With family now cheering for Steelers, Justin Layne awaits return to Cleveland
Justin Layne, Cleveland native and Steelers rookie cornerback, has a confession to make.
“I’ve never been to a Browns game,” he said.
This seems surreal considering he was a star wide receiver at Cleveland’s Benedictine High School and one of Ohio’s top recruits before he accepted a scholarship to Michigan State. And also because of his father’s former fandom toward the Browns.
Deondre Lane had a bathroom in the family home decorated in brown and orange until the Steelers drafted his son in the third round this season. Deondre got out the paint and changed the color scheme to black and gold, even drawing the three hypocycloids Steelers logo on a wall.
“It’s all over,” Justin Layne said. “No more Browns. He hates the Browns. It’s funny. He did the whole 360.”
Yet, Layne said Tuesday that he doesn’t recall ever setting foot inside FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Maybe when I was younger for some other little stuff,” he said before changing his mind. “I’ve never been in there.”
That will change Thursday night when the 5-4 Steelers made their annual trip to Cleveland to face the 3-6 Browns.
“It’s going to be huge, going back home for the first time,” Layne said. “It’s going to be big. All games are big, but this is going to mean a lot to me. I’m going to have a lot family and fans out there.”
Layne is hoping he can make a contribution. He has dressed for five of nine games this year (playing in four), and after spending two games on the inactive list, he was in uniform Sunday and played three snaps on special teams in the Steelers’ 17-12 victory against the Los Angeles Rams.
His cheering section aside, Layne expects to get a chilly reception when he sets foot inside the stadium. And not just because of the uniform he is wearing. Like Pittsburgh, Cleveland got hit with snow Tuesday and faced a winter weather advisory. The snow is expected to subside by kickoff Thursday, but temperatures will be in the low-30s.
“If you’re a Cleveland fan, you know what to expect,” Layne said. “I know it’s going to be cold. It’s always colder up there than here.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .