CLEVELAND -- Center Mike Baab, whose trade to the New England Patriots at the end of summer camp in 1988 sparked a rebellion on the Cleveland Browns, wants to come back to his old team.
In an interview published in The Plain Dealer Wednesday, Baab -- who was left unprotected by Patriots last week -- said returning to Cleveland 'would be a pleasant scenario for me.'
'I still live here,' he said. 'My wife works here. I have many, many friends here.'
But he added: 'I will go to the situation where I have the best chance of playing. I'm not going to pin it down to Cleveland, but that would be nice. I just want a fair shot to start.'
Baab was traded to the Patriots one week before the start of the 1988 season, when Coach Marty Schottenheimer decided second-year center Gregg Rakoczy would start and Baab refused to accept a backup role.
When informed of the trade, Baab stormed out of the team's headquarters, refusing to talk to reporters. Several team members were upset and the Medina County Gazette reported at the time that quarterback Bernie Kosar strongly criticized Schottenheimer at a team meeting.
The team's offensive line has never regained the chemistry it had in the 1986 and 1987 seasons, a development many blamed on the loss of Baab. In 1988, the Browns were forced to start four different quarterbacks because of five injuries -- four attributable to protection breakdowns.
'We had to play well together because none of us were studs,' Baab said. 'I'm not going to sit here and take credit for anything, but Danny (Fike), Paul (Farren), Cody (Risien) and Larry (Williams, who signed with the Chargers after the 1988 season) were some of my best friends in the world.
'Sure we can get it (the chemistry) back. I don't want to say it was magic, but it was something. For a while, we were pretty damn good. Bernie never got hurt.'
Browns executive vice president Ernie Accorsi was asked if Cleveland would be interested in reacquiring Baab.
'We'd be interested in him ... very interested,' he said.
And it appears Baab could have a shot at a starting role.
The Browns were decimated at guard this past season, with both starters -- Dan Fike and Ted Banker -- going down with serious knee injuries. Neither is expected to return before the middle of the 1990 season and there's been speculation coaches would move Rakoczy to guard.
Baab said he was surprised the Patriots left him unprotected, since he started 28 of 32 games at New England. He said Coach Ray Berry told him the club intends to move 302-pound tackle Danny Villa to center next season.