Adriano Belli: This Will Be Interesting

The Browns took a chance this week on Adriano Belli, a defensive tackle who has had previous shots at the NFL. What may be most interesting, however, is the effect he has on the Browns locker room. What I wouldn't give to see Gerard Warren the first time Belli tries to... well... read the article and find out.

Not a lot of Canadian players get a chance in the NFL. Fewer get two chances. Almost none get a third.

But a third shot at the NFL has come to Adriano Belli, a tough defensive tackle who played his college ball at the University of Houston.

Like a lot of players signed this time of year, Belli has bounced around professional football. In addition to tryouts with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, Belli played with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL and with the Grey Cup Champion Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Belli worked out for the Browns, along with two other CFL players in December 2002. Coach Davis worked Belli on both offense and defensive line positions and, according to Belli's agent, was enthusiastic about Belli during the workouts.

Belli started most of the games for the University of Houston his junior and senior years, helping lead that club to its position as one of the top college defenses in 1999. After college, Belli was picked up as a free agent by the Atlanta Falcons. He went to the Las Vegas Outlaws after that, got close to making the NY Giants in 2001, and then went to Canada. Injuries had a lot to do with his problems cracking into the NFL. He had a pulled hamstring during his tryout with the Falcons, and wound up with a calf injury while trying out for the Giants.

Belli is confident he can win a spot with the Browns. "If I get in there healthy, I'll have no problem making the team," Belli told the Montreal Gazette. "If things don't work out, then I can put it behind me. Then I'll come back and say I didn't have what it took."

The biggest challenge for Belli may be getting his teammates to accept a custom which is traditional in his Italian heritage but unusual in NFL locker rooms: Belli tends to kiss his teammates and coaches on both cheeks. While Belli was born in Canada, his family is from Italy.

According to the Montreal Gazette, defensive lineman Ed Philion said about the reputed ladies man: "He tries to kiss me. I've got to carry a bat around with me. But he's great to have around the team. He brings passion to the game and makes you feel younger."

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