DETROIT — Brogan Roback’s life the past month has been a bit surreal.
One minute, the St. John’s Jesuit alumnus was an undrafted free agent from the Mid-American Conference who was coming off an injury and just hoping to earn a chance in front of a professional team.
The next, he was lounging in the Cleveland Browns’ mysterious quarterback RV, the cameras from HBO’s Hard Knocks were following him on a date with his girlfriend, and Erin Andrews was wishing him a happy birthday on Twitter.
It’s all happened so fast.
“It’s different,” he said Thursday. “But in a good way.”
After turning 24 years old Wednesday, Roback was hoping for a belated present from the team: an invitation to hang around permanently. Unfortunately for Roback, his chances of sticking on the team’s season-opening active roster ended Friday when he was waived. He now can be claimed by another team, and if he passes through waivers, he could return to the Browns via the team’s practice squad.
Before the decision was made, the Browns took a long look at him in the final preseason game Thursday against the Detroit Lions. With his own personal cheering section in attendance at Ford Field, Roback threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Blake Jackson that put Cleveland ahead 35-10.
Roback finished the game 7-for-14 for 130 yards and the touchdown his family saw live before reuniting on the field after the game.
St. John's Jesuit graduate and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brogan Roback (3) talks with fellow quarterback Baker Mayfield during practice Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Roback threw a touchdown pass in Thursday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions.
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“To see that smile, that’s why I do what I do,” Roback said. “I’m glad I finally got one in there for them.”
Roback went into the game knowing he had a rugged path to make the 53-man roster. Tyrod Taylor and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield entered camp as locks to make the roster, and the team also signed veteran Drew Stanton in the offseason.
After the Browns’ 35-17 victory, Browns coach Hue Jackson spoke fondly of Roback.
“Brogan’s been awesome,” Jackson said. “Obviously, he’s in there with a very talented room. He’s done a really good job. I think the guys in the room really respect him, they like him. His teammates like him.
“Obviously, it was great to see him throw a touchdown pass here and make plays that way, but he’s another young man that’s improved.”
If given the choice, Roback had no hesitation in saying he wants to stay in Cleveland. In his time with the Browns, Roback has been under the tutelage of the team’s two veteran quarterbacks as well as offensive coordinator Todd Haley, relationships he said he’ll carry on no matter where he is in the future.
Roback said his first choice is to remain with the Browns, even if it’s on the practice squad.
“The relationships I’ve built here have been unbelievable,” Roback said. “I’d love to be a Cleveland Brown. I’d love to stay here, whatever that may be.”
It was a trying offseason at the worst time — he broke his ankle in his final game at Eastern Michigan, causing him to miss out on many chances in front of scouts. But he still ended up in Cleveland, and Roback’s first NFL offseason has been a learning experience he won’t soon forget.
“It was a lot, but I also knew if I could get through this,” Roback said, “I could get through anything.”
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