G Joel Bitonio beat his Browns’ teammates in a game of knockout while they were out in Philadelphia for joint practices, which brought back flashbacks to his high school days guarding Kawhi Leonard when he played for Long Beach Wilson High School.
DE Ogbo Okoronkwo grew up skateboarding as a kid and didn’t consider himself to ever be a “jock.” Yet, once he was introduced to football and excelled, he had to keep his success a secret until he received a scholarship to play at Oklahoma.
Those were stories both Bitonio and Okoronkwo shared on recent episodes of a new player-led podcast launched by the Browns called Dawgs Only.
Dawgs Only aims to create a space for players, coaches and the front office to talk about football and non-football topics, share stories and have fun in an informal setting. Fans can get a peek at the off-the-field lives and the vibrant personalities of some of their favorite players and those among the organization through the podcast.
S Rodney McLeod and LB Anthony Walker Jr. will co-host the podcast, which will feature rotating guests, players and others members of the Browns organization. The inaugural episode of the podcast featured the “Florida Boys” WR Elijah Moore, WR Amari Cooper, Assistant GM Glenn Cook and LB Anthony Walker.
“I think just getting a chance to dive into players off-the-field lives and aspirations and cultures and stuff like that,” Walker said. “Obviously, the fans get a glimpse of who we are with our helmets on. But once you take the helmet off, at the end of the day, we’re human beings as well. So, being able to understand who we are, where we come from and what makes us who we are, I think that’s huge.”
Dawgs Only originated from Bark Tank, a marketing initiative to give Browns employees a place to pitch marketing ideas. The pitch for a non-football centric podcast came from football operations, and the project has been a collective effort across departments in the Browns organization.
Dawgs Only has also had former Browns players including HOF inductee Joe Thomas and Browns alumni Joe Haden. In the second episode, Assistant HC and Special Teams Coordinator Bubba Ventrone take a trip down memory lane. And the third episode features Thomas, G Joel Bitonio and G Wyatt Teller trading high school stories and more.
The first three episodes were filmed during Training Camp at The Greenbrier, the joint practices in Philadelphia and Berea. Future in-season episodes will be recorded on player-off days on an ad hoc basis.
McLeod makes his debut as Walker’s co-host on the fourth episode, in which they spoke with LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (JOK) and DE Ogbo Okoronkwo about their Ghanaian and Nigerian roots, among other topics. To check out the latest episode of Dawgs Only, click here.
“Obviously, you got to understand your co-hosts, so A-Walk and me, we spend a lot of time together, but it’s different when you’re on set,” McLeod said. “So, I think the chemistry will flow very well over the course of this year. And then the conversation went well. It’s not hard when you got a guy like JOK who loves to talk and O, he has good personality. So, they made it easy for us.”
McLeod has some experience in the podcasting sphere, as he was on a podcast with the Colts during the 2022 season. Their podcast focused more about the team, recapping games, previewing the upcoming week or discussing stories around the league.
This new podcast adventure is intriguing to McLeod because it’s player-driven and designed for the players.
“I’m most excited just to be able to share guys’ stories,” McLeod said. “I think not too many people in the world know us for who we are and the things that we do outside of the game. So, the podcast kind of gives good perspective of who guys are outside of the building and what they’re passionate about – their stories, hobbies, interests. And it’s just a way for us to just have a little fun.”
Walker said he’s learned a fair deal from McLeod about the podcasting space. He’s taken the initiative in trying to learn from McLeod and have McLeod mentor him.
The two of them spend time preparing for their podcast talking about who they think would be interesting to have on as a guest and what topics they could discuss.
“Obviously, this is more intimate setting. This is stuff that we do all the time, but you guys are getting a chance to get inside the conversations that we have on a daily basis. For the fans, it’s a unique look into us. But for us, it’s just regular life,” Walker said. “It’s normal conversations, which I think makes the best part of it. This isn’t a facade. We’re not on script. This is nothing like that. This is all authentic and real conversation, real life and just real emotions and feelings.”
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