CLEVELAND — New Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam III wants the greatest Browns player of them all to have a role with his team.
Haslam spent an hour Saturday night meeting with Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who had been estranged from the Browns for more than two years after he was relieved of his duties as a senior adviser under outgoing owner Randy Lerner. While having dinner together along with their wives, Haslam and Brown connected and came away agreeing to stay in touch.
“Jim and I both agreed that it makes total sense for him to be involved with the Browns, and we both agreed it didn’t make sense to rush into anything,” Haslam said Sunday before the Browns were beaten 24-14 by the Buffalo Bills. “We agreed to talk on an as-needed basis and get together at some to-be-determined time in the future. He travels a lot and we travel a lot and hopefully we’ll find a time to get together.
“But I had a really enjoyable visit. Besides being a great football player, he’s a great man.”
Brown, too, came away feeling positive.
“We had a fantastic meeting from my point of view,” the 76-year-old Brown said. “Very special, very insightful, very open. No trickery, just straight-out honesty. He’s willing to learn, understand certain principles, done a lot of homework on a lot of individuals. It couldn’t have been a better meeting for me.”
Brown had stayed away from team functions for two years. In 2010, he boycotted a ceremony when he and 16 Browns Hall of Famers were inducted into a ring of honor at the stadium. But after weekend of seeing former teammates and old friends, Brown was glad to be back in Cleveland, his NFL home for nine seasons.
“People said `welcome back,’ and that was a very nice thing to hear,” Brown said. “Because ultimately there’s nothing I can be but a Brown. I didn’t play for anybody else, I didn’t set any records anywhere else, I didn’t win any championships anywhere else. So I’m stuck with you guys, whether you want me or not. There’s nothing you can do. This is my home.”
At halftime, Brown was on the field as former teammate Ernie Green was inducted into the Browns’ legends club along with former safety Clarence Scott.
During the weekend, Brown also met with Browns president Mike Holmgren. It was Holmgren who had offered Brown a reduced position with the team in 2010, leading to the franchise rushing leader’s split with the team.
“It was positive,” Brown said of his talk with Holmgren. “The interesting thing is that all parties seem to be on the same page from the standpoint of the position that we’re in. The team has been sold. It becomes official sometime next month and we’re all fighting for the same thing, which is to win.
“So Mike was very gracious in his conversation with me and the interesting thing is what I’m most interested in is to be a part of winning. It was so funny because we were talking about a lot of things and the thing came up about well whatever we talk about or whatever great ideas we have, we’re gonna have to win.”
Following Sunday’s game, Brown finally got a chance to speak in person to rookie running back Trent Richardson. Before the Browns drafted the former Alabama star, Brown created controversy by calling Richardson “ordinary.” Brown has since said his words were meant to motivate the 22-year-old.
Richardson was thrilled to have the chance to speak with arguably the best running back in NFL history.
“It was a shaking moment for me,” said Richardson, who was overwhelmed that Brown wanted to meet with him. “He said, `You’re going in the right direction.’ Just seeing him, I was real nervous. I didn’t know how the outcome was gonna be, but at the same time, it’s Jim Brown.”
Richardson said Brown’s words inspired him.
“He’s a person that loves people and loves being around people,” said Richardson, who was held to 27 yards on 12 carries by the Bills. “He’s the type of guy that’s an icon, always been an icon, always been a fighter, always been a winner. So one of the powerful things he said to me is `keep trying no matter what. Don’t get to the point where you’re settling for anything. Don’t give up. Keep going no matter what. Keep striving.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.