BEREA — Brian Sipe didn’t attend his first Browns practice since he retired from professional football in 1985 to give Baker Mayfield advice.

A quarterback for the Browns from 1974-83, Sipe said Mayfield can get that from his position coach Ryan Lindley, whom Sipe coached for three years at San Diego State.

“Ryan knows everything I know and more,” Sipe said.

The NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and the Browns are bringing in 30 players for sit-down interviews that will be archived. On Saturday, Sipe was joined at practice by teammates Jerry Sherk and Robert E. Jackson, while Tim Couch, the No. 1 overall pick in 1999, returned for a second day.

As the session concluded, coach Freddie Kitchens invited Sipe, Sherk and Jackson into the huddle to speak to the team.

Sipe, who turns 70 on Aug. 8, and running back Jim Brown are the only two Browns to have received the NFL Most Valuable Player award. Sipe was honored in 1980, when he recorded an NFL-best 91.4 passer rating and set franchise records for passing yards (4,132) and touchdowns (30). Sherk, 71, a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the Browns from 1970-81, was named the league’s defensive player of the year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1976. Jackson, 66, played guard for the Browns from 1975-85 despite going undrafted through 17 rounds.

“That’s the Cleveland Browns, that’s the history,” Kitchens said, recalling the highlights of the three players’ careers. “I want these guys to know about the history of the Browns. They can see the fans, they can see the passion that the fans bring, but sometimes it’s harder for them to get a feeling for the people that have come before them.

"They’re all wearing the same brown and orange and they’re still with us in a sense.”

Sipe is a grandfather of 10 and said all live close to him and his wife, Jeri, in the San Diego area. So while the Sipes still own a home in Montana, they don’t stay there for long.

Asked if he still watches the Browns, Sipe said: “Sure, I have to now. All my grandkids, they want coach Papa around.” He hopes all six of his grandsons will play football, with their parents already on board.

Sipe said he first watched Mayfield during a University of Oklahoma bowl game, but he didn’t expect the Browns to take Mayfield first overall in 2018.

“I was surprised. But obviously they saw something,” Sipe said. “I didn’t do homework like these guys. I’ve been away from football.”

When he was selected, Mayfield (6-foot-1 and 215 pounds) drew comparisons to Sipe, 6-1 and 195.

“I bet he’s bigger than me. He’s definitely more yoked than I,” Sipe said.

Even though he led the Browns through their Kardiac Kids heyday, Sipe didn’t plan to tell Mayfield how to handle the great expectations of this season. Serving as quarterbacks coach at his alma mater San Diego State from 2009-14, Sipe believes Mayfield is in the capable hands of Lindley, who also played for and coached with Kitchens with the Arizona Cardinals. From the three years Sipe spent with Lindley at SDSU, Sipe believes Lindley has the potential to be a head coach.

“He could be if he wants to. It’s going to take time, he’s still young,” Sipe said of Lindley, 30. “He was absolutely perfect as a quarterback in terms of preparation, leadership, all the intangible things I think would translate into being a great head coach. He’s organized, he worked hard, he’s a terrific guy. I think Baker’s lucky to have him.”

 

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.