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Earl Little Set To Face Former Team


As Packers safety Earl Little studied preseason film to prepare for Sunday's game versus the Cleveland Browns, he paid particular attention to No. 20, worn by running back Sultan McCullough.

"Some kid was wearing my jersey," Little said as he watched preseason game of the Browns versus the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears. "It was an eerie feeling."

On Sunday Little will suit up in Packers' Green and Gold against the team he played with from 1999-2004. His time with the Browns represents the pinnacle of his playing career. He racked up all 18 of his career interceptions with the Browns before they released him last March.

Expecting Little to spew venom, ripping his former team? Hardly. The eight-year-veteran has fond memories of his time in Cleveland.

"The organization took care of me," he said. "Mr. Lerner and the Cleveland Browns and the Cleveland fans were good to me. I had my best years there."

He still talks to Browns linebacker Andra Davis on the telephone. Defensive back Mike Jameson e-mailed him after going out to eat on Wednesday with the rest of the secondary -- a weekly tradition dating back to when Little played with the team.

"It's funny because I miss those guys," Little said. "Watching the game film, looking at Cleveland Browns stadium, it just takes me back to those memories."

But do not mistake Little's reminiscence for devotion toward his former team. Sunday's game provides extra incentive for the fiery competitor.

"It's gonna be a big game for him," safety Marviel Underwood said. "He's always an intense guy, but given the fact he played for Cleveland, I think he's a little more excited, ready to play. He always works hard, but he's got a little buck in his step."

Little enjoyed his time in Cleveland but wishes it ended on a more positive note.

During the beginning of free agency, the Browns told Little's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, they wanted him back for the 2005 season. They booked a flight ticket to Cleveland so he could return in time for offseason conditioning.

The Browns signed Minnesota Vikings safety Brian Russell to an offer sheet the very next day. They held on to Little until the Vikings' deadline to match Russell's offer expired. The Browns then cut him on the March 27.

"I understand it's a business," he said. "It doesn't overshadow everything I had there since '99, but I wish it could have been handled a little differently."

As a veteran on the Packers, he dispenses advice to the younger players. This week he provided information about the Browns players, their go-to moves and their scheme.

"You know I had to come in here (Tuesday) on my off day," he said. "I had to do the little Watergate scandal and tell all the secrets."

Little relayed the same kind of inside information to the Browns when he played against the New Orleans Saints, his team for the first three years of his career.

Now he takes on the team with whom he made his mark in the NFL.

"I'm looking forward to playing against those guys," he said. "But I'm not going out there with a chip on my shoulder."

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