By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Area residents came out in force Thursday evening to catch a glimpse of the National Football League as Cleveland Brown safety T.J. Ward took time to sign autographs and pose for pictures during a visit to Giant Eagle.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s exciting,” said Lakeside High School graduate Jordan Manning after getting her picture taken with Ward and friends Katie Eurich and Shannon Dombrowski.
Dozens of people waited in line for Ward to come, according to store administrators, who estimated at least 150 people came to meet Ward. The line was about 75 yards long when he arrived.
Ward patiently signed autographs and said he is excited about getting offseason training sessions started next week.
“It’s just cool to be in this league,” he said.
Store owners Adam and Chris Piovarchy said they were happy with the turnout and are looking forward to a visit from Cleveland Browns linebacker James Michael-Johnson on May 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Sean Parsons, a Lakeside High School graduate, got a signature on a poster and his shirt. He said he really enjoyed meeting Ward.
“I haven’t gotten to meet many players from the Browns,” he said of the visit. “It spices up Ashtabula a little.”
Sean Figueroa, 12, of Ashtabula, said he enjoys watching football but doesn’t play himself. He said it was fun to meet Ward.
Ward said the transition to the new coaching staff, led by Rob Chudzinski, has gone well.
“Anytime you have a new coach and a new owner (Jimmy Haslam), it’s going to take some adjustment,” he said.
Ward said he believes he fits well into any system but believes this system will work out especially well for him.
“I’m really excited,” he said.
Ward said he has enjoyed meeting the new coaches, but is looking forward to next week and getting back to work.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field,” he said.