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This not an abnormal scenario around the National Football League, when a player squares off against a team he used to play for, but for Miami Dolphins linebacker
Having grown up in Macedonia, Ohio and played his college football at Ohio Northern University, Trusnik has a strong emotional connection to the area. His family and friends all grew up Cleveland Browns fans as he did, so when he got his chance to wear the uniform in 2009 and 2010 it was a dream come true. Now he will face that hostile crowd as a member of the visiting team.
“It is fun to go back. I had a chance to play up there and growing up there, it’s always nice to go back and the family gets to see a game,” said Trusnik, who is in his third season in Miami. “I guess playing in the stadium I grew up going to, had season tickets to, it makes it fun to go up there. But we’re going up there for a reason, and that’s our first game, open up and get a team win.”
Since he still has a lot of family in the area, Trusnik is expecting in the range of 20 to 40 of his supporters to be among the fans. He certainly got a lot of ticket requests not only from family members but also from high school friends and college friends.
Trusnik’s hometown is just 25 minutes away from FirstEnergy Stadium and as a kid he used to run around the house in a mini orange Browns helmet. Two years ago in the third week of September, he made his first appearance in Cleveland as a Dolphin and received the enemy treatment from the diehards in the Dawg Pound.
“We never really sat in the Dawg Pound growing up,” Trusnik said. “But just watching them, it’s just a rowdy crowd, the people that go in there, it’s all about painting their faces, wearing masks, being as loud and crazy as you can. Usually when you get on that end zone over there, whether you’re on offense or defense, it usually picks up and you’re hearing some crazy stuff coming from the stands.”
As one of Miami’s core special teams players, Trusnik will get the first taste of the atmosphere either on the kickoff team or the kick return team and will have a chance to quiet the Dawg Pound. He led the Dolphins with 12 special teams tackles last season and has totaled 17 tackles (nine solo) on defense as a backup inside linebacker.
Trusnik also knew a lot of the younger players would approach him with questions regarding what to expect from a noise level perspective and just the overall environment, especially since he’s experienced it both as a fan and as a player. He was happy to oblige.
“As the week goes on, a lot of the guys have played there, some of the younger guys haven’t, I think they’ll find out — with the information we gave them — as soon as that opening kickoff. Because I know the Dawg Pound and especially the early games in Cleveland, it gets a little rowdy. But it’s a fun atmosphere to play in.”