Old Acquaintances to Meet Again Sunday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson and Jets quarterback Kellen Clemens have a history that goes back to high school days in Oregon. On Sunday, they meet again as the starting NFL quarterbacks for the first time...

Before and after the Browns-Jets game on Sunday, there will be a lot of catching up between the opposing quarterbacks and the opposing coaches.

Cleveland's Derek Anderson and New York's Kellen Clemens played against one another at Oregon State and Oregon, respectively, and also played against one another in high school in Oregon. And the Browns' Romeo Crennel and the Jets' Eric Mangini were assistant coaches on the same staffs with the Jets and New England.

"It's been really neat how this whole thing has played out," said Clemens, who is from Burns, which is in the middle of the state. Anderson is from Scappoose, which is north of Portland. "We went to a football camp in California together and really got to hang out and just talk. It's really an amazing thing how two guys from small towns in Oregon can now be starting for NFL teams and going to go against one another this Sunday."

The camp that Clemens referred to was no ordinary one. It was the Elite-11 quarterback camp in California, and also among the attendees were future NFL players Matt Leinart and Brodie Croyle.

"Derek and I played against each other for the first time (my) sophomore year of high school in basketball, and they handed it to us," Clemens recalled. "Then we played against each other again senior year in football, and beat us again. We squared off twice that summer in an all-star basketball game, and I was on the winning side for a little bit. Then we played each other twice in college, and we each won one and lost one. We've had a really good friendship throughout all that -- visiting after the game and before the game. We give each other a phone call every once in a while and just chat back and forth on how things are going. He's a great guy and obviously a very talented quarterback and he's getting his chance now."

"I talked to him a couple of weeks ago before they played Pittsburgh," said Anderson, who indicated that he gave Clemens some advice about the Steelers. "We try and stay in touch when we can. ... When he goes back to Oregon, we may meet up. We have the same agent, so we meet up at golf tournaments and all of that good stuff."

He also realizes it's unusual for two high school rivals to see each other again in the pros.

"It's pretty cool," Anderson said. "Both of us coming from small towns and Oregon is pretty neat. We went through high school playing against each other, then college and now. It probably doesn't happen a ton."

Although Mangini's relationship with New England coach Bill Belichick obviously is fractured, his friendship with Crennel remains strong. Crennel's friends often call him Rac, and Mangini was one of the guests at Crennel's surprise 60th birthday party in June.

"Rac is a guy that I can call with a lot of different issues," Mangini said, indicating how he has sought advice from him since becoming a head coach. Crennel became the Browns coach a year before Mangini took over the Jets.

"He had just had the same experiences a year ahead of time, so it was a little different than maybe talking to Coach (Bill) Parcells or Marty (Schottenheimer). I was able to run some ideas off of him because he had been going through things for the first time, and we had a similar frame of reference. We could draw on those experiences and compare and contrast. So that was a nice sounding board (and) still is."

"I don't know what side of (Mangini) that you see," Crennel said, "because I don't watch the press conferences and I don't see you guys deal with him on a daily basis. He's a good guy behind the scenes. He's fun-loving, he enjoys a good laugh and a good meal. He's like I am and that's why we get along so well."

But for 60 minutes Sunday, these friendships will be put aside temporarily.


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