As NFL camps open, the Cleveland Browns ponder the quarterback situation and the Cincinnati Bengals have really cool, new white helmets and are looking for someone to buy the naming rights to Paul Brown Stadium. That’s two very different worlds.
We could sit here and contemplate all the career changing moves and depth chart struggles to see who will play where for either team. We could talk about Deshaun Watson’s contract and how it looks compared to Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray’s, and what it means for the Bengals’ Joe Burrow in the future. But, there is only one place we can talk about the obvious story for this paper.
The Browns have a Jewish quarterback.
Let that sink in.
I’m not sure what role Josh Rosen will play on the team. But, not since Al Rosen won the American League MVP in 1953 have Cleveland-area Jews been this interested. Yes, I know Omri Casspi played for the Cavaliers and the Browns had kicker Greg Joseph and offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz. I’m sure there are others, but let’s face it, this is our modern-day Sid Luckman.
The numbers are small in the NFL, but every time a player like Julian Edelman comes along, there is a little of puff of chest pride when you have a Jewish football player who can stand out. It’s like he’s automatically your cousin because he’s Jewish. It’s a cool bonding feeling knowing that player maybe had a bar mitzvah, and now you are tight with him because you can talk about your Torah portion with him – if you ever meet him.
But, let’s be really honest. It’s the fact that football is the biggest sport in the country. Millions of people watch it each weekend. Jewish people generally root for Jewish players.
My great-grandfather, who barely spoke English, knew one player, and nothing about baseball. He knew Al Rosen was a ballplayer for the Indians. It was a special moment for him to talk to my dad about him. Little did he realize what a big bonding moment it was for my father.
I have one burning question for Josh Rosen. How did you convince your mother to let you play football in the first place?
I am stereotyping. I raise my hand. I confess.
The biggest accomplishment any Jewish football player can reach is not getting a bust and yellow jacket at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. It is walking out the front door as a teenager past their mom with a helmet in hand to go to practice.
Bravo, Josh Rosen.
My telephone was blowing up when the Browns signed Rosen as a backup despite most fans wondering if he can play. This is his sixth team since 2018. I’m wondering how he got past the look of death I got from my mom when I told her that her grandson was playing high school football this season.
To be fair, the stereotype is not just for moms. Shortly before my brother’s passing 17 years ago, my nephew wanted to play football at Solon High School. I remember sitting at the table, making a case for him to play with my brother. His response was the same as my mother’s. He then lectured me on how much he spent on braces. It was another great moment in Baskin history.
I’m not sure how he did it, but my nephew convinced his mom to let him play for the Solon Comets. I am really proud of him to this day for that accomplishment. His teeth are still straight in case you are wondering and it was a great experience that still pays off for him today.
This brings me back to my father. He let me play football my freshman year. A fact my mom, who is sharp as a tack at 85 years old, seems to have selective memory loss. She tells me I didn’t play. I tell her she must have been working. Her old-school thinking has her thinking, “What Jewish mother would put their child in harm’s way by playing football?” While thinking that she did, and she forgot. I will remind her when Josh Rosen takes a snap, that Mrs. Rosen did.