BEACHWOOD, Ohio — Earl Wilson Jr., an avid Browns fan and patient transporter at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, was surprised with a very special thank you gift from a member of the Browns organization, who went out of his way to make sure Wilson received it.
A few weeks ago, Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell underwent a procedure at University Hospitals. After he was recovered enough to return home, Wilson was sent up to his room to prepare him for discharge.
Wilson said he recognized the name on the chart but wasn’t sure—until he saw him and his iconic beard.
“That’s the first indication that I knew it was him, was I saw the beard,” Wilson said with a smile. “He’s pretty much a figurehead, and then he coaches Kareem [Hunt] and Nick [Chubb] so I’m very well versed in who he is.”
Not wanting to bother him too much, Wilson said he kept the conversation casual, despite his excitement to be talking to a member of his favorite team.
“I go in and say ‘How’re you doing sir.’ I give him my name, the usual we give when we go see the patients,” Wilson said.
The small talk between Wilson and Stump progressed into Browns talk after Wilson complimented Mitchell’s shoes, which bore the Browns’ color scheme.
“I said ‘They kind of remind me of my favorite football team,’’ and he said ‘Oh, who’s that?’ and I was like, ‘The Cleveland Browns,’” Wilson recounted. “I said ‘Sometimes I feel like I’m too much of a fan’ and we both chuckled a little bit.”
Wilson transported Mitchell out of the hospital and sent him home with his family, handing over Mitchell’s bookbag with the nameplate “STUMP” on it, knowing he had just met the Browns' running backs coach.
Excited to have met someone he holds in high regards, Wilson shared on social media that he had just met Mitchell and how excited he was to have interacted with him, even if only briefly.
That small interaction was enough to leave an impression on Mitchell, who somehow found Wilson on Instagram and reached out so say thank you.
Mitchell thanked Wilson for being a fan and for taking care of him that day at the hospital by surprising him with a package of Browns gear shipped to Wilson’s home.
“I have no idea how he found me, how he got my information or any of that but he got ahold of me and told me he would be sending me some things,” Wilson said. “I greatly appreciated that.”
Wilson opened the package to find a few Browns hats, a Browns hoodie and a Browns sweater—but the messages from Mitchell carried the most weight for Wilson.
“When I got the message I was at work and I kind of screamed a little bit in the hallway. I was by myself, I’m glad nobody saw me because I was like ‘Wow! This is amazing,’” Wilson laughed.
Although they didn’t have a long interaction, it was one that was memorable for both Wilson and Mitchell—although Wilson may have had a little more to say if the situation was any different.
“He told me that he didn’t talk more because he was out of it,” Wilson said. “That’s why I told him I didn’t go all ‘groupie’ on him and ask him a bunch of questions because you know how us Cleveland Browns fans can get, we can just get to rambling on, and on, and on.”
Wilson will wear his new Browns gear with pride, looking forward to the upcoming Browns season and forever grateful for Mitchell's kind and surprising gesture.