In the early moments of apologizing for the ill-conceived social media post of a masked man stabbing a police officer in the neck, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell apologized and offered to send his first game check to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.
That check arrived last week, even though foundation president Sergeant Demetrick Pennie said he didn’t want the money. All he had wanted was to develop a relationship with Crowell, to talk to him about the sacrifices police make in communities. So he called Crowell when he saw the check for over $35,000.
“I said, ‘Isaiah, why did you send me a check? I told you you didn’t have to send me a check,”’ Pennie told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He said, ‘Sarge, I want to do it. I really want to do it.’ I said, ‘okay, alright, you will now be an executive level sponsor. So now, you are a celebrity sponsor of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.”’
Crowell didn’t want to elaborate much about the donation, saying: “I said I was going to do it and I wanted to follow through.”
But while he’s not talking about it, he’s developed a relationship with Pennie through the incident, and made the trip to Dallas for the funeral service of one of the officers. But the two have talked about far more than football and donations in the weeks since.
“Isaiah is like my little brother,” Pennie said. “He’s a long-term sponsor, not necessarily in terms of money, but he’s going to be involved with my foundation, and how I engage him with my widows, and my fallen officer families. That’s where this is going. . . .
“Now he can get out here and play this game without having to worry about the [stress] of whether he’s being politically involved in this or that. Now, he’s able to focus on his career and being a positive role model and that’s what I want him to do.”
Crowell’s also enjoying a career renaissance, with 394 rushing yards so far, which is second in the league. Whether that has anything to do with his off-field actions, he’s taking steps to becoming the kind of player and person the Browns want to have around.