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News » Taking in a big-picture view of Cleveland's sights

Taking in a big-picture view of Cleveland's sights

Taking in a big-picture view of Cleveland's sights

Johnathan Holifield may have played with the Cincinnati Bengals only from 1988 to 1989, but the former running back has a 1988 AFC Championship ring.

Maybe he'll bring some Football luck to Cleveland, but Holifield, 44, a lawyer, is here for greater purpose. Since September 2007, he has been the president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, founded in 1917. It provides a broad range of programs including job and personal-finance counseling, small-business development, student tours to historically black colleges and GED and computer training. (Go to ulcleveland.org.)

Your wife, Toni, is from Pittsburgh. Who's your team, Browns or Steelers?

With six Super Bowl rings, Toni will never, ever give up the Steelers. For me it's an entirely different matter. I grew up with the historically hapless Detroit Lions and was a player with the struggling Cincinnati Bengals. Add in a dose of shameless pandering to the local populace for good measure, and I declare that my team is the Cleveland Browns . Go Browns!

Name a piece of Cleveland architecture you admire.

The architecture I admire most is a combination of both landscape and building - the historic grouping of public buildings connected with green space on the Cleveland Mall. The mall is a landscape architectural wonder.

What's your favorite ethnic restaurant?

I enjoy having lunch at the Lancer [Steak House] on Carnegie where I usually order the perch sandwich. The food and the hospitality are wonderful, but I really fell in love with the place on Nov. 4, 2008 - election night.

There were 1,500 people gath-

ered there to witness world history. The deep connection between the Lancer and our communities is perhaps its most endearing quality.

You and Toni are going out on a Saturday night. What's the plan?

Until 6 p.m., going to Ace Hardware on Coventry for paint and supplies. We haven't been in our house in Cleveland Heights for too long. I have a lot of projects.

After that? I am so basic. I enjoy a good petite filet, medium. I had one at XO (Prime Steaks). It was just excellent.

Name a favorite Cleveland view.

[From University Circle.] I was on the 12th floor of University Hospitals - I had no idea how green the city was. Chris Warren [Cleveland chief of regional development] was with me. He told me that's why they call Cleveland "The Forest City." You can't appreciate the city's green infrastructure from the ground.

You have a free weekend afternoon. Where will you go?

More than likely, I will go to Edgewater Park. It provides a tranquil view of the downtown Cleveland skyline, which is enhanced by the waters of Lake Erie. It's a great place for reflection, introspection and creativity.

Give us a Browns prediction.

The Browns are not that far away from being an elite team. They should win at least 10 games in 2009.

What library do you frequent?

I have not yet frequented local libraries, but I have had a chance to talk with the most engaging library director I have ever met: Mr. Andrew Venable Jr., recently retired from Cleveland Public Library. After only five minutes with him, I became a true believer in Cleveland Public Library as a unique and valuable community asset.

What's your message to young Clevelanders?

It is simple: If you put a low value on yourself, as evidenced by your conduct and beliefs, rest absolutely assured that no one else will raise the price you've set.

What's at the top of your list for Urban League to accomplish this year?

Two things top my list for Urban League to accomplish. First, achieve financial stability, which is especially difficult in this tough economic environment.

Second, launch economic, education and social projects that help individuals and communities connect with larger-scale programs. The advantages many of us enjoy, many of our fellow citizens do not because they are not connected.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: scrump@plaind.com, 216-999-5478

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 17, 2009

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