Super Bowl notebook: Ex-Browns workhorse adjusts to role with Giants

Steve Doerschuk

Reuben Droughns says he “knew” the Browns were “gonna do it.”

He just didn’t know they’d do it without him.

“All they were missing,” Droughns said from Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday, “was a good offensive line and a smart quarterback in Derek Anderson. He was really one of those lost pieces in the puzzle. He stepped in and did a tremendous job.”

Droughns’ job relocated him to New Jersey. He’s a Giants running back who doesn’t run the ball any more because the team found a hot rookie, Ahmad Bradshaw, to share the load with workhorse Brandon Jacobs.

He does, however, relish the thought of winning a Super Bowl ring at age 29. So what if it’s as a special teams commando?

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster,” Droughns said. “At the same time, it’s been entertaining.”

Droughns was the life of Cleveland’s party in 2005. He rushed for 1,232 yards, becoming the first Brown over 1,000 since 1985. In 2006, he backslid to 758 yards. In 2007, he was traded for wideout Tim Carter and replaced by Jamal Lewis.

He played in all 16 games for the Giants, starting two. He got a fair amount of carries (85) and scored six touchdowns. In an October game against Atlanta, he led the Giants with 90 yards.

As the team took shape, though, Jacobs emerged as an oversized slammer. Bradshaw brought a special electricity.

Droughns adjusted to a support role, or as he puts it, “I had a good time in Cleveland, and this is an opportunity to add my pieces to the puzzle.”

Tom and Romeo

Droughns’ last two head coaches, Romeo Crennel in Cleveland and Tom Coughlin with the Giants, both fell out of the Bill Parcells coaching tree.

“There’s not much a difference as far as their coaching style,” Droughns said. “One smiles a little more with the media. One is less entertaining.”

Crennel has been to six Super Bowls as an assistant. Coughlin beat him to the punch as far as a shot at winning as a head coach.

“Tom is smiling a little more these days,” Droughns said.

Meaning of existence

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had some fun with one of those media day questions about how he uses the big stage to express his purpose in the universe.

“Wow,” he said, “that’s deep. My purpose in life? My God, I play football. I happen to do that good enough to have this platform, but I don’t think any of us has a cure for cancer.

“If we can perform some kind of entertainment for people to change the subject a little bit in life, I think that’s great.”

Kraft says cheese

The Patriots were having a miserable year when, before a Patriots-Browns games, Owner Robert Kraft was asked if he was confident in his new head coach.

Kraft said Bill Belichick would be fine. Then he lost to a Browns team that finished 3-13.

“I took a lot of heat when we hired him,” Kraft said. “We gave up a first-round pick to get him (from the Jets). He was 5-11 his first year and then we started out 1-3. I can just tell you, my support for him never wavered.”

What’s a woobie?

Linebacker Mike Vrabel was a Browns fan playing for Walsh Jesuit High School when Belichick coached the Browns. For the last seven seasons, Belichick has been Vrabel’s boss in New England. They have some fun with each other.

Vrabel calls Belichick’s trademark hoodie “his little woobie.”

“That’s his little security blanket,” Vrabel said. “It has that pouch and he keeps all of his stuff in it. I bet you’d like to see what’s inside.”

Belichick isn’t as uptight as he was during his 1990s run with Cleveland, but Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel says the man seldom shows a smile.

“You’d better enjoy it when you see it, because you don’t see it that much,” Samuel said.

Ticket to Canton

There’s a greater chance Belichick will turn to a career in standup comedy than there is of Tom Brady not going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the minute he is eligible.

Where does Brady see his place among the stars?

“Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, John Elway, Dan Marino, Terry Braadshaw, Roger Staubach ... those guys, as far as I’m concerned, are in a league of their own,” Brady said. “Joe Namath ... you still watch film of those guys. Terry Bradshaw and his four Super Bowl rings.”

Brady will collect his fourth Super Bowl ring unless the Giants pull off a mammoth upset.

Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail