Blood is thicker than water. That is the message to take away from DeAndre Layne, the father of the Pittsburgh Steelers third-round draft pick, cornerback Justin Layne out of Michigan State. While he played his college ball up north, however, he and his family hail from Ohio. And many of them grew up die hard Cleveland Browns fans, including his father.
You already know the story by now about how DeAndre repainted his bathroom from Browns colors to Steelers colors. Now here the whole story, as he told it himself when he called into a Cleveland talk show this past week.
Describing himself a “die hard” fan, claiming to “eat, sleep the Browns”, the senior Layne recounted the story of his son’s relationship with the Browns leading up to the draft. “Two nights before the draft, they took him out to dinner, made him feel good about his chances of being picked, and they slept on him, so here we are”, he told the radio hosts.
The family so expected that the Browns would take Layne based on the pre-draft interest that they showed him that he wore Browns socks to his draft party. Even when you’re a fan of a team, you don’t do that when you don’t know where you’re going to be headed. His father said he “immediately” took the socks off and threw them in the trash.
It’s not just that the Browns didn’t draft him, of course. Cleveland, who didn’t have a first-round pick, traded up in the second round in order to draft another player at the same position, that being LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Said DeAndre, “they went up and got their guy, which I respect, but we have to have a divorce at this point”.
As the hosts questioned both how sincere he is and how big of a Browns fan he really was, he recounted a story about his daughter. “Man, you don’t understand how die-hard I am. I was”, he said, correcting himself. “I woke my daughter up the next morning, you know, she’s seven, she don’t understand really what’s going on. I had my Steelers shirt on. She was like, ‘good morning daddy’. And she was like, ‘what do you have on?’. Just like that. So this is serious”.
While much of the conversation was light-hearted, you do also feel the sentiment is both real and pure. He loves his son, and he sincerely thought he would be playing for the Browns, his favorite team. But wherever Justin goes, he’s going to follow. “I’ve got to roll with my son. Blood is thicker than water”, he said. He did add that “a lot of my family members are already Steelers fans”, which is not exactly out of the ordinary throughout the state of Ohio.
DeAndre’s brother later called in while he was still on the phone, and he confirmed the story while DeAndre confirmed it was indeed his brother. On his own allegiance, he said, “let me put it to you this way. It’s day four of me being a lifelong Steelers fan since birth, okay?”.
The hosts continued to question what the future holds for their fandom, but it was summed up this way: “family always. Family first”.