CLEVELAND – “Do you get along with the people you play with?” “
âWhat do you do when one of your teammates makes a mistake? “
âAre you the greatest player?
“What is your dream?”
It was a Christmas rally, so Browns defensive tackle Malik McDowell wasn’t expecting some of the tough questions he asked the Cleveland Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio on Monday.
âI’m like, ‘You all come up with real questions.’ Some of them caught me off guard, âhe said afterwards.
One of them could have been the question of how to handle a mistake, but club manager Joseph Greathouse was so impressed with McDowell’s response that he stepped in to push it further.
âYou have to control your emotions,â McDowell told the kids. “We take the blame as a whole.”
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In his first season with the Browns, McDowell hosted the event which was attended by around 50 kids. Before handing out gifts, signing soccer balls, posing for photos and playing wrestling, he told an attentive group sitting in the gymnasium bleachers that he had started attending a Boys & Girls center. Clubs in Detroit when he was 5 and continued until he was 11 or 12.
“It brought back a lot of good memories,” he told them.
McDowell, 25, hasn’t told the story of the off-pitch woes that nearly derailed his career. The Seattle Seahawks’ 2017 second-round pick in Michigan, McDowell’s life spiraled out of control after sustaining a brain injury in an ATV crash as an NFL rookie.
In February 2019, McDowell got into an altercation with police and was charged with assault, resisting arrest and driving a vehicle while intoxicated. In April, police found a stolen car in McDowell’s possession. He was sentenced to 11 months in prison in Michigan.
When asked when he started playing for the Browns, McDowell replied that he had been elsewhere before coming to Cleveland, “but that’s another story for another day.”
He didn’t hold back when asked about his dream.
“My dream is to one day enter the Hall of Fame,” he said.
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McDowell hadn’t played football since 2016, when he signed a one-year contract with the Browns on May 3, but said, âI’m back. I feel like I’ve never run out of time now.
âIt took a few games just to get used to having a routine. I’m back now. I’m back.”
If the Browns choose to re-sign the defensive tackle that started 12 of his 13 games played, McDowell looked to be back at the club in the heart of Cleveland.
âThat’s exactly how it was, everyone in the gym, everyone shouting and having fun,â McDowell said. âIt’s just a good environment. Have people here like [Greathouse], they help you become good people. You learn great things at the Boys & Girls Club and you just need it.
âI got really involved, playing with the kids and everything. I don’t know how to explain it, but it made me happy, I can say it.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.