New Browns coach Pat Shurmur got a glimpse of the fans' passion Monday night during the 31st annual Akron Browns Backers banquet at Tangier restaurant.
And he nearly had to use former coach Sam Rutigliano's cane in the process.
When Shurmur took questions from the crowd of about 500, one white-haired gentleman got up from his seat at the back of the hall and approached the head table, where Shurmur was sitting next to Rutigliano. Rutigliano had knee replacement surgery about five weeks ago and had a cane at his side.
The man was still livid over the Browns' use of what he called a ''preventative'' defense, which I assume was a reference to ''The Drive'' orchestrated by John Elway in the 1986 AFC Championship game. The man said he was so livid afterward that he drove all the way to Erie, Pa., and he lives in Bath, Ohio.
Feeling a little threatened as the still-angry fan approached so his question could be heard, Shurmur jokingly grabbed for Rutigliano's cane. Shurmur had little response to the man's mini-tirade, saying ''I'd call that a comment.''
Shurmur revealed little during his time at the dias as the featured speaker. Asked if he would smile, a reference to dour-faced Browns coaches Bill Belichick, Eric Mangini and for the most part Romeo Crennel, Shurmur said, "I'll smile when we win.''
Shurmur also expressed his hope that the Browns would ''play fast.'' He said he would not preach incessantly about making mistakes because that usually prompts players to make them.
"Play fast, throw caution to the wind, get good players in here and let's go,'' Shurmur said.
He gave no hint of whether the Browns would be a run-first or pass-first team.
"Be efficient throwing the football and effective running it,'' he said. "Attack defenses with what we do well and make 'em stop us.''
Asked if the Browns could throw caution to the wind and run the ball down the Steelers' throat, Shurmur said, ''That's a comment. Absolutely.''