Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Two-Time Super Bowl Champion Coach Dean Pees to Keynote BGSU’s Gridiron Classic


Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Football

by Vincent Briedis, BGSU Strategic Communications

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – BGSU alumnus Dean Pees, one of only eight defensive coordinators in National Football League history to coach in a Super Bowl with two different teams, was announced today as the featured dinner speaker at this year's Gridiron Classic.  The Gridiron Classic, scheduled for Monday, June 17 at Toledo Country Club, is an annual golf and dinner event with all proceeds going to support the BGSU Football program.

The 15th annual Gridiron Classic golf field has a very limited amount of foursomes still available, but dinner guests for the evening are encouraged to register online HERE for an elegant outdoor dinner overlooking the Maumee River after the golf outing. A Coaches Social and Silent auction in the River Room at the Toledo Country Club starts at 5:30 pm on the June 17, followed by dinner and a program with emcee, and fellow BGSU alumnus Jerry Anderson, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Pees graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1972, then became an English teacher and the head football coach at Elmwood High School. Six years later, he became the defensive coordinator at the University of Findlay where he helped the team win a national title and two conference championships. He spent a 25 seasons as a college football coach, including stops as an assistant at Miami (OH), the U.S. Naval Academy, Toledo, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

Pees was the head coach at Kent State from 1998 to 2003. As a college coach, Pees' teams won two Mid-American Conference championships at Miami (OH) and Toledo and reached bowl games in four consecutive seasons — three times at Michigan State and once at Notre Dame.

In 2004, he became linebackers coach and then defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. In 2010, he was hired as the Ravens linebackers coach before taking over as defensive coordinator. While in the NFL, he was a part of seven divisional championships, three AFC championships and three Super Bowls — 2004 and 2007 with the Patriots and 2013 with the Ravens.

Contact Nathan Anderson at or 419-372-9446 with questions about golf or dinner at the Gridiron Classic, or register for both online HERE.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Browns history: Catching up with DE Anthony Pleasant, where is he now?

25 questions with a defensive force who owns two Super Bowl rings

Defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant #98 and linebacker Mike Johnson #59  Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

In 1989, the Cleveland Browns went 9-6-1 under new head coach Bud Carson who had taken over for Marty Schottenheimer. The franchise had never had a losing season under Shotts and most had the impression that Carson’s roster was simply Schottenheimer’s team thus the winning win-loss record.

The defense under Schotts and DC Dave Adolph played the 3-4. Carson was also a defensive mind and his scheme was the 4-3 which meant the roster had to have more defensive ends.

Cleveland’s defensive front was beginning to age with Al Baker and Carl Hairston well into their 30s, but Michael Dean Perry was a much-heralded defensive tackle from Clemson who was named First Team All-Pro and selected to his first Pro Bowl. Robert Banks manned one of the defensive end positions and was just 26 years old.

1990 Topps Anthony Pleasant rookie football card #14T

In 1990, then-GM Ernie Accorsi traded out of the first round and then drafted FB Leroy Hoard in the second round. In Round 3, Accorsi selected DE Anthony Pleasant out of Tennessee State.

On the night before the draft, Pleasant was in a hotel in Dallas with his agent.

Pleasant (6’-5”, 280 pounds) played quite a bit as a rookie with 50 total tackles, a forced fumble, and 3.5 sacks. He became the starting right defensive end in just his second season at age 23. He played alongside Perry and James Jones in the middle, while Rob Burnett became the left defensive end.

This was a time when Perry terrorized offensive lines and was named to the Pro Bowl three years in a row with linebacker help from Clay Matthews and Mike Johnson.

Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick Set Number: X45018

In 1991, something occurred with the Browns that changed just about everything associated with the franchise, especially the defense: Owner Art Modell hired New York Football Giants’ defensive coordinator Bill Belichick as the new head coach.

The Giants had just won Super Bowl 25 over the high-flying Buffalo Bills (13-3-0) who had won the AFC Championship Game 51-3 and destroyed every offensive category during the season. The strategy that held the Bills to just 19 points was all Belichick.

By the 1992 season, this Cleveland defensive unit was ranked the #4 defense being sixth against the run (1,605 yards), fourth best per carry average (3.3 yards), second-fewest rushing touchdowns (5), and sixth fewest rushes for first downs (86).

Pleasant’s best season was 1993 when he had 66 total tackles, 11 sacks, and one forced fumble. He moved to Baltimore when the franchise relocated for the 1996 season.

Belichick is known for being a very loyal person. He had “his guys” and wanted them around him. For Belichick, one of the aspects to be grouped into this category was one thing: integrity, which describes Pleasant to a tee. In Cleveland, Belichick brought in linebackers Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks, former Giants defenders as well as S Everson Walls who were all “his guys.”

In 1998, Belichick was the DC of the New York Jets and brought Pleasant to play for his defense once again. When Belichick was hired as the new head coach of the New England Patriots in 2001, he again brought Pleasant with him where he played his final three seasons. The Pats won Super Bowls 36 and 38.

Pleasant was skilled at sacking the quarterback.

For his NFL career, Pleasant played in 202 games with 157 starts, had 534 total tackles, 58 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. While with Cleveland from 1990-1995, he played in 94 games with 71 starts, had 297 total tackles, 33.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, and one fumble recoveries. He also started seven career playoff games. In 1995 Pleasant was the NFL forced fumbles co-leader.

In 1994, Pleasant was part of a Belichick-led Browns defense that helped Cleveland earn its last playoff victory for 26 seasons.

Defensive line coach Anthony Pleasant of the Kansas City Chiefs Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Pleasant did go into coaching briefly after hanging up his cleats. He was the assistant defensive coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2010-2012 under head coach Todd Haley and then Romeo Crennel. Pleasant became the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Houston Texans in 2014 who then elevated him to assistant defensive coach in 2015.

He grew up in Northwest Florida in Century just north of Pensacola and went to Century High School. When he was just two years old, his father passed away. He was essentially raised by his mother Betty who worked in a school cafeteria and taught him character and Christianity.

In 1986 when he was a senior, there were 542 households in Century, out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them. Pleasant was an all-state performer as a defensive lineman and helped Century High School win the North Florida championship. Being a small community school, players had to play both sides of the ball and be mentally tough where they ran every day and practiced over three hours a day. Pleasant also played basketball and baseball.

Football was not Pleasant’s favorite sport nor his dream. He loved basketball and his focus was on shooting hoops, not playing on the gridiron. But at some point, his high school basketball coach told him candidly that even though he was a very good basketball player, he was outstanding on the football field and he should probably shift his emphasis to that sport if he had any intention of going to college and play sports beyond his hometown.

He listened. Everybody has at least one person who could alter one’s future. For Pleasant, that one man who changed his life forever was basketball coach Lorenzo Jones.

At Tennessee State, he had 12 sacks in 1988 which tied a record for the fourth-most in a single season. He also led the squad with 14 tackles for loss. At the end of this season, he was named First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference.

In his final year, he was again named First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference.

After his career was over, the Town of Century honored Pleasant by naming a 22-acre park “Anthony Pleasant Park”, a sports complex. The civic playground includes a full-size football field with other amenities. The recreational area lies adjacent to “Showalter Park” which is a baseball park that honors fellow Centurion Four-Time Major League Baseball Manager of the Year Bucky Showalter.

Pleasant, now 56 years old, lives in the State of Kansas with his wife of 33 years.

Dawgs By Nature’s Barry Shuck caught up with Pleasant to discuss how the NFL is different today, why he went to martial arts school, and what Bill Belichick is really like.

DBN: You grew up in Century, Florida in Northwest Florida. While at Century High School, you played football, basketball and baseball. At what point did you decide to pursue football over the other two sports?

Pleasant: I continued to play each sport all the way through high school. I had a phenomenal year in my junior year in baseball and went to a basketball camp where I was co-MVP. I had decided to pursue basketball. My high school coach and I played some 1-on-1 at the school gym and he told me I was a much better football player than a basketball player and that I should pursue that sport. I was playing tight end, receiver, defensive end, and running back. Today I think back about what if I hadn’t listened to him. What would I be today? Just a knucklehead stuck in my own ways?

DBN: Ainsworth Sports ranked football players from the State of Florida with you included in the list. These are guys like Emmitt Smith, Harold Carmichael, Ray Lewis, Jack Youngblood, Deion Sanders, Deacon Jones, and Joey Bosa. Your thoughts?

Pleasant: I never thought about it. I don’t usually think about what people say about me. The same people who pump you up are the ones who later try to bring you down. Don’t let them dictate how you think you are. You can get big and complacent, and then a player can suddenly be out of a job or not doing so well, and where are those same people? Keep your confidence.

DBN: How did you end up at Tennessee State?

Pleasant: My high school coach knew a guy named Mark Orlando at Tennessee State who then came down to see me. We talked and he watched film on me and asked me to go and play football at their school.

Editor’s note: Mark Orlando is currently the offensive coordinator at Grambling State

Tennessee State 75th Anniversary Team: #50 Anthony Pleasant (upper right)

DBN: Tennessee State is known for some great defensive ends that made it big in the NFL such as Richard Dent, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Claude Humphrey, and Joe “Turkey” Jones. Is it something in the water at your school?

Pleasant: Yeah, it must what it is. When I went there, I started out at outside linebacker because I ran well. Then I was sent to practice with the defensive ends. They finally made me stay there. That is another situation of what if I had said, no, I am going to stay with the linebackers? Again, I had people who saw things in me that I didn’t see myself. Being a pass rusher came natural to me.

DBNIn 1988 you had 12 sacks and the following year you were named All-American. How did you find out you were selected with this prestigious honor, and who was the first person you told?

Pleasant: I got a trophy that was sent to me is how I found out. Sent out by AP (Associated Press). Back then you didn’t get many phone calls. Before cell phones. I didn’t tell anyone about the honor, had too little time to do anything with trying to study and practice all the time. When I got home I put the trophy on the shelf at my mom’s house and that was the end of it.

DBN: Back in 1990 when you were drafted, the NFL draft wasn’t the big event it is now with Primetime coverage. How did you find out you have been taken in the third round by the Browns?

Pleasant: A couple of my teammates had an agent named Steve Weinberg out of Dallas. He invited us to come down and got us a hotel. That night, the day before the draft I prayed, “Please God, don’t let me go to Cleveland.” In my senior year, we played against Central State in old Cleveland stadium and won by one point. It was cold, cloudy, rainy. That was my experience with Cleveland. The wind coming off that lake. We were watching the draft and the phone rang and they said on the line, “Son, welcome to the Cleveland Browns.” But I was happy. I called my mom and told her I had made it. Again, God knowing something more than me.

Pinnacle football card

DBN: You went to a southern university. You grew up a southern kid eating cheese grits, freshly picked vegetables from the garden, all meats are fried, drinking sweet tea while eating boiled peanuts grown right down the road. Now, you are told you are going to make a living playing pro football in Cleveland. That’s Ohio. In the cold. What was your first reaction to this news of playing up north?

Pleasant: The Browns had worked me out several times, so I knew they had an interest. But when I heard I had been taken in the third round, I went, “Wow, man.” I was the Browns second pick of the draft because they took Leroy Hoard in the second round and didn’t have a first-round pick that year. I thought they must have seen something in me to have drafted me that high. It’s all in what people see in you. The weather was good when I first got to the area, but when it got cold it was a different cold that what I experienced while growing up. There were a lot of things that I missed eating, but the food is good everywhere you go. And my mom cooked my favorites anyways.

DBN: What was your first training camp like?

Pleasant: Training camp is like mini-camp with pads on. I came into camp with a chip on my shoulder coming from a smaller school. I had to really prove I could play at this level. It was a hard camp but I was determined.

DBN: Your first head coach was Bud Carson who was fired then replaced by Jim Shofner. Your second season, Bill Belichick was now the head coach. What are the differences in coaching styles between the three coaches?

Pleasant: Bud Carson was a defensive coach and was more up to speed on pass rush and didn’t play the run. The defensive linemen rushed the passer and the linebackers played the run. That was our job. There wasn’t any technique involved in the run game. We played a 4-3 and every play it was just up the field. Shofner was just the interim coach and didn’t change anything with the defense. When Bill came in we still played an over/under defense but it was a two-gap. That means I now had responsibility of two gaps. I didn’t use my hands very well so that was a big transition. Bill brought in bigger guys at linebacker and defensive tackles who had girth on them. The Browns had me and Burnett who were athletic defensive ends and had to learn his system. I struggled that first year.

DE Anthony Pleasant celebrates sack of Cowboys QB Troy Aikman Photo credit should read TIM ROBERTS/AFP via Getty Images

My defensive coach John Mitchell told me martial arts would show me how to use my hands, so in the off-season that is what I did. I found a school to teach me which helped me with hand placement and hand fighting. When I came back the next year it was night and day. That helped me hold onto my position and had 11 sacks that second year under Bill.

DBN: It has been said that being on a Bill Belichick team is hard work. Your thoughts?

Pleasant: I had always played under hard-nosed coaches who practiced you hard and made you run a lot of sprints. So hard work never bothered me and is what I was used to. Some high school practices were harder than NFL training camp. Belichick’s camps were hard, but I have gone through that. Tennessee State practiced us hard. Bill’s practices were just a different kind of hard, and if a player did not know how to work, they struggled to keep up.

DBN: In 1993 you had an 11 sack season and your highest number of tackles with 66 whereas you had just 10 sacks in your first three seasons. Was this a difference with Belichick’s defense, your martial arts training, or that you had finally found your groove being the league now four seasons?

Pleasant: It was me coming into my own finally and developing my skillset. Bill once told me that other players that came from big schools had weight rooms and training facilities that I did not have in college and that I would naturally be behind in development. He directed me into proper training and had the highest standards. He had expectations on me which made me determined to prove I could play in his system.

DBN: Where in Ohio did you live while playing for the Browns, and where was your favorite places to go out to eat?

Pleasant: I lived in North Ridgeville. On Fridays my wife and some friends would all go out to TGIFriday’s. We really liked the Glass Garden in Westlake.

DBN: Everything came together in 1994 with the Browns with a playoff berth plus a playoff win over the New England Patriots. How different is playing in an NFL playoff game versus a regular season game?

Pleasant: The intensity, focus, and speed are ramped up more. Each step during a season just gets harder with more on the line from mini-camp to training camp, from training camp to preseason, then from preseason to the regular season. It is all more important than what you just went through. The playoffs just become another level that it gets ramped up to. Everyone seems to elevate their game. You end up getting the best plays out of everyone because we have all worked all season for this one game. And then for the next just one game. There is a sense of pride that sits there. It’s an honor to be playing in the playoffs and only a select few get to do it.

DBN: In 1995 you led the league in forced fumbles with six. What was your secret?

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Pleasant: Work hard, work ethic. Sometimes see opportunities for the ball instead of trying to get the sack. A fumble can damage an offense a lot more than a sack even if it means you don’t get the stat, but it can turn a game around. My move was to come down on the quarterback’s arm and then drop all the way to the ball in his hand.

DBN: Tell us something about old Municipal Stadium.

Pleasant: It was old, but I loved that stadium. It was nothing like coming down that tunnel. They had these speakers that would be crackling. You would go down the tunnel from the Indians locker room and you could hear the crowd getting louder as you got closer to the dugout. And then you go up the steps of the dugout and would run out and it was just so loud as you got out with that speaker going, “” then some words then back to the crackling sounds then it would hum “ummm” then more words. And the crowd would just be loud.

DBN: How did you find out that the Browns were moving to Baltimore?

Pleasant: We kept hearing rumors about it. I remember Art (Modell) had told Bill he was going to be our coach when we moved to Baltimore. That was a really big distraction from about the fifth game to the end of the season. A lot of people forget we started 3-1 and went downhill from there.

DBN: Selling your home, finding a new house, schools, where to live, changing doctors. That move to a new city had to be difficult. And going from one old stadium to another old stadium. Please explain.

Pleasant: Basically I had to leave all the grunt work to my wife. She had to travel to Baltimore and see what the schools were like, and what houses she wanted. This was during the season and I didn’t have 2-3 days to fly to Baltimore to look around. So a lot of the weight was on the spouses. It was the unknown of going to a different environment. I had made Cleveland my home and was now rooted there. I had grown to love the state. I love Cleveland. That is all I knew was Cleveland. The fans were genuine and loved their Browns. Baltimore got the same winters and was more of a political place. The fans were welcoming despite having to play in a worse stadium than the one we left before the new stadium was built.

DBN: Your entire NFL career you were known for being able to get to the quarterback with good sack numbers. Was this because of technique, film study, or coaching?

Pleasant: All of the above. There are some things that you can’t teach - you either have it or you don’t. But you can learn to be better. Some guys don’t have that edge to be able to rush the passer but can stay home and be good run-stoppers. No matter how much you try to teach them, they still won’t have what it takes to be a good pass rusher. All of that you mentioned all goes together and add in hard work.

DBN: For the 1998-1999 seasons you were re-united with Belichick with the New York Jets. You played in 31 of 32 games and had two great seasons. Belichick is known as a very loyal guy. Were you considered one of “his guys”?

Photo credit should read WAYNE SCARBERRY/AFP via Getty Images

Pleasant: In looking back, I think he came to respect me as a person and as a player. He saw my journey and where I came from going from “A” to “B” as far as my technique and how I learn. I excelled under him. I gave him my hard work and commitment. If you know Bill those are two things he is all about.

DBN: Your first season now in New England under head coach Belichick the Patriots played the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36. The Rams were lights-out on offense going 14-2. This game was also coming off the 9/11 tragedy and security was strong. That was Tom Brady’s first year as the starter. How did your team handle the pressure of playing the NFL’s biggest scoring team, the 9/11 situation, plus an unproven quarterback?

Pleasant: We had played the Rams on a Thursday Night game and they beat us 24-17 and we said if we meet again we will win. Bill was good at keeping the distraction out of the locker room. Keep the focus. So he turned off all the TVs in the building so that the outside noise about 9/11 would not affect us. This was before the Patriots had accomplished anything yet. It was perfect that our colors represented the United States in that game. It was also David against Goliath. The Rams were the “Best Show on Turf” and when they had beaten us we were 5-5. No one expected us to win the Super Bowl. And Bill told us the only people who expect a Patriots win was the people in our locker room. That was his mentality. The night before the game we changed our hotel and drove somewhere way out. All the pressure was now gone. Bill had a great gameplan and in the team meeting he showed us how we were going to win. The Rams had been winning big by making big plays, so our DBs just played deep and let them have all the short stuff. Brady showed he had a presence about him, we had a great defense, and their short completions did nothing.

(L-R) Anthony Pleasant, Tebucky Jones, Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi douse head coach Bill Belichick (C) Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images

DBN: The Patriots won Super Bowl 38, your last season. Which is more difficult: get to the Super Bowl or get back?

Pleasant: Getting back. When you are the champs, teams play you a lot harder because beating you makes them feel better about themselves. And no surprises. You get the best from every player and every member of their coaching staff. Their game plan is to beat you the defending champs. Every regular season game is a Super Bowl to your opponents.

DBN: You became the DL coach with the Chiefs. What was it about coaching that you liked? Are the new breed of players different than from you played?

Pleasant: Teaching. Showing guys how to play the game and techniques. Taking a guy from “A” to “B” which is how they taught me. Teaching life to them and making them better at what their talents are. I think the system has allowed players to be different than when I played. We had to grind in training camp. These guys take regular breaks. You can’t be in camp but for so many days. We used to be there for six weeks without our families. Back before my time they took all players way off to some small college and left them there. They have taken the mindset of the toughest out of the game. We weren’t entitled that anyone owed us something. The system has allowed players to have a different mentality about the game. It’s a lot easier for players today because they don’t have the wear and tear on their bodies.

DBN: Anthony, out of all the former Browns, only Joe Thomas and Paul Brown have a stadium named after them. There is a stadium and park named after you in your hometown of Century. When did they contact you about this being a possibility, and when you go to games do you get free nachos?

Pleasant: I was surprised and could not believe it. I was honored. It was in 2010 when I was with the Chiefs. The hot dogs are good there.

DBN: Besides money, how is the NFL different than when you played?

Pleasant: You have all these females coaching now. And referees. In practices there are certain things you can’t do. Like hitting. We hit somebody every day and it was our way to show what type of player we were. There is a lot more consciousness of protecting the players which is a good thing. They did away with a lot of things like chop blocking and taking out legs. They have made the game safer overall for the players, but at the same time have taken out the aggressiveness. And the physicality of the game.

DBN: What is your fondest moment of being a Cleveland Brown?

Pleasant: Every thought comes to walking in the tunnel of that old stadium, and walking out of the dugout. Then as the loudness of the crowd grows, running out onto the field. You knew you were going to play football today. And I loved the old Dawg Pound. Not the one they have today. Those fans were like no other in the stadium and the other team’s players hated going down into that end zone. Those fans embraced the Browns. It was an honor to be a Brown.

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