CLEVELAND — Browns tight end Pharaoh Brown grew up in Lyndhurst, so he’s no stranger to Cleveland, but he never believed he would end up playing for his home team. Now, with David Njoku out with a wrist injury, Brown has the chance at a bigger role than he’s ever had before.
Northeast Ohio born and raised
Brown grew up in Lyndhurst, a suburb of Cleveland, where he played both football and basketball at Brush High School. He grew up watching Cleveland sports. With his basketball roots, it’s no shock who Brown grew up idolizing.
“I’m a LeBron James fan, so I liked the Cavs [growing up],” Brown said.
While he loved watching the Cavs play, he also grew up watching the Browns, but he never dreamed he’d end up playing for them.
“It’s kind of like a dream come true, and it just happened organically,” Brown said.
Like James, Brown has embraced the chance to be a hometown hero and said his family is at every game.
“It’s been awesome being back home with my family and everybody in the community, everybody can see me. It gives them a sense of hope—a sense that they can do it as well,” Brown said.
With his family’s support, the Cleveland native will look to inspire Northeast Ohio as he is presented with the opportunity for more on-field action Sunday night.
Next man up
Njoku, the starting tight end, went down after a hard hit in the first quarter against the Jets on Monday night. He was taken out of the game and evaluated for a concussion, and it was later determined his wrist might have been broken. The Browns placed him on injured reserve Friday, ruling him out a minimum of eight weeks.
While Njoku recovers, it’s next man up for the Browns at the tight end position, and among the options is Brown, who, full of Cleveland grit and determination, said he’s up for the challenge and the competition to land that bigger role.
Brown said he is close with the other tight ends on the roster. Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones share Brown’s passion are both skilled players.
Harris, who played for five seasons with the Chiefs before being signed by the Browns as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has played in 71 career games with 33 starts. Harris has recorded 57 receptions for 605 yards and six touchdowns.
Seals-Jones, a pass-catching tight end claimed off waivers by the Browns on Sept. 1, played in 25 games with the Cardinals with six starts. In that time he recorded 46 receptions for 544 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think our tight end room is a passionate group. We’re all pretty close, but we’re all pretty competitive at the same time. We all know that we all compete against each other,” Brown said. “To me, I don’t want to be in a room with people not competing. Everybody’s hungry. You want to play.”
Something to prove
A serious injury in college once created uncertainty surrounding his future in football but is now helping fuel Brown’s competitive nature.
While playing for the University of Oregon, Brown stepped on a teammate's foot in a 2014 game against Utah. As a result, Brown tore two ligaments in his knee, which caused a stretched artery that restricted blood flow to his leg.
The injury was so severe doctors considered amputation.
Brown was able to have emergency surgery, his leg was saved, but he missed the entire 2015 season. Since the injury, Brown has used the adversity surrounding his career as motivation.
“It adds to the chip on my shoulder for sure,” Brown said.
The Oakland Raiders drafted him in 2017, and he played just two games. Since then, he’s been itching for the opportunity to prove himself. After being waived by Oakland, Brown was signed off waivers to the Browns practice squad in 2018.
Now a year later, Brown has his chance to shine on Sunday night against the Rams in front of a national audience.
DAWG POUND!!!!— Pharaoh Brown (@PharaohsDream) December 16, 2018
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Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.