"Art Modell had no idea who I was, but I made him laugh," Savage told a crowd of about 80 football hungry Southerners at a Tuesday night meeting of The Huntsville (AL) Quarterback Club. "We had about 15 coaches on staff and I was number 15B."
So how did a skinny all-conference shortstop from
"We were all sitting around the office one day and the guys talked me into doing a few impersonations of some of the coaches. I looked and Art Modell was doubled over laughing," Savage said. "Art still didn't really know who I was, so when a security guard told me he wanted to see me in his office, I thought someone was pulling my leg. Then I saw his son in the hall and he told me Art really needed to see me."
Savage said Modell called him onto the carpet – the white "executive" carpet to be exact – and asked him what job he wanted in the organization.
"Well, Mr. Modell, you seem to go through coaches and football personnel pretty quickly around here, I think my safest job would be your driver," Savage deadpanned. Modell went on to explain to him that Casey Stengel used to carry a .220 hitter on his baseball team at all times. When asked why he kept such a lowly hitter on the team, Stengel told reporters that the player was great on long road trip because he could entertain the guys and was a heck of a piano player on the train.
"Phil, you're my piano player," Modell said.
And so began a long, relatively improbable journey for Savage. Along the way, he got a pretty big confidence boost by a selection he and longtime friend Ozzie Newsome didn't make in Round 1 – Lawrence Phillips.
"Everyone, including Art, wanted us to take Phillips. He was the glamour
pick. But character was important to us and Phillips had some issues (like
showing up at
Nine Pro Bowls later for
"Let me tell you something, Charlie Frye is outstanding. So are KWII and Braylon. We are really excited about those guys. And Kamerion is a going to be a monster. He will get double-digit sacks this year," Savage said.
Savage knows his young players are still developing, and prone to a few
mistakes. But how about that interception Frye threw Sunday in
"Charlie came up to me after the game and promised to sign in blood that he'd never do that again," Savage said. "Down 21-3, to come back and win that game was really big for us. Now we need to get that signature win."
According to Savage, Browns fans were pretty resourceful during the Raider game – like finding his email address and blowing up his Blackberry with messages when the Browns fell behind 21-3. "How many more 3rd and long runs up the middle do we have to watch?" Savage said of his emails. "It was brutal. If we had lost that game, I was going to tell The Huntsville Quarterback Club they may have to change my bio (to ex-Cleveland GM)."
Personally speaking, I'm hoping he doesn't change that title for a long time.
Draft Notes: Savage said
Confirming the widely reported, Savage said Haloti Ngata, Wimbley and
Broderick Bunkley were the Round 1 targets, while he focused on getting D'Qwell
Jackson in Round 2. "We liked Demeco Ryans, but we felt that
No Bama for Ozzie: Breaking the hearts of most
Higher calling? Savage said he told his wife for two years