Hoyer maintains soft spot for Steelers

BEREA, Ohio -- It was the longest nine weeks of Brian Hoyer's life. This time two years ago, he was among the final cuts the New England Patriots made. For three years he had been Tom Brady's backup and then -- Bam! -- he was kicked to the curb.

So Hoyer waited. And waited. Living at his in-law's house in suburban Cleveland and working out at his old high school, St. Ignatius, Hoyer waited for the phone to ring and for some other team to give him a job.

When the call came, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers -- nemesis of Hoyer's hometown Cleveland Browns. It's the Steelers that the Browns, with Hoyer at quarterback, will face Sunday to open the season.

Hoyer spent only a few weeks with the Steelers, as insurance when Ben Roethlisberger and then backup Byron Leftwich were nursing injuries. Hoyer didn't play a snap in a game. When he was released, he was claimed off waivers by Arizona, where he spent the rest of the season before later being granted his release.

Hoyer signed with Cleveland in 2013 and started three games before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.

"I was grateful to have a job," Hoyer said of his time with the Steelers. "As bitter as this rivalry is and being a Cleveland boy, I will always have a place in my heart for Pittsburgh because they gave me a job at a time when no one else would. ... A couple of things fall different ways, you never know how it would've turned out.

"I couldn't be [happier] to be a Cleveland Brown, but I think that there will always be a spot in my heart for those guys, because they gave me a job when 31 other teams wouldn't. I [will] always be thankful for that, but at the same time, I think I'm on the right side of this rivalry now."

It is an interesting take on a heated division rival that Hoyer understands better than most.