The Cleveland Browns seemed to have struck gold with Austin Reiter. But alas, fate would have its say in the end. Relive the Legend of Austin Reiter.
The Cleveland Browns found a natural center who can run block, pass block and call protections without a hitch. For the first time this season, all was well for the Browns at center. Then it was gone.
Like Sisyphus who finally pushed the boulder up the mountain, the Browns had finally found the center they lacked so far this season. But the tale of Sisyphus has a bad ending, as every time he reached the top of the mountain the boulder rolled down the mountain forcing him to start all over again. This process repeated throughout eternity. The Browns are now playing their role as Sisyphus as they must once again start over after losing Austin Reiter.
Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Washington, Reiter, who was making his first start after being picked up from the Redskins practice squad, tore his ACL and ending his season.
Austin Reiter, we barely knew ye!
I am compelled to tell the tale – to tell of the legend of Austin Reiter, who came out of nowhere like a flash to play one remarkable game, only to disappear and never be heard from again that season.
Note: Normally a legend such as this is written in rhythm and meter. However, as a communications major from the University of South Florida, Reiter himself would probably advise using prose as it is better equipped for clarity and focus in communication.
It all began one Sunday when the fabled Cleveland Browns suspended their starting right guard for off-field conduct. The best solution to stabilize the offensive line was to shift John Greco, who was actually the team’s starting right guard but had moved to center due to injury to the starting center, back to right guard. In a corresponding move, the Browns decided to start little-known center Austin Reiter.
Reiter had arrived in Cleveland the week before after being signed to the active roster when starting center Cameron Erving suffered a bruised lung. The plan was for Reiter to serve as a backup center until Erving recovered. But fate had other plans . . .
Reiter started the game at center against the Washington Redskins. But he got off to a rough start. He was unable to capture his man on a zone-run play, causing the running back to cut back for a one-yard loss. The play set the Browns offense off schedule ultimately leading to a punt.
However, after having spent two seasons on the Redskins practice squad, Reiter would not be denied in his first (and maybe only) opportunity to prove himself. He came out for the next series with a vengeance. He began to run block more effectively. Having been taught the art of run blocking by many advisers, Reiter knew that gaining position would be the best way to win in a stalemate block. He harnessed this teaching in order to pave the way for the league’s second-leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell (who is rumored to have the strength, speed and power of a Crow).
His legendary day was only beginning. Reiter then took control of the offensive line leading his men of five into battle. He made line calls setting his men into the correct protection and keeping his fellow rookie signal caller out of harm’s way. He outsmarted the Redskins menacing defense, countering every attack they brought forth from their bag of witty schemes. Reiter was never fooled. Fate was on his side.
As the combat continued, Reiter even began to make blocks that had earlier eluded him. He found a way to overtake the defender in zone-blocking schemes allowing Crowell to fly for 122 yards rushing on 15 carries. His play was climbing to levels heretofore unseen by Browns centers this season.
But just as Reiter was bursting onto the scene, in an act of cruel fate, the man known in college as “Iron Man” for his ability to play through injuries had his blocking and protection calling powers stripped from him. He made the ultimate sacrifice to keep his quarterback from getting hit. His sacrifice allowed Cody Kessler to complete a pass to his tight end for an eight-yard gain with his team trailing 31-20 with three minutes left in the game.
Reiter was helped off the field. As he disappeared into the tunnel heading into the locker room, I felt a small tug on my shirt. I looked down to see my son staring up at me with a puzzled look in his eye. He looked at me and asked, “Dad, who was that face-masked man?” After a long pause, I replied, “Son, that is Austin Reiter, the greatest center to ever play for the Cleveland Browns in 2016.”
And so now the Browns must take up their boulder and continue pushing it up the mountain in hopes that a center in the caliber Austin Reiter may grace their offensive line once more.