BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns added a defensive lineman to the roster on Tuesday when they signed 9-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe to a one-day contract.
Sutcliffe, a resident of suburban Lyndhurst, Ohio, was introduced to the Browns by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Sutcliffe had told Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana that his dream was to play for the Browns.He has been diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), an immunodeficiency disease that affects a number of different organs in the body. A-T is a rare, recessive genetic disorder that affects about one out of every 40,000-100,000 children worldwide.
At a morning news conference to announce Sutcliffe's signing, general manager Ray Farmer raised a folder with Sutcliffe's signed contract. Sutcliffe spent the day at the team facility, and was on the field during the team's offseason practice.
"I think it's awesome," Sutcliffe said as he sat at the team's podium.
"He's definitely going to bring added value to our roster and the football club," Farmer said.
Sutcliffe was flanked by his father, Derek, and Farmer as he was introduced to the media and numerous Browns employees, who broke normal protocol by enthusiastically applauding his signing.
He wore aDonte Whitner jersey as he spoke, but Farmer unveiled a jersey with the No. 7 on it for Sutcliffe, a number Farmer pointed out was used by nobody on the team. The team also had a locker ready for Sutcliffe, filled with team gear. Sutcliffe's locker was next to that of cornerbackJoe Haden, who tweeted a photo of Sutcliffe's setup.
Before practice, Sutcliffe spent time in the team facility in a private coaching session with Mike Pettine and watched film with Farmer.
He said defensive tacklePhil Taylor is his favorite player. Farmer praised his "versatility" when asked if Sutcliffe would practice inside or outside.
"Dylan likes to knock guys over, though," his father said, adding that this day with the Browns was "a dream come true" for the entire family.
Sutcliffe arrived at the team facility in a limousine, and was greeted by team president Alec Scheiner. The team's employees all lined up to cheer and welcome Sutcliffe as he walked in the doors.
Dylan's 4-year-old brother, Sean, also has been diagnosed with ataxia-telangiectasia. Dylan was joined at the facility by his parents, Derek and Jennifer, Sean, and his grandparents Dennis and Mary.
Browns sign 9-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe