G Joel Bitonio (12.8.22)


On being the Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year:

“It was pretty special. It is one of those things you see guys win the award for the team every year, and they do a lot of good things in the community. The Browns and Browns Give Back do a great job of encouraging guys to get out in the community. To see that award over the years and finally get it myself, it is pretty special. My mom was here. I knew she was here but then they kind of left and surprised me and let me know I won it. That was pretty special. It is a very cool honor. I was extremely honored to be it for the Browns.”


On how long it took him to get acclimated to and settled into Cleveland when being drafted by the Browns:

“It wasn’t too bad. I feel like Cleveland has always accepted me since I got here. I have been on the west coast my whole life in California and Nevada and then coming out to Cleveland. It is a big jump and just a different way of life. What really got me was the eastern time zone of games starting so late and stuff like really messed me up. The people have always been accepting to me. Me and my wife have always loved it here. It has been awesome. The community has always supported us, and it is easy for me to go back and support the community when we can.”


On when in his career he realized the significance of ultimately being named the Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year, given most NFL players enter the league seeking Pro Bowls and Super Bowls:

“I think it does take a few years. You hear about it, but you don’t really understand it. You see some of the guys who have won the award… All of the teams are doing great work, but the guys who win the national award have done some amazing charitable work. I think the older you get in the league, the more you realize you have a pretty big platform here financially, with name recognition and the team backing. For you to be able to go out and do community work and stuff, I think it just goes [a long way]. I don’t think you ever do it to be like, ‘Oh, I want to win this award,’ or anything like that, but if you get the recognition for it, I think it is something you build your platform on and help use the money to help other foundations that mean a lot in your life.”


On confidence QB Deshaun Watson can shake off rust and improve from last week’s performance:

“I was thinking about it, and I was like, ‘700 days is a long time to not play a football game at full speed.’ You don’t get hit in practice. You don’t feel the pressure as much. There are going to be pressure moments and stuff like that. I have seen him play at a high, high level before. I think the rust coming off is not going to be a question of if he ever does, it is just going to be when. It might take a little while to get used to it and get used to the scheme and the players you are playing with. All of that stuff, everything is new to him. I think we understood where we are. I was very happy to get the win because the defense and special teams really stepped up for us, and it was really a team effort in that. We have all of the confidence in him. We know he is a great player. We know it is going to happen. It just takes some time sometimes.”


On adjustments with the transition to Watson from QB Jacoby Brissett:

“You have different cadences, just their voices and stuff like that, and we have some different scheme stuff. If you watch the tape, there are some read-options, some RPO stuff and some things that we haven’t done, quarterback runs. Different things like that so there are some different schemes in it for us, and I think it is for the skill guys getting used to how he throws the ball, the timing of the routes and all of that stuff is definitely more difficult than for the line to kind of get used to it.”


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