From Chagrin Falls to Chicago: How one Browns fan created the Chi-Town DawgPound

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:37 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Jake Wilkoff is just one Browns fan among thousands.

He has a massive collection of Browns memorabilia, but that’s not why he’s being featured in 19 News’ Operation Orange.

His collection just scratches the surface as to what makes this Chagrin Falls native a loyal fan.

“In college I met a girl from Chicago. She is now my wife, we now live in Chicago, which we have for the past 16 years. And when I first moved to Chicago there were a couple of Browns bars and I would go to them as much as possible.”

Wilkoff said he wanted more for Browns fans living in Chicago. He hoped gameday could feel as if they were inside First Energy stadium.

“I approached the guy who had started the club and they said. ‘Yeah we’re good. We like this place and we’re not going to move,’” Wilkoff said.

“I was like ‘Alright, well I’m going to go watch the Browns somewhere else.’ Then it kind of snowballed from a bar that just threw some Browns stuff up on the walls. I told them ‘Hey, you should be a Browns Backer.’”

Wilkoff tells 19 News the bar staff said, “We’re not from Cleveland, we just want people here.” But he wasn’t worried, telling them, “I can do it, I’ll tell people I know to come here.”

That was the beginning of how Wilkoff started the “Chi-Town DawgPound,” a Browns Backers Club.

“I started doing trivia at halftime and we gave away Browns snuggies,” he said.

“We got so big that the Browns Backers couldn’t ignore us anymore and we sent pictures of our crowd there. We were technically too close to the existing Browns Backers, so we had to lobby to be an official Browns Backers.”

The Chi-Town DawgPound won Browns Backers Club of the Year in 2016, out of 355 clubs in 14 countries.

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