CLEVELAND — As Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared through Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday, pictures of fallen police officers from around Northeast Ohio flashed on the giant scoreboard.
The crowd’s rousing ovation turned to barks, which are usually reserved for big plays on the field by the Browns.
James Kerstetter would’ve appreciated the gesture.
He’s certainly deserving.
The Elyria patrolman killed in the line of duty was a big Browns fan. He was one of five officers honored Sunday between the first and second quarters of the home opener in the Browns’ “Hats Off to Our Heroes” program.
“This is overwhelming to me,” Carol Kerstetter, James’ mom, said with tears in her eyes. “To have his picture up there on the scoreboard and everyone in the stadium standing and clapping is simply overwhelming.
“We didn’t know what to expect today, but we are very proud to be here to represent our Jim and our family.”
The Browns gave the families seats marked by a large banner proclaiming: Honor Row. The families were shown on the scoreboard, also drawing large cheers.
Kerstetter’s parents, Carol and Jim, represented the family. Officer Kerstetter’s wife was enrolling their daughter at Ohio State.
Kerstetter was shot and killed March 15 while responding to a neighbor dispute on the city’s south side.
“He loved the Browns,” Carol said. “He worked a lot so he didn’t get a chance to come to many games. All three of his girls are involved in sports and he enjoyed watching them play.”
Even though the Browns lost 16-14 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the day was a bonding experience for the families of the deceased.
“They are all lovely people brought together by tragedy,” Carol said. “We have seen them and talked to them at different ceremonies. It was nice to share this experience with them.”
The others honored were: trooper Andrew C. Baldridge (Ohio Highway Patrol), Officer Jarod Michael Dean (Boston Heights), Officer Thomas Patton II (Cleveland Heights) and Chief of Police Carl Worley (Ross Township).
Read more on the Browns
- Chiefs 16, Browns 14: Game story from the CT's Scott Petrak and photo gallery
- Matchups: Who had the edge on offense, defense, special teams and coaching?
- Scoring breakdown
- Thumbs up, thumbs down, plus play, stats and quote of the game
- Analysis from the CT's Brian Dulik: Browns still finding ways to lose
- Browns notes: QB Seneca Wallace says loss is his fault
- Browns greats get their just due in halftime ceremony
- Browns honor slain Elyria police officer Jim Kerstetter
Hans Schneider contributed to this report.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.