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History in Art

Postby slowkidz » Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:44 pm

Mural provides history lesson
By Steve King, Associate Editor
October 28, 2004


The weekend to honor the Browns' 1964 NFL
championship team has come and gone, but a
tangible memory of those players and that club -
and other notable ones during the years -
remains.

It's on the wall of the hallway leading to the
home locker room at Cleveland Browns Stadium. The
wall, approximately 10 feet high and 40 feet
long, is adorned with what could best be
described as a thin wallpaper consisting of a
college of photos.

Entering the hall off the field, the latter years
of the Browns are featured first. The scenes
gradually work backward in time all the way to
the creation of the team in 1946. Then there is
the door leading into the locker room itself.
When the players come out of the locker room and
head out toward the field, the timeline is
obviously reversed. It gives them a glimpse into
what the club is all about - now and then.

The Browns have transformed an otherwise bland,
mostly white wall into an eye-catching historical
display that was unveiled Sunday in the 20-3
season-opening win over the Baltimore Ravens.

"Butch (Davis, Browns coach) called it bringing
the hallway to life," Browns vice president in
charge of operations Bill Hampton said Thursday.

It worked.

"Aren't those awesome?" Davis said. "It blew me
away. You stopped and looked at it like you were
in a museum.

"We wanted to try and make the locker room like a
home locker room. The locker room was kind of
sterile, and we wanted to make the locker room
the Cleveland Browns' locker room. We talked
about putting murals on the wall. We wanted to
have a dramatic effect for week one. The players
loved it."

Davis credits Hampton and owner Randy Lerner for
the project. Hampton credits Davis and Lerner.
The reality of it is that all three played a
major part, as did training facility manager Greg
Hipp and Jennifer Nawalaniec, an assistant in
business operations.

According to Hampton, Lerner and Davis take some
time in the offseason each year to go to Browns
Stadium "and try to find ways to make it more
fan-friendly and player- and coach-friendly."
Improvements have been made through the years,
but none have been as the latest one.

"In their travels, Coach and Randy saw some
visuals with individual photos and liked them,"
Hampton said. "Then they sat down with Greg and
Jennifer to see what could be done."

Hipp and Nawalaniec took it from there, meeting
with a Cleveland area company that does that type
of thing.

"You give them the images you want to use and
they make a collage of it," Hampton said. "Then
they give their idea to you to proof. They take
your selection and make a mural."

The mural is just a continuation of the Browns'
efforts to re-connect with their past.

"The intent was to honor the past and our
tradition and carry that forward into the
future," Hampton said. "We wanted to let everyone
on the team know, 'You're part of something.' I'm
proud of the work that Greg and Jenny did. Just
like everyone else, I was very pleased with how
it all came out. We wanted something that was big
and vibrant, and we got it."

Other projects are in the works as well for the
stadium. Some of them, the fans will notice. Some
of them will be for the players. And some of them
will be for both.

"We want to take Browns Stadium and make it like
home," Hampton said. "We want to make it like it
here at the facility."

The fact the Browns are 1-0 at home with their
new locker room wall - and were 11-29 without it
the previous five seasons - isn't being openly
discussed. However, the Browns are hoping it
helped to finally bring some good karma to Browns
Stadium.

It has added a whole new meaning to the old
saying, "If those walls could talk." They are
now.
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