Cleveland police officers, Browns team up at youth football practice

CLEVELAND - Despite recent tension between some NFL players and members of law enforcement, both sides came together to help youth in Cleveland Tuesday.

Cleveland police officers teamed up with Cleveland Browns players for a visit to a recreation center.

Young athletes from local youth football teams were surprised to see members of the Cleveland Browns walk onto their practice field Tuesday evening at the Michael Zone Rec Center on Lorain Avenue.

"Any opportunity that we players get to intermingle with the kids and spend some times with the kids and the fans of Cleveland is a good opportunity and one we want to try and take advantage of," said Browns defensive back Ibraheim Campbell.

Joining them on the field were officers from the Cleveland police department. The kids were eager to pose for pictures, ask for autographs and mingle with the police and the players together.

"It should send a great message to everybody that no matter what, we should be united in every single way, no matter if it's kids in the community, adults, police, Browns players, or anything like that, we're all in it together and that's the way it should be," said Cleveland police officer Charles Leonardi.

No doubt there has been controversy over how NFL players have protested what they consider injustices against African-Americans, such as police brutality. But the police and players on this field hope they're sending these young players a message.

"The message we hope it sends is unity, you know? Something that we've been trying to preach since day one for the season that started, you know, getting everybody together in the community.  It just shows that we're building something, building something special," said wide receiver Ricardo Louis.

"They were teaching us, like, how to catch and throw the ball correctly," said one young player.

"The things that kind of get misconstrued and everything that's going on, it's not, there's no disrespect being put out toward anyone. It's more to make sure that we're creating the best America that we can for the kids and the youth,"said Campbell.

The event was part of the "Browns Give Back" campaign, where team members volunteer in their communities.