During the Browns’ much-needed bye last week, wide receiver Greg Little spent two hours having lunch in Miami with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning.
The meal was fine.
The message was far more satisfying.
Little came away inspired from his first-time meeting with Mourning, who explained to him that if he wanted to develop as a player, and that if he wanted to help his team win, the only way to reach any goals was through personal sacrifice.
The talk stirred Little, who didn’t waste a moment after returning to Cleveland and shared Mourning’s wisdom with his teammates before practice Monday.
“The same message he gave to me is just find something that you can sacrifice,” Little said. “That’s kind of the message I kind of relayed to our team, ‘What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to sacrifice to finish this season out like we really want to.”’
The Browns (2-7) returned from their week off refreshed and recharged for the final seven games, a daunting stretch that begins Sunday at Dallas and includes two games against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The playoffs are essentially out of reach, but the Browns believe they can still make something of the season.
“We want to establish ourselves as a team that can win games,” said cornerback Joe Haden. “We just need to start winning. We feel like it’s the same thing every week. We lose and it’s like, ‘Oh, we’re going to focus on this week and we really have to start winning.’ There’s nothing else that can be said but to win games.”
Little is hoping to channel some of the motivation he got form Mourning into helping the Browns win.
The second-year receiver was a lightning rod of controversy earlier this season as his dropped passes led to a war of words with some fans on Twitter. Little exacerbated his situation by posing after making first downs and dancing in the end zone after a touchdown.
He has since toned down his antics, sworn off social media and become a more polished player. His speech to the team was another sign of his maturity, though some of his teammates wondered what he was up to when he asked to talk.
“Usually I’m more the joker on the team, so anytime I get up and say something it’s a serious message,” he said. “I think the guys were really shocked at the beginning and I think they took it well.”
Haden, too, found motivation in Little’s words. If the Browns are indeed to begin winning, it will take extra effort from all of them.
“We feel like our team is good but nobody else is going to recognize that or realize that until we start getting ‘Ws’ and not ‘Ls’” he said.