CLEVELAND — We all like to think we're great sports fans, but let's be honest: Some of us take it a little more seriously than others. Never was that more true than for one diehard Browns supporter on Friday.
Ray "Showdawg" Prisby was one of three people selected as inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Hall of Fans" presented by Ford. The trio were selected out of more than 27,000 nominees, with Prisby being put up for the honor by Jim Brown himself.
"We are proud to welcome the seventh, eighth and ninth superfans into the Ford Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Hall of Fame President and CEO Davis Baker said in a statement. "This still only scratches the surface of all the great fans who support the National Football League year-round. We look forward to the return of NFL stadiums filled with these special fans who bring boundless passion to the games and lift their favorite teams with positive energy."
Prisby, a veteran of the United States Air Force, only wears the colors brown and orange and has such an extensive collection of Browns memorabilia that the organization has asked to borrow some of it for its museum at FirstEnergy Stadium. He is also known for his "encyclopedic" knowledge of team history, and even wrote a children's book about being a fan.
"I love to see young Browns fans' faces light up when I give them a Browns gift because it's totally unexpected," he said.
"Showdawg" was joined by fellow honorees Kristi Brown and Wayne Mabry, fans of the Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively. The three met with Baker Friday in Tampa where the Super Bowl is taking place, and each even received the legendary "knock" on their hotel doors to notify them of their selections.
Perhaps not so coincidentally, Prisby was wearing the No. 57 jersey of legendary Browns linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., who himself is a finalist for the Hall of Fame's class of 2021. The five Modern-era inductees will be announced Saturday.
Though Ford has only been sponsoring the Hall of Fans for three years, "Showdawg" is not the first Browns fan to receive such recognition: Back in 2001, Debra "The Bone Lady" Darnall was inducted when the honor was sponsored by VISA.