CLEVELAND -- Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz joked that there are more Jewish NFL owners than NFL players. Last he heard, Schwartz and his brother Geoff, a Giants offensive linemen, are two of about seven or eight Jewish-American players in the NFL.
Schwartz was honored to be a fourth-grade student’s choice for a “Jews of Stature” project at Gross Schechter Day School in Cleveland.
“The choices are pretty limited,” said Schwartz, a three-year starter. “To actually be a player that a kid looks up to, that’s pretty cool.”
Nathan Lurie, apparently an avid Browns fan, wanted to learn more about Schwartz for the class’ wax museum project, which required an essay in Hebrew and English.
So Lurie’s teacher got ahold of Schwartz’s mom, who notified Schwartz the student wanted to speak with Schwartz for research.
A phone call would have sufficed. Instead, Schwartz and his girlfriend, Brooke, showed up at the school unprompted and spent two hours there in February.
“The kid absolutely freaked out,” Schwartz said. “It was pretty cool. I surprised him.”
In a letter forwarded to Schwartz’s agency, Priority Sports, Lurie’s teacher called Schwartz’s surprise “probably the highlight of my teaching career.”
“Mitchell spent 45 minutes answering questions, taking pictures and signing autographs,” Donell Newman said in the letter. “He was so patient with the kids. He spoke about the importance of doing well in school and working hard. In today’s world, you hear about self-centered athletes doing bad things. Mitchell Schwartz is a shining star.”
Schwartz also expressed the importance of reading, and how it takes you “anywhere.” Schwartz showed the class what it means to be a “mensch” (a person of integrity and honor), Newman said.
Schwartz is admittedly a low-key guy who shuns attention. But this visit was too good to pass up.
“I tend to get a little shy in those situations but I’m starting to get more comfortable,” Schwartz said. “Seeing their reaction, you sense how much it means to them.”