Justin Layne switched positions in college, is switching NFL allegiances now


Steelers rookie cornerback Justin Layne knows a thing or two about making changes.

The defensive back wanted to play receiver at Michigan State. Coach Mark Dantonio convinced Layne to play defense.

“I wasn’t in favor of it at first, but it worked out, so I’m in favor of it now,” Layne said Friday, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Dantonio thought Layne’s size would help him become an even more effective pass defender than pass catcher.

“There are a lot of 6-2, 6-3 receivers, there are not a lot of 6-2, 6-3 cornerbacks that can move like me,” the 6-3 Layne said. “I was thinking about my future for the most part.”

Layne’s future is now, as a member of the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s decision to pick Layne prompted him to immediately remove Cleveland Browns socks that he was wearing on draft night and then to remove all Browns gear from his family’s home, including a Browns-themed bathroom — which would have been an entirely appropriate place for Browns gear during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

“Browns everywhere, my dad took it all down and replaced it — literally everything, every flag I had,” Layne said Friday, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “So it’s all done. We are fully committed.”

Layne grew up in Cleveland, attending Browns games as a child. And while it’s obvious that he would have preferred to play for the Browns, incoming players have no choice but to accept a system that gives them no options (other than sitting out a full season) if they end up being drafted by a team for which, deep down, they’d rather not play.

The good news for Layne, to the extent that he can’t shake the kind of die-hard fandom that the NFL wants its customers to have, is that he’ll be able to sign with the Browns after his rookie contract expires in four years.

10 responses to “Justin Layne switched positions in college, is switching NFL allegiances now

  1. Every player who makes the NFL grew up as a strong fan of some team, be it college or pro.

    Thousands of fans relocate for jobs each year and have to make the decision of whether to hold old allegiances or switch to the new, local team.

    But I can’t recall a player who took a lesser deal just because he wanted to play for the team he grew up rooting for. There is too much money at stake for players to make their decision on such sentimentality.

    If Layne ends up playing for the Browns in future years it will be because the contract offer is comparable if not better than in other cities.

    Besides, then he and his dad would have to buy all that Browns gear again, and at the prices the NFL charges for official merchandise that could be a significant chunk of change. LOL

  2. wouldn’t it be ironic if he does not make the steelers final 53, and the browns pick him up after he has been released.

  3. If players all got to choose which team would employ them instead of letting the teams decide who they want to employ then everyone would be going to the Cowboys and Patriots.

  4. Figures that now that the Browns have clearly passed the Steelers, Layne’s father still has to root for an inferior team.
    You mean the paper champion browns have passed the Steelers. They clearly haven’t pass the Steelers and won’t.

  5. Tiffani says:
    May 11, 2019 at 11:26 am
    Yep, ban the draft so that players can all sign with their favorite childhood teams out of college… makes sense to me…
    Admittedly, it would be kind of fun to watch a hometown only league. Although the Dolphins and Chargers would absolutely dominate while the Seahawks and Patriots totally collapsed.

  6. steelcurtainn says:
    May 11, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    You mean the paper champion browns have passed the Steelers. They clearly haven’t pass the Steelers and won’t.
    Can you share with us your Steeler predictions from past seasons? Because I seem to remember that every single one of them has the Steelers winning the SB, and every single one of them has been heroically wrong.

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