Members of the Cleveland Browns aren’t the only players and coaches who will be watched closely by incoming club president Mike Holmgren.
Take quarterback Charlie Frye, for instance.
Frye played nearly all of the 2007 season and 2008 with the Seattle Seahawks under Holmgren, remade his game, and gets his second start with the Raiders Sunday at Browns Stadium.
With Holmgren having already determined he would retire at the end of the season with Jim Mora taking over, Frye said Holmgren called him with words of advice for his career.
“He was like, `You’ve taken all you can from here, because (my contract) was up at the end of the season,” Frye told the Cleveland media by conference call. “He said, `You need to go teach somebody else what you’ve learned here or go out and do it yourself.’ That was pretty special for him to say that to me.”
So Frye ended up doing both. JaMarcus Russell singled out Frye as the veteran who was giving him the most good advice as he struggled. Frye also was a fixture at the facility on Tuesdays, getting in early, staying late, helping with game plans like the coach he will eventually become.
Now he’s the starter for the second week in a row, recovering from a concussion which knocked him out of a 20-19 win over Denver.
“I’ve always been a ball player,” Frye said. “I don’t get caught up in all the off the field activities and the other stuff. I love the game. That will never change. When the time comes _ `Charlie, you can’t play anymore’ _ I’ll coach. I’ll always be involved in the game of football because that’s what I love to do.”
No one is quite sure how Holmgren is going to shape the Browns. None of the coaching staff knows their status, there’s still speculation that Holmgren could do the coaching himself. But if Holmgren were to beckon Frye as a mentor/backup quarterback, it’s clear Frye would listen.
Like Bruce Gradkowski, Frye is in Oakland on a one-year contract, and there would appear to be at least an outside chance of the Raiders parting ways with Russell as well if they determine he simply isn’t going to do everything it takes to be the team’s leader and franchise player on the field, off the field and during the week.
“I don’t know how those decisions are made or who makes them,” Frye said. “Anybody who has played for him would love to be back with him. That’s how great a person he is. That stuff is really out of your hands, and I really like it out here.”
Frye is philosophical about returning to a state where he went to college at Akron, as well as where he got his start as an NFL contract, which included the dubious distinction of being the first Week 1 starter at his position to be traded to another team before Week 2. He was dealt for a sixth-round draft pick and replaced by Derek Anderson _ who coincidentally will start for the Browns Sunday with Brady Quinn having gone on injured reserve with a foot injury.
“There’s nothing in the world that can prepare you for that because it’s so unexpected,” Frye said. “To be the first guy that’s ever happened to is pretty unreal, but coach Holmgren told me when I got to Seattle it’s all about how you respond and that’s how the rest of your career will go.”
Like Gradkowski against Pittsburgh, Frye will have a large contingent of fans rooting him on, but plans on putting the location out of his mind in favor of the big picture.
“The game is bigger than anybody,” Frye said. “It will always move in. It moved on when the greatest players retired. That’s the way I look at it. It’s a chance for us to win more games since (the Raiders have) since 2002. It’s a chance for us to win two in a row. There are a lot bigger things than what I want to do.”
The Browns announced announced a sellout today to avoid their first local black out since 1995. They needed a 48-hour extension to get the tickets sold.
The Sunday weather report calls for temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees with snow flurries.