Has Dawg Pound Been Muzzled?

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

BEREA, Ohio (AP) - The Dawg Pound seems to have lost a little of its bark -- and bite.

Browns coach Butch Davis said Wednesday the crowds at Cleveland's new stadium don't seem to have the same fervor as those at the old Cleveland Stadium.

"My only exposure was coming up here in the old stadium," Davis said. "Maybe because it was 80,000 people or more. I don't know whether it's because of corporate numbers."

Before taking over the Browns before last season, Davis' only trip to Cleveland came with the Dallas Cowboys who played their season opener against the Browns in 1991.

Back then, Browns fans -- especially those in the end zone bleachers -- were regarded as the NFL's rowdiest. Not only were they loud, but the Dawg Pound frequently pelted opposing players with dog bones.

At times in the new Cleveland Browns Stadium, Davis says he sees more empty orange seats than filled ones.

"I know some people tailgate and stay until the last minute and don't get into a real frenzy until certain parts of the game," Davis said. "They take an extended halftime. The bleachers are about half empty until the middle of the third quarter."

Earlier this week, Davis said the noise at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field last Sunday prevented the Browns from using their no-huddle offense.

Also, Davis noticed that the crowd during Monday night's game in Baltimore was at a fever pitch from the opening kickoff through the final whistle.

"They were on fire," Davis said.

Davis is hoping Browns fans can get just as heated on Sunday night against the Ravens when Cleveland makes its first national TV appearance since the opening week in 1999.

"Hopefully that won't be the case Sunday night," Davis said. "Hopefully, the action will be good enough on the field that everybody will stay in their seats and scream their lungs out."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)