Former Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius provides a city lessons on dirty laundry: Phillip Morris

September 19, 2018

Former Browns receiver Joe Jurevicius provides a city lessons on dirty laundry: Phillip Morris

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius was robbed last weekend at his home in Gates Mills. An armed robber appeared without warning at the back of his house and ordered the retired NFL player to give him money. The panicked 911 call of Jurevicius’ wife revealed the horror that her family endured during the ordeal.

When news of the robbery became public, local media raced to get Jurevicius’ thoughts on the discomfort of staring down the barrel of a gun. He lives, after all, in one of the more affluent and presumably safer communities in Ohio.

What Jurevicius offered the public is one of the more appropriate “no comments” I’ve ever heard. It was a disciplined response from a man who made a fine career of withstanding violent attacks on a football field.

“I support the police department. I support the FBI. I support the American flag,” Jurevicius, 43, said in an interview with Fox 8. That measured comment is one that law enforcement throughout Northeast Ohio should take to heart as the region nears the end of another bloody summer.

The last few days have been particularly violent in Greater Cleveland. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least seven people had been killed in a 48 hour stretch, all of them within the Cleveland city limits.

Each of the deaths will be mourned by different people for different reasons. However, none of the deaths stain the collective soul of a city more than the senseless murder of Eucebia Garcia, a 94-year-old woman visiting relatives in Cleveland’s Slavic Village. The great-grandmother was planning to return to her home in Honduras at the end of the month. Instead, her family is now planning her burial.

Garcia died from blunt force trauma to the head Monday morning when a man invaded the home where she was staying and attacked her and Marina Garcia, her 74-year-old daughter. The younger Garcia remains hospitalized at MetroHealth Medical Center with bleeding on the brain. Meanwhile, the family is left grieving and wondering how their matriarch could survive the horrors of Honduras but not the streets of Cleveland.

“We’re just upset at everything right now. They didn’t deserve this,” Chris Cinolotac told Cleveland.com reporter Adam Ferrise, about the brutal attack on his relatives.

“Whoever did this went too far. They didn’t need to do this,” he added.

There has never been a more understated epitaph. What kind of vermin invades a home and attacks a 94-year-old woman and her 74-year-old daughter? And for what return? An iPad and some jewelry!

Sometimes, it seems that our region is overrun by cutthroats who engage in crimes of opportunity with the same vigor as they engage in premeditated and fatal violence. That is why Jurevicius’ affirmation of support for law enforcement is both timely, heartfelt and necessary. Death literally stalked him at his door.

When news of Jurevicius’ ordeal emerged, I recalled reading an impressive statement he made in a story describing his entrepreneurial dreams of becoming a laundromat and dry-cleaning mogul after his playing days ended. In 2015, he spoke about the search for courage to change professions and walk a tightrope with no safety net.

“It takes a lot of guts to get out there and do something that you’re not comfortable with once you’ve been in a certain genre of work for a long time. When you’re looking to do something on the opposite end of the spectrum, it takes guts. I would encourage people to reinvent themselves,” Jurevicius, a Chardon native and Lake Catholic grad, told Plain Dealer reporter Marcia Pledger in 2015.

Police arrested a 24-year-old South Euclid man Sunday in connection with the assault on Jurevicius and another homeowner in Gates Mills. The convicted robber was released from prison last May and was still wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet as one of the terms of his probation.

Here’s hoping this habitual criminal will find the “guts” to reinvent himself during his likely re-incarceration. But if history is any guide, prison will only serve as a spin cycle that returns more dirt to the streets.

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