Browns' first-round bust makes Super Bowl

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
3:00
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- How many thought the player known as "Big Money" would ever make the Big Show?

It's taken 11 seasons and four teams but Browns first-round bust Gerard Warren did the unthinkable by reaching the Super Bowl. Warren isn't a major contributor for the New England Patriots. He's a backup defensive lineman who recorded 16 tackles and one sack this season.

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Michael Ivins/US PresswireAfter 11 seasons and four teams, Gerard Warren is finally in a Super Bowl.
Still, I would have guaranteed that Warren would have been out of football for five years by now. He failed miserably like Courtney Brown, Tim Couch and William Green -- all of whom never lasted more than a couple of years in the NFL after parting ways with the Browns. So, you don't have to respect his work ethic while he was in Cleveland, but you have to acknowledge his staying power in the league.

Warren was the third overall pick in the 2001 draft, a classic example of the Butch Davis regime that overrated talent and undervalued character. Of the top seven picks in that draft, Warren is the only one never to reach a Pro Bowl. The three picks after him: Justin Smith, LaDainian Tomlinson and Richard Seymour.

Couch and Brown will always be considered bigger busts than Warren because they were taken first overall, but Brown ranks first in the team's Hall of Shame.

Remember when Warren was arrested in Pittsburgh in November 2001 for illegal possession of a firearm, former team president Carmen Policy said police thought he was “the nicest guy they ever arrested.”

Remember Warren's threat against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when he said, “Kill the head and the body’s dead."

At Super Bowl's media day, Warren said he will always remember the "highs and lows" of his four seasons with the Browns.

"It was very emotional," he said. "I put a lot of my heart, blood and sweat in the city of Cleveland. I have a special place where I hold the city of Cleveland in my heart. I had to part ways and look where the journey got me."

That journey started in 2005 when with the Browns traded Warren to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick. In the 2007 preseason, he was traded by the Broncos to the Oakland Raiders for a conditional fifth-round pick.

The Raiders released him in March 2010, and Warren later signed with the Patriots on the final day of the 2010 draft. In talking to Warren on media day, you definitely got the sense that he felt lucky and was soaking in the experience.

"This is the reason why I came to the NFL," Warren said. "This is the reason."

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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