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Jamie Gillan: The Scottish Hammer who is more than just a cool nickname

Jamie Gillan, punter for the Cleveland Browns.
Jamie Gillan, punter for the Cleveland Browns.

What started as a high-school moniker has fast become a way of life for Jamie Gillan.

The Scottish Hammer, a nickname given to him by his Leonardtown High coach Brian Woodburn, has become a persona in itself, growing arms and legs and making Gillan into a household name.

Gillan is entering his third year in the NFL as punter for the Cleveland Browns. That gradual increase in experience has led the 24-year-old to branch out, comfortable with the platform afforded to him in one of the world’s biggest sports leagues.

He has a partnership with Cleveland sportswear company Szabo Apparel, with a range of Scottish Hammer-themed T-shirts where proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity for US military veterans.

The latest release is a “Punts & Pints” number; “I like a pint and I punt, so I figured we’d make some shirts about it and raise some money for the Wounded Warrior Project.”

That allowed an almost-seamless transition into the world of beer. Working with local brewery Sibling Revelry, a Hammer Lyte lager was released this summer with a portion of proceeds going to a children’s charity in Cleveland called Jeremy Cares.

He is also starting his own charity called Hammer’s Helpers, with the aim of putting on fundraising events to help boys and girls’ clubs and less fortunate areas of Cleveland.

“Having the platform of the NFL allows you to do that kind of stuff,” said Gillan. “I spend six months of the year doing nothing but train. I might as well use that time to help out; I’ve been helping out certain parts of Cleveland without the money, by hanging out with them, but I’ve started this charity and raised some money with the beer with Sibling Revelry.

“If it ends up doing well, I can really help out certain parts of Cleveland. I can buy TVs for boys and girls’ clubs or whatever it is they need, give money to local charities and veterans’ societies.

“I figured I’d like to do that and I’d like to help out. Now that I’ve got a platform to do that, I might as well utilise that.”

And the beer has to be good?

“I think it is. It’s got electrolytes in it, it’s a really light lager. When you’re out here in 80 degrees watching a football game, the last thing you want is a dark beer.

“Sibling will have it on tap but not tell people what it is; you don’t want someone to say it’s good just because my name is associated with it.

“It’s selling well and on the back of the can, you can scan the barcode and donate as much money as you want. It’s pretty cool.”

The Scottish Hammer came from his supreme ability to kick a football, honed from his days playing rugby at Highland RFC in Inverness and Merchiston Castle in Edinburgh.

It stuck all the way through his college days at Arkansas Pine Bluff and into the NFL, where he debuted in 2019 as an undrafted free agent with the Browns.

“I am surprised (how far the nickname has gone) but I’m going to take it and run with it. I might as well have some fun with it, right?

“As long as I don’t lose focus on my job, which is to punt the ball. But that’ll never happen.”

Gillan and the Browns are a week out from starting the 2021 season, where they head on the road to the defending AFC champions Kansas City.

They ended their long play-off hiatus last season and optimism abounds as to where this team can go.

Jamie Gillan is entering his third season with the Cleveland Browns.
Jamie Gillan is entering his third season with the Cleveland Browns.

It is also a contract year for Gillan, who will see his rookie deal expire at the end of the season, but that adds little pressure to his shoulders.

“There’s no pressure because it’s not about me, it’s about the team. It’s a business at the end of the day; I’m not thinking about the future, contracts, any of that, because anything can happen.

“The aim is just to be more consistent. I know it’s hard to punt here but I can do it. It’s good fun. I just hope everybody achieves their goals, comes together as a team and we go all the way.”

The start of the new season has been littered with debates about players needing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A number of players have expressed reticence about receiving the vaccine but the majority of the league has received one or both doses.

The NFL stated it would support a vaccine mandate and it has removed some of the safeguards for teams this year, with no scope for rearranging postponed games due to Covid outbreaks among unvaccinated players and the imposition of forfeits and fines.

Gillan’s own stance is he will do whatever is necessary to play football. That is his job. But you get the feeling it could have been handled better.

Jamie Gillan, the starting Cleveland Browns punter.
Jamie Gillan, the starting Cleveland Browns punter.

“Whatever they say – if I need to get vaccinated so I can play, alright. I don’t really care.

“I’m not going to solve any problems by complaining about it. I’ve got my own views on it but at the end of the day I want to play football.

“In order to play football the way I want to I’ve got to be vaccinated. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I’m not complaining, I get paid to suit up on Sunday.”

As with all aspects of his life, Gillan takes things in his stride.

“I’m a go-with-the-flow guy. Whatever I’m asked to do, I’ll do it.

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