas bringing the movie here to Steubenville. And, I really liked the movie because it was about the Browns. It was an excellent movie and it was great to see so many Browns fans together having some fun here in Steubenville,” said Robb.