Warren Football Legends moves to mid-August

The annual Warren Football Legends celebration dinner and golf outing has a few major changes for 2019 — the fourth year of the event — but a couple of things that haven’t changed are that all proceeds benefit the Warren G. Harding football program and former players from Harding and Western Reserve high schools will be recognized.

The big changes are the date — it has moved from late September to the weekend of Aug. 17-18 — and a new theme, The Rivalry: Browns vs. Steelers.

The event’s organizers — co-chairs Ray Yannucci, former publisher of Browns News Illustrated, and Virginia Holmes of the Warren Gridiron Club; and Hall of Famer and Warren native Paul Warfield, the host of the event — have hit the jackpot the first year by securing commitments from Greg Pruitt, Franco Harris and Mel Blount.

“With the Browns resurgent, or at least it looks that way, the rivalry, which had simmered down since expansion, looks more exciting,” Yannucci said. “I believe now with Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry for the Browns, and with the Steelers nearly always being in contention, the rivalry will become as heated as before, when at one time it was one of the iconic rivalries in sports.

“We want to bring in ex-players from both teams to relive those memories of that rivalry. I believe that will be the highlight of the two days.”

The celebration dinner is scheduled Aug. 17, a Saturday, and the golf outing is the next day, both at Trumbull Country Club. The cost for each event is $100 per person, but a combination package for both is $175.

The title sponsor is The Downtown Development Group and Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. is a Hall of Fame sponsor.

The dinner package includes a cocktail hour, dinner and desserts, followed by the Rivalry, with music for listening and dancing afterward.

Pruitt and Warfield will represent the Browns, and Hall of Famers Harris and Blount will talk from the Steeler viewpoint as the former stars share memories and thoughts of the Rivalry.

At the golf outing on Sunday, all foursomes will get a chance for a photo with Warfield on the third tee. The event includes all the usual amenities and separate competitions and prizes of a golf outing, with the winning team picking up $1,000. Registration is at 10 a.m. with a shotgun start at noon. The format is 18-hole, four-person scramble.

As mentioned previously, former football players for Harding and/or Western Reserve who are in attendance will be recognized at both the dinner and the golf outing. That includes those who played for Harding before Western Reserve existed and those who played after the two schools were merged.

The event has been successful for the Harding program in its first three years not only through the money raised, but also in the way it has focused on the outstanding football history of Warren schools. When WGH athletes take the field at Mollenkopf Stadium, they can take pride in the numerous outstanding football players who preceded them.

The Rivalry format certainly is a change, but one that seems likely to have similar success in the future — especially if the Browns get things turned around as it looks like they are doing.

The former players who have committed this year are among the most popular for the respective teams’ fan bases, and if the organizers can continue to book similar former stars, the event has a solid future.

More information is available and reservations can be made at wghsports.com, which is linked to any social media platform. Those interested also can contact Yannucci at ryannucci@yahoo.com or at 216-870-1036, or Holmes at warrengrid@gmail.com.

In addition, there are several sponsorship opportunities, for both the golf outing and dinner, the Rivalry, golf shirts, golf prizes and others. Contact Yannucci for information on sponsorships.

Smack dab in the middle of the NFL preseason and with golfing weather still around? What better time to talk Browns and Steelers over dinner and on the course.

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