Showing His True Colors

If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns, might we suggest you pick up a copy of the July 8 edition of ESPN The Magazine, turn to Page 4 and closely examine the color photograph that dominates it.

Taken by Joe Faraoni of ESPN Images as part of the magazine’s regular “Insider Spotlight,” the picture showcases Browns’ memorabilia on office walls, on a bookcase and lining a desk. The most visibly prominent player on display is former Cleveland quarterback Bernie Kosar, who is featured in posters, framed photographs and a life-size Fathead wall decal.

Closer inspection finds a special affection for former NFL running back and Major League outfielder Bo Jackson, and the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres. Still, it’s abundantly clear that the Browns are the overwhelming team of choice for Matt Weimer. Weimer is the owner of all the collectibles and ESPN’s associate director of media planning and scheduling, who stands in the middle of Faraoni’s photo.

Not surprisingly, given his lifelong love for the Browns, the 38-year-old Jamestown native proudly wears burnt orange, seal brown and white Zubaz pants, matching Crox shoes – one brown, one orange – and a Cleveland jersey, all while pointing a Browns’ foam finger, measuring 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide, at the camera.

“I wore that exact same outfit on the train to a staff meeting in New York City,” the Plainville, Conn., resident said. “The theme (of the meeting) was ‘showing your fandom.”’

Although the train from New Haven, Conn., to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan was – in Weimer’s words – “packed,” the 1993 Jamestown High School graduate was quite comfortable.

“No one sat next to me,” he said with a laugh.

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Weimer, his wife Lorrie and their two children, 7-year-old Zoe and 5-year-old Paige, live a short commute from Bristol, where ESPN’s corporate headquarters are located.

As the associate director of media planning and scheduling, Weimer, a graduate of Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia, oversees the placement of promotion of ESPN events on all of its domestic networks and ESPN Radio.

“It’s a challenging job,” he admitted.

An ESPN staffer since 1997, Weimer was promoted to his current position in March of 2012, and with the promotion came an office. About that same time, Zoe and Paige needed a playroom. So dear, old dad turned his home office (a.k.a. Browns man cave) into a place for the girls’ dolls and dress-up clothes.

As for the memorabilia?

“Instead of it sitting in boxes at my house,” Weimer said, “why not take it to a place I spend most of my day?”

So beginning with a couple of bags a day, Weimer gathered up his treasured belongings and transported them to his ESPN office.

“I started with just the stuff on the walls,” he said.

Eight weeks later, the “move” was complete.

“Most people find (the decorating) favorable,” Weimer said.

When Mary Sheehan, ESPN’s senior director of media planning and scheduling and Weimer’s boss, paid a visit to Bristol, her assessment was short and to the point.

“The first time she walked into my office, she said, ‘It looks like the city of Cleveland threw up in here,”’ Weimer said. “She meant that in a good way.”

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Weimer, the son of Richard and Sandy Weimer, has always been a fan of the Cleveland Browns, dating back to his days growing up on Jamestown’s south side in the 1980s.

“I’m an eternal optimist, sometimes to my detriment,” he admitted.

With no prodding, he can tell you the following factoids about his beloved NFL team:

His favorite player: Linebacker Clay Matthews (“His durability and the fact he played for them for so long.”)

His favorite memory: “Brian Brennan catching a touchdown pass with 5:43 left in the 1986 AFC Championship Game (against Denver). I thought for sure they were going to the Super Bowl. Then, ‘The Drive’ happened.”

Don’t mention John Elway, please.

The Jan. 7, 1990, AFC divisional playoff game against Buffalo in which the Browns won, 34-30: “That was kind of the downfall of the Browns. They were an older team at that point and they (ultimately) fell apart. The Bills kind of took off after that. It was a pendulum swing for both teams.”

Since that epic game more than two decades ago, Weimer has seen his beloved team move to Baltimore and eventually be reborn in Cleveland, only to frustrate its devoted fan base with, generally speaking, mediocre play ever since.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad football,” he said.

Asked whether his daughters have been caught up in his Browns-mania, Weimer said, “I don’t think it really registers with them yet.

“I can’t hold their attention with much of anything for more than a few minutes, so to have them sit down for a 3-hour football game is a challenge.”

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The photo of Weimer’s office only shows one corner of the room. Among his other personal memorabilia favorites that adorn the remaining walls are a 1981 Jamestown Babe Ruth World Series pennant; a 1967 Buffalo Bills pennant; and collectibles from the Cleveland Indians. As for the response he’s received from the magazine photoshoot, Weimer said, “I would say there are a lot more people who get the magazine than I thought. I’ve heard from a lot of people. It hasn’t been overwhelming, but it’s a little more than I expected.”