Browns notes: Joel Bitonio's grandma is trying to get him to the Pro Bowl

League modifies Rooney rule, Baker Mayfield gives back in big way

Daryl Ruiter
December 12, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports


Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) It could be argued that Browns left guard Joel Bitonio is having a Pro Bowl season.

His grandmother certainly thinks so, and she’s doing all she can to make sure he gets a bid this year too.

“My grandma really wants me to go,” Bitonio said. “She thinks I’m a good player, so that’s big. She votes a lot.”

Jan Akin, who lives in Durango, Colorado will get an in-person evaluation of her grandson by taking time away from voting to attend Saturday night’s game featuring Bitonio and his teammates against the Broncos as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive with a victory.

“She votes a lot,” Bitonio said. “She hasn’t given me an update, but she’s retired. She does her thing and she knows how to work the computer and she stuffs the ballot box.” ranks Bitonio sixth overall among guards leaguewide and the second-best pass blocker among guards in the league.

“It’s a cool thing,” Bitonio said. “It’s something your competitors, the fans, if they vote you in that’s a cool honor. It’s something you’ll look back at and appreciate.”

Fans can vote online at or on Twitter by tweeting the first and last name of the player, the player’s official Twitter handle, or a hashtag including the player’s first and last name along with the hashtag: #ProBowlVote.

Fan voting, which ends Dec. 13, counts for 1/3rd of the process. Players and coaches’ votes count for 1/3rd as well. The final Pro Bowl rosters will be announced on Tuesday, December 18.

Rooney rule changes – In an effort to prevent clubs from skirting the Rooney rule, the league took steps Wednesday at the league meetings in Dallas to strengthen it.

"Since the inception of the Rooney Rule, we have seen the rule adopted across business sectors and considered an industry best practice to increase diversity," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "The policy updates made today will bolster the current Rooney Rule requirements and are intended to create additional opportunities for diverse candidates to be identified, interviewed, and ultimately hired when a vacancy becomes available."

The updates are as follows:

1. Clubs must interview at least one diverse candidate from the Career Development Advisory Panel list or a diverse candidate not currently employed by the club;

2. Clubs must continue best practice recommendation of considering multiple diverse candidates;

3. Clubs must maintain complete records and furnish to the league upon Commissioner's request; and

4. If final decision-maker is involved in the beginning, he/she must be involved through the conclusion of the process.

Adopted in 2003, the Rooney Rule is an NFL policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates. In 2009, the Rooney Rule was expanded to include general manager jobs and equivalent front office positions. The Rooney Rule is named after the late former Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the league's diversity committee, Dan Rooney.

Champions tour – The Browns welcomed the captains and coaches from the five northeast Ohio state champion football teams on Wednesday – Div. 1 St. Edward’s, Div. II Akron Hoban, Div. III Kenston, Div. V Orrville and Div. VI Kirtland.

The players and coaches got to peek in on practice and took a behind the scenes tour of the facility.

Season of giving – Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield was responsible for at least $110,000 of the monies raised Tuesday night at the Providence House dinner and fundraiser held at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Mayfield donated one of his shoes from the ‘My cause, my cleats’ campaign featuring Providence House to the silent auction, which went for $14,000.

Mayfield also donated an experience for auction that started off as a dinner for 4 with him and his fiancé but as the auction went on, it turned into a dinner for 6 that went for $32,000. Just for fun 2 others matched the bid and Mayfield and his fiancé agreed to dine separately with them as well.

In addition to his own generosity, Mayfield also purchased a guitar that was played and signed by Prince in the live auction.

Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Browns

Injury report – DNP: CB Denzel Ward (concussion), C JC Tretter (ankle), TE Orson Charles (ankle), OL Austin Corbett (foot)

Limited: DT Larry Ogunjobi (bicep), DB Phillip Gaines (knee)

Full: CB Justin Burris (shoulder), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), CB Terrance Mitchell (wrist), TE David Njoku (knee), LB Joe Schobert (knee), DB Tavierre Thomas (abdomen), DL Brian Price (Achilles)