QB Quinn ends up in Cleveland

BEREA, Ohio – Brady Quinn stepped out from behind the black limousine’s tinted windows into brilliant Sunday sunshine. He wore blue jeans, a zippered windbreaker and a Browns baseball cap.

He was dressed casually, if not for the occasion.

“I think he was just worn out from wearing that suit all day yesterday,” said tackle Joe Thomas, Quinn’s new teammate.

One day after his stunning slide in the first round became the biggest story of the NFL draft, Quinn began a new chapter in his storied football career.

Passed over by 20 other teams, Quinn was introduced at a news conference by the Browns, the team he dreamed of playing for as a kid and the one who passed over him to take Thomas at No. 3 before trading up to select Notre Dame’s golden-armed quarterback.

Quinn spent four agonizing hours Saturday waiting in the wings at Radio City Music Hall for his name to be called. With national TV cameras trained on him sitting backstage, he smiled and tried to make the best of an awkward situation as team after team chose other players.

Booed at first, the draftniks on hand in New York began to sympathize with Quinn as the clock painfully ticked on.

“It’s the Notre Dame quarterback thing, love ’em or hate ’em,” Quinn said.

The biggest day of his life quickly became a nightmare for the 22-year-old, who ran around his backyard as a boy pretending he was Browns iconic QB Bernie Kosar slinging touchdown passes in front of an imaginary Dawg Pound.

But just when it couldn’t get bleaker, the Browns saved Quinn. They gave Dallas a second-round pick this year and first-round pick in 2008 to move up and take Quinn with the 22nd pick.

Now, it’s Quinn’s turn to save the Browns, who have been mostly luckless losers in the eight years since their expansion return.

He’s ready for the challenge.

“I’m accustomed to coming into a new situation and changing the attitudes and the way people think,” he said. “I want to change the way people feel in the fourth quarter when there are two minutes left and we have the ball at the 20. I think it’s a big thing that people don’t understand.

“You have to keep believing. It’s never OK to lose.”

Quinn’s free fall through the first round may have damaged more than his reputation. It likely cost him more than $25 million in guaranteed money, a fact he dismissed as easily as sidestepping a blitzing linebacker.

“If you are successful in the NFL, you’re going to make money,” he said. “It’s not a big deal. I’m not a guy who comes from a lot of money. I’m a blue-collar, hardworking kid and for me it’s a dream to be drafted in the first round.”

Quinn came to yesterday’s affair not thinking he needed to dress up. But when he saw Thomas, who skipped a draft-day trip to New York to go fishing, in a pinstriped suit, Quinn broke out a sport coat, slacks and tie.

His decision to change delayed the news conference.

“We thought it would be his girlfriend getting ready,” joked general manager Phil Savage. “We made you wait yesterday, and you made us wait today.”

Quinn will be looked upon as a savior in Cleveland, expected to carry the Browns back to greatness.

He’s used to the heavy lifting. As Notre Dame’s starting QB for four years, every move he made was scrutinized by the school’s worldwide fan base. There may be no tougher job in college football – other than coaching the Fighting Irish – than quarterbacking them.

Quinn feels his pressure-packed collegiate career will serve him well.

“Notre Dame prepared me as best as it could have,” he said. “When you look at the aspects of playing nationally televised games and the competition week in and week out.

I was dealing with the media from Day 1. Obviously, there were times in my career where we started losing and that’s when you feel the heat.

“I’ve been through the fire and adversity, and that’s a positive for me.”

Another plus was playing under coach Charlie Weis, who before going to Notre Dame helped develop Tom Brady into a Pro Bowl quarterback and Super Bowl champion as New England’s offensive coordinator.