The Cleveland Browns signed nine-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe to a one-day contract on June 2. Sutcliffe, of Lyndhurst, Ohio, told the Make-A-Wish Foundation his dream is to play for the Browns one day. He has been diagnosed with a rare immunodeficiency disorder known as ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T).
The Cleveland Browns have signed the youngest player in team history.
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According to a June 2 press release on the Browns' official website, the team signed nine-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe to a one-day contract as it celebrates the first anniversary of its First and Ten volunteering initiative this week.
Sutcliffe, a native of Lyndhurst, Ohio, was diagnosed with ataxia-teangiectasia (A-T). He told the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana his dream is to play for the Browns one day, per the team's official website.
Sutcliffe's parents, Derek and Jennifer, as well as his grandparents Dennis and Mary, accompanied him. His four-year-old brother, Sean, who also has A-T, came long as well. They arrived via limo service at the Browns' training complex in Berea, Ohio, where team president Alec Scheiner welcomed them. They joined Browns general manager Ray Farmer for a meeting in the draft room.
The Browns offered Sutcliffe a one-day contract in the draft room. He agreed to the terms and signed, per ClevelandBrowns.com.
Kevin Jones of the team's official website says Sutcliffe was designated as a defensive lineman.
Farmer and Sutcliffe studied film of a recent OTA practice in the draft room. They also tried to determine which uniform combination the team should wear for Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season, per Jones.
Afterward, Sutcliffe joined Browns head coach Mike Pettine in his office for a private meeting before they proceeded to Sutcliffe's press conference.
At the conclusion of the press conference, Farmer and Derek Sutcliffe held up the nine-year-old player's No. 7 Browns jersey. The Cleveland GM said the younger Sutcliffe will compete with rookie nose guard Danny Shelton for playing time, per Jones.
The Browns then prepared a special lunch for Sutcliffe and his family. After they ate, the team showed Sutcliffe to his locker, which is right next to Browns cornerback Joe Haden's, per Jones.
Sutcliffe then joined his new teammates on the field near the conclustion of OTA practice on June 2. Even though he is a defensive lineman, Sutcliffe caught a pass from Browns quarterback Josh McCown,
"We're excited to add another quality player to our roster as we prepare for the 2015 season," Farmer told the Browns' official website. "When we first connected with Dylan, it was clear he was a competitor who had all of the right attributes to be a contributor to our team."
"Dylan is definitely a young man who has all the 'Play Like a Brown' traits, particularly through his passion, toughness and relentlessness," Pettine told ClevelandBrowns.com. "We look forward to seeing him bring that energy to practice this afternoon."
Ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T) is an immunodeficiency disease that affects the body's organs and roughly between 40,000-100,000 children all over the world.
The Browns' official website says A-T "is a progressive ailment that is characterized by neurological problems, particularly abnormalities of balance, recurrent sinus and respiratory infections and dilated blood vessels in the eyes and on the surface of the skin."
Derek Sutcliffe spoke with The Northeast Ohio Media Group's Dan Labbe on June 2 to discuss his sons' condition:
"Day to day, they just require a lot more attention. Helping them eat, helping them get dressed, helping them go to the bathroom. Anytime they have to get up out of a chair and walk somewhere.
"Sean, being younger, being four-and-a-half, still has a lot of mobility. The tough part is remembering Dylan, who's now nine, when he was Sean's age, and he had all that mobility. And the regression is just starting to happen quickly now.
"Which is why this is so important, because we really wanted to get Dylan out to meet the Browns while he still could stand on his own two feet.
"In dealing with this, and not knowing what the future holds, you learn to live in the moment and live for each day. Today's a good day."
Dylan Sutcliffe singled out Browns defensive tackle Phil Taylor as his favorite player, per The Northeast Ohio Media Group.
"It's a blessing," Taylor told Labbe. "To play the sport you love and have little kids look up to you."
Jones says Sutcliffe will return to his school, Sunview Elementary, for the last day of class on Wednesday.
Of his Cleveland Browns experience, Sutcliffe was succinct, per ESPN.
"I think it was awesome," he told the network.
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