By Chris Mahoney | 6/8/12 12:00 PM
The Long Island Lizards had a surprise guest in their locker room last Friday night before their game against the Ohio Machine: new owner Jim Brown gave the pregame speech.
Brown reminded the Lizards that collective effort breeds success, then offered his unwavering support for the team. “Champions are made up of teams where each and every man does everything he can do to help his team win,” said Brown, who knows a thing or two about championship teams. “So with that I say God bless you, we’re going to be behind you, go out and make us proud of you, and whatever happens baby we’re in your corner.”
Brown is part of the Long Island's new ownership group, which has drawn rave reviews from players and coaches.
“These guys are investing in us… Seeing them face-to-face and hearing their ideas for the future means a lot to a player”said Greg Gurenlian, the face-off specialist for the Lizards. Coach Joe Spallina agreed that the new ownership has had a positive impact on the players, saying “I think the guys feel like they’re significant and they matter, that’s the biggest thing.”
Brown is no stranger to lacrosse, having played at Syracuse University where he led the team to an undefeated national championship as a senior in 1957, earning First-team All-American honors for his performance.
Of course, Brown is better known for his success on the gridiron with the Cleveland Browns, for whom he won three NFL MVP awards in a short nine-year career. He is the only man who could be considered the greatest player of all-time in more than one sport, as many fans of both lacrosse and football would claim that Brown was the greatest ever to play either game.
While most of Brown’s NFL records have been broken by players who sustained longer – though mostly less spectacular – careers, his lasting impact on lacrosse is undeniable. The NCAA famously changed their rules to forbid players from using body parts to trap the ball in their stick because when he put his stick to his chest, no one could stop the 6’2”, 230 lb Brown from going wherever he wanted on the field.
It should come as no surprise that the Lizards were fired up after hearing Brown’s pre-game speech.
“We were kicking the doors down out of the locker room [after the speech]” Gurenlian said. “You don’t lose in front of Jim Brown.If he comes into the stands after giving you a pregame speech, you better win. I think about 10% of our excitement was from fear; we didn’t want to let him down.”
The Lizards did not disappoint their celebrity owner, blasting the Machine 20-10 with Brown looking on from the stands.
Ideally Brown’s presence on Long Island will provide more than just motivation to the Lizards, but for one night, a few minutes was enough for Jim Brown to make an impression on his new team.
Video by Daniel Fisher