In his first year in Japan, American quarterback Colby Cameron had a successful season and was rewarded at the end with a visit from his family from back home.
Nearly three weeks ago at the Japan X Bowl, the X League championship, his parents flew over to Japan from Southern California and witnessed their son leading his Fujitsu Frontiers to the title.
And on Saturday at Tokyo Dome, this time it was Cameron’s older brother and Cleveland Browns tight end, Jordan Cameron, who was visiting to watch how his brother was doing on the other side of the Pacific at the Rice Bowl national championship against the collegiate champion Kwansei Gakuin University Fighters.
The Frontiers grabbed the Rice Bowl title, too. But unfortunately, Jordan, who said he and his brother were like best friends growing up, wasn’t able to see Colby in pads and a helmet. Colby hurt his throwing shoulder in the Japan X Bowl.
“I knew when I bought my ticket, he wasn’t going to play,” Jordan said before the Rice Bowl kicked off. “But it’s exciting to see him, his element out here. Everyone’s been awesome, the team’s been awesome. So I’m excited for them that they are playing in this game today.”
Actually, Jordan, who was drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, had no idea how Colby would do when he told his older brother he was coming to Japan early last year (he said the brothers talk a few times a week on FaceTime).
“When he told me during the spring time, he said, ‘I’m coming to Japan,’ and I said, ‘For what?’ ” said Jordan, a University of Southern California product. “And he said, ‘Football,’ and I was like, ‘American football?’ I was confused, I didn’t know they even had that here.
“But obviously being out here now, all these people in the stands, it’s very cool, a very cool thing.”
The Rice Bowl drew an impressive attendance of 30,361 at the Big Egg.
Colby was obviously disappointed that he wasn’t able to suit up and play in front of his brother. But he thought it was still worth inviting Jordan to Japan.
“You want to show what you’re doing out here,” Colby said. “The good thing was, he’s been able to watch games (of Fujitsu) on TV, on the Internet. He was like, ‘Man, I really want to see you play.’ But I think he’s proud of the fact that we’ve accomplished here and the style of offense we’ve put in. So I think he’s just happy with how we are playing.”
Jordan, who accumulated 424 yards receiving for a pair of touchdowns playing in 10 games for the Browns in the 2014 season, left for Japan after his final regular season game away against the Baltimore Ravens (lost 20-10) and arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday. Colby said that they had a Japanese style New Year’s lunch while Jordan also visited Fujitsu’s practice.
After all, even with his brother standing on the sidelines, Jordan, a one-time Pro Bowler, seemed to enjoy the game and his first trip to Japan.
“I’m impressed,” Jordan said after the Rice Bowl game, when asked his impressions of the Japanese game. “There’s a lot of good players. It was fun to watch, both of the teams played so hard. It means so much to them, so very impressive.
“They did some trickery stuff. We don’t see them every day in the NFL. So it was a fun football to watch.”
Colby said, “(Jordan) said he didn’t expect the level would be so high. He said No. 11 for KG (Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kei Saito, who threw for 299 yards). He said he was a good player. I think he was very shocked at the level of play.”
Asked if he wants Jordan to come back to see his brother take the gridiron, Colby said with a smile, “Of course.”
Colby, however, wanted Jordan’s Browns to make it to the playoffs, which hasn’t happened since the 2002 season. If they had made it, Jordan wouldn’t have been able to come to Japan.
“No doubt, that’s a huge thing,” Colby said of booking a spot in the NFL playoffs. “It’s a win-win situation. If they don’t (make the postseason), he can come over here. If they do, I’m happy for him.”
Although they missed a playoff berth, the Browns had one of their better seasons in recent years with a 7-9 record to finish fourth in the American Football Conference North.
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