Former Rocket lands in Cleveland’s Dawg PoundWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Gradkowski received an early Christmas present that many Americans are craving: employment.
The Cleveland Browns signed the former UT quarterback on Dec. 2 after the team lost Brady Quinn and second string quarterback Derek Anderson for the season because of injury.
Gradkowski will serve as a backup to Ken Dorsey for the rest of the season. It’s a role the former Rocket is happy to fill.
“I’m going to do whatever I need to do for this team,” Gradkowski said. “If that’s backing up Ken for the rest of the season, I’ll do that.”
The Browns’ front office was glad to find a quarterback with Gradkowski’s NFL experience.
“One of the things that we needed was somebody who had played in a game,” said head coach Romeo Crennel. “Bruce has played in several of them and has won a couple of them, and so we thought that would be important to us going forward.”
The Rockets all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns really sold himself with his positive attitude during his workout.
“He seemed to be in shape,” said Browns’ general manager Phil Savage. “He seemed to be enthusiastic. He seemed to really want the job, so that’s probably what won us over.”
“You know, it’s good to be back here in Ohio,” Gradkowski said. “Ohio has always been good to me being at [UT].”
Gradkowski’s career and image took a hit in 2007, and part of 2008, when his name was brought up during the Toledo football programs’ alleged point-shaving scandal investigation.
Though Gradkowski was never charged with any crimes during that investigation, it looked like his professional football career was thrown in the blender.
After spending his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers cut Gradkowski in June. He signed with St. Louis three days later. He spent the pre-season with the Rams and even saw some action during exhibition games.
However, the Rams signed veteran Trent Green to back up Marc Bulger, and Gradkowski was cut the last day of August and began looking for a new team.
On Oct. 4, I caught up with Gradkowski during halftime of the Rockets’ homecoming game against Ball State.
At that time, he had been working out for a handful of teams, but it wasn’t happening.
Even the day after Thanksgiving, during UT’s game against BGSU, NBC 24 Sports Director Eric Haubert spoke with Gradkowski, who said the Philadelphia Eagles were interested in working him out.
Four days later, the guy who donned the midnight blue and gold during college was sporting a bright orange jersey at his first practice with the Browns.
“I was confident something was going to turn around,” Gradkowski said. “There’s no question about it. Just being the competitor that I am. It’s just good to get an opportunity and I’m happy to be here.”
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC 24 and can be reached at email@example.com.