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Avon Fans respond to 2014 NFL draft picks

ZZ's Big Top 'Game Night' showcases big game from local hunters


Filed on May 9, 2014 by Evan Goodenow

From left, Tom Smith, Eric Schatschneider, Matt Smith and Ken Schwartz react Thursday as the Buffalo Bills pick Sammy Watkins after the Browns did not during the first round of the NFL Draft at Mulligan's Pub & Grille in Avon. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

AVON -- A few drafts helped them deal with the draft, at least until the Cleveland Browns picked Johnny Manziel.

"Browns fans are put through an excruciating ritual every year," said Matt Smith as he watched the NFL Draft at Mulligan's Pub & Grille on Thursday [5-8-14]. "Somehow we survive. Probably because of beer."

Smith, a 54-year-old retired Firelands High School teacher, watched the draft with Tom Smith, his 55-year-old brother and a retired Elyria Schools science teacher. They were joined by their cousin, Ken Schwartz, 59, an employee of Nelson Stud Welding Inc., in Elyria. The three men, all lifelong Browns fans and high school football players from Avon, said they go to draft parties at bars because of the camaraderie¬ of the event.

"We know there's no Steelers fans here," Matt Smith said. "If they are here, they're keeping a low profile."

The friends' mood was the same as after recent Browns-Steelers games -- the Steelers hold a 25-5 record against the Browns since 1999 -- early in the draft. They were disappointed that the Browns, who entered the draft with the fourth pick, traded down.

They had been hoping that the Browns would draft Sammy Watkins, a fleet-footed, sticky-fingered receiver from Clemson who helped torch Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. The Buffalo Bills chose Watkins with the fourth pick.

"The guy I wanted in a Brown's outfit is going to be in a Buffalo uniform," Tom Smith said.

The men made a sarcastic toast to Browns draft busts like Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren and Tim Couch. Schwartz has bittersweet memories.

He recalled watching Jim Brown play for the Browns as a child and said he was on the sidelines working a part-time job as a maintenance man running a heater during "The Drive" in 1986 when Broncos kicker Rich Karlis broke Browns fans' hearts with a game-winning overtime field goal. "The kick was wide," Schwartz insisted.

There were no owls in the packed bar, but "Who?" was heard a lot after the Browns drafted Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the eighth pick ...

Schwartz left the bar in disgust after the pick, but ... the bar erupted when Manziel, the cocky, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, was chosen with the 22nd pick ...

Reached by phone at home, Schwartz's mood had changed with the Manziel pick.

"I'm excited," he said. "This changes the whole thing."

Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

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ZZ's Big Top 'Game Night' showcases big game from local hunters

Filed by shanerogers February 23, 2013

By Shane Rogers

AVON -- Perch, venison, elk and turtle, oh my!

ZZ's Big Top in Avon held its 17th annual "Game Night" Feb. 17 [2013] hunters gathered at ZZ's to share what they bagged during the hunting season this past winter, and to enjoy a few cold ones, of course.

"Wild game is better than fast food," said Ken Schwartz, one of the hunters participating in the event.

"You can set us down at any part of town (Avon) and I have hunted there," said Matt Smith as he passed around fried bluegill that he had caught.

Keith Zeman, owner of ZZ's, throws the event every year as a celebration of local hunters. According to Zeman, unlike other game nights around the area, he doesn't charge for entrance. In order to eat, all you have to do is bring in something to share ...

A banquet table sat in a corner of the bar that was lined with smoked venison, fried perch, turtle soup and so much more. Hunters meandered in, carrying what they had bagged over the winter and everyone was greeted with a hearty "Hello!"

After picking over the buffet the hunters all sat around different tables swapping stories of the season and of their lives.

With a beer in one hand and a piece of fresh game in the other all the participants of "Game Night" appeared set in making sure that this tradition, much like hunting season, will be back again next year.

Contact Shane Rogers at srogers@2presspapers.com

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