Several Browns players were relieved this afternoon to be able to talk about the team’s flight landing safely Sunday night at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport despite a rough landing in bad weather.
“It was pretty bad,” wide receiver Davone Bess said. “But we're here today to talk about it and can thank the man upstairs.”
The Browns (4-6) rushed out of Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday evening following their 41-20 loss to the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (7-4), so they could try to fly home from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport before severe thunderstorms would prevent them from doing so. The team made contingency plans to take busses back to Northeast Ohio but opted to take its charter flight on United Airlines.
The flight was short, but players said the descent into Cleveland was turbulent and the landing was frightening because the plane tilted to the left as it touched down.
“Holy cow – I swear the wing was a couple feet from the ground, defensive end Billy Winn said. “At the last second, it was dead quiet right before the landing. We’re going to land, it got real quiet, and I heard this big gust of wind and [the plane tilted], came back and we recovered. We had a great pilot, a fantastic pilot. Bless his heart for getting here safely.”
Tight end Jordan Cameron said the concern among players was obvious.
“Everyone was freaking out,” Cameron said. “I didn’t think it was that bad. There was some turbulence, but it wasn’t too serious, at least I thought so. Some guys were calling their moms after the flight.”
Some players thought the landing was a closer call than others.
“If they said it wasn’t that bad, they’re lying to you,” Winn said. “It was a little rough.”
Coach Rob Chudzinski said he was more wrapped up in reviewing the Browns’ loss to the Bengals than worrying about the landing.
“It was just a rough landing,” Chudzinski said. “I was watching tape, and was pretty engrossed in that on the way back.”
Others couldn’t ignore what happened.
“I have been a part of some sketchy landings and that was interesting,” long snapper Christian Yount said. “But the pilots did a good job, and we're here now.”
Rookie linebacker Brandon Magee declined to take the flight home in the stormy skies. He made the trip back on the highway with the team’s equipment crew, and his teammates didn’t blame him.
“I hate flying,” Winn said. “I can’t stand it, but I will. I do my whole ritual, whatever it might be. I tap my leg, tap my foot, but I can fly. I’d rather drive.
“I actually enjoyed [flying] in college. I loved flying. I guess I kind of accepted the reality I’m not invincible anymore. It kind of got me.”
As Winn told reporters about being scared during the flight, outside linebacker Paul Kruger chimed in, “Billy was shaking like a little girl.”
Winn wasn’t offended by the joke. He was just glad to be OK.
“When guys got their feet on the ground, it was more relief,” Winn said. “It was a little rough up there with the dropping and the turbulence.”
Shortly after landing, guard Jason Pinkston wrote the following on Twitter at 6:40 p.m. Sunday: “Omg thank you Lord thank you.” At 6:47 p.m., he wrote, “Landed on two wheels right wing should of hit the ground plane [darn] near rolled over.”