Published January 14, 2015
That's why the former Browns linebacker, who earned the nickname "Bam Bam" by cracking his shoulder pads in practice, is using his football glory days in his campaign to keep his job as county judge.
Ambrose, appointed four months ago to the bench in Cuyahoga County, is distributing 4-by-6-inch cards with a photo of him in his Browns uniform on one side and a smaller photo of him in his judge's robe on the back.
"I thought that that was obviously something that would be an attention-getter," Ambrose said. "It was set up like a football card."
Ambrose, 51, faced Hall of Fame running backs Earl Campbell and Franco Harris as a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns from 1975-85. He said his new job, combined with the pressure of campaigning, is even more difficult.
"It's like two-a-days," he said, referring to grueling football practices.
Ambrose started law school during the NFL strike in 1982. At 6 feet, 230 pounds in his playing days, Ambrose got some amused looks when he first walked into class.
He finished his degree in 1987, two years after injuries ended his football career, and practiced business litigation at a law firm.
Ambrose, a Republican, faces Democrat John J. Russo, who also has some name recognition going for him. There are five Russos on the bench in Cuyahoga County and his cousin Frank Russo is the county auditor.
Russo, 39, a criminal defense attorney, said he hopes voters will look at judicial ratings by various bar associations and not just vote on name recognition.
"I'd like to think that voters are educating themselves," he said.