CLEVELAND — Colin Gillan, father of Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan, will have a one-of-a-kind view of FirstEnergy Stadium and experience prior to kickoff of today’s AFC North Division game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland.
The elder Gillan will be piloting the lead jet in the flyover following the National Anthem for today’s game. Gillan will fly a P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and he will be flanked by a Lieutenant Commander and three Lieutenants from the United States Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
“This will be a first for me by a long shot,” Colin Gillan told ClevelandBrowns.com Saturday. “I watched a couple of previous ones. It was incredible, actually. You see the crowd as it goes across the stadium. It’s incredible.”
The route from Inverness, Scotland to the National Football League has been a winding one, at least for the Gillans.
A native of a town near Inverness in The Scottish Highlands, Jamie moved to the United States when his father, a member of the Royal Air Force, when he was 16 years old, and the rugby/soccer player quickly worked his way onto the football team at Leonardtown High School in Leonardtown, Maryland.
Despite a limited exposure to college football coaches, Gillan originally committed to play at Bowie State, but when an offer came from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the first Division I school to call, he quickly changed his mind and the rest is history.
After a standout career at Pine Bluff, Gillan earned his way onto the Browns’ 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent and unseated a Pro Bowl-caliber punter, Britton Colquitt, along the way by working on his holding and producing well throughout the offseason program, training camp and in preseason games.
Gillan was honored with one AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award earlier this season, and is putting together a solid first year in the NFL.
Gillan enters today’s game against the Bengals having launched 50 punts for 2,320 yards, an average of 46.4 yards per kick, with only five touchbacks and 24 landing inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Gillan has a long kick of 71 yards.
By leading the flyover, Colin Gillan believes it is representative of the journey he and his son have taken together from Scotland to the United States, and now, the NFL.
“You just couldn’t have written it,” Colin Gillan said to ClevelandBrowns.com. “The opportunities have been incredible.”