An Evening with the Kardiac Kids

As resident old-timer, it was my pleasure to attend the Cleveland Touchdown Club’s charity event Monday night, featuring the photography of Jerry Sherk. For those who may not be familiar with the name, Sherk was a DT for the Browns from 1970-1981. He was a good one too.

In 1977, Sherk had a knee injury that kept him off the field. To pass the time, and to remember his days as a Brown, Sherk picked up a camera and began learning from an AP photographer the ins and outs of the trade. Over the next three years, wherever Sherk and the Browns went, so did the camera.

His teammates were willing subjects, especially Sherk’s roommates on the road- Doug Dieken and later Lyle Alzado.

The evening featured a gallery of Sherk’s work, plus a presentation including Sherk and former Browns Doug Dieken, Sam Rutigliano, Greg Pruitt, Don Cockroft and Robert E. Jackson. The panel shared stories of life in Cleveland as a Brown and in NFL in general. They were quite candid about the life of a NFL player then-  including concussions, the rampant use of steroids and the camaraderie of the team.

There were some great stories shared about Lyle Alzado, who passed away in 1992. Alzado was described at times as a gentle giant, but also as a raving lunatic. Depending on the day. Perhaps nobody had a more inside view than his roommate Sherk.

The group also spoke frequently about former Kardiac Kids QB Brian Sipe, who is now a coach at San Diego State university.

A highlight of the night came when a video was shown of the old Big Chuck and Little John show. It was a skit that Doug Dieken and Greg Pruitt were in along with former Steeler Mean Joe Greene. The skit mimicked the famous Coke commercial in which Greene gets a Coke from a young fan and in return gives up his jersey. In this version, the young fan was played by Little John, and Dieken and Pruitt paid him to give Greene a poison drink. Big Chuck was in attendance as well.

The evening was a fund raiser for the Cleveland Touchdown Club, who is implementing a high school athletes mentoring program in connection with the Browns alumni. Ticket revenue and all proceeds from the gallery silent auction were going towards the program.

You can see some of Sherk’s artwork here. The Cleveland Touchdown Club Charities can be found online as well.

Were there any prizes secured for future WFNY contests? Well I suppose you will just have to keep checking in won’t you?

  • vls

    Wow. Those are some fantastic pictures!

  • Harv 21

    Great pics. The sparse clubhouse and amenities make me wonder if a team sacrifices a little attitude when it has cush surroundings and personal services galore for every player. No doubt football is a brutal game no matter what, but I can see the old players being tougher mentally in those surroundings.

    Rick, I think you understate how good Sherk was. Imagine Michael Dean Perry playing at his highest level more than twice as long as he did. Sherk would have gained wider notoriety if the teams in the 1970s weren’t so awful. By kardiac kids time his career was just about done.

  • MrCleaveland

    Sherk was nearly done in by . . . wait for it . . . a staph infection. He got it from the artificial turf at the Vet in Philly.

    In 1995, the week before the Browns played their last game at home prior to the move to Baltimore, Sherk and Brian Sipe drove here from California to catch the game. They filmed their trip, and their film was shown on one of the local TV stations here. It was great.

  • Kevin Ruple

    The AP photographers name is Ron Kuentz. His son, John, is an award-winning photograher for The Plain Dealer.

  • John Tamburello

    it was a great evening…no browns fan should miss this show. First class event put on by first class people and Charity. Thank You

  • Keith R Messinger

    The great days for me, I read the names and memories flashed back. Thankyou Jerry.