The federal investigation into owner Jimmy Haslam's family-run business has been another black eye for the Cleveland Browns organization. But Haslam fixed one embarrassment for the Browns on Wednesday, officially mending the relationship with Jim Brown.
The Browns named Brown a special adviser, a role that will put the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in the Cleveland community and in the Browns locker room as an adviser.
Brown, 77, has been estranged from the Browns since 2010, when former president Mike Holmgren fired him as an adviser to then-owner Randy Lerner. After that, Brown boycotted the team's ceremony to launch a Ring of Honor as well as the last two Legends Weekends, where former players come back to town to attend a game.
Last October, the same month Haslam was unanimously approved to take ownership of the Browns, he reached out to Brown to start the process of welcoming him back. On Wednesday, Haslam made it official and even took a picture with Brown in front of the Ring of Honor.
“I am excited to be back and a part of a franchise that will always be very close to my heart,” Brown said. “I want to thank Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner for giving me this chance to return to the organization and the great city of Cleveland, whose fans are the best in the NFL and who always have supported me. I look forward to getting started and once again make a difference, not just with the franchise but in the Northeast Ohio community.”
Brown said he had no animosity toward the previous regime but he took a shot at Lerner's absentee ownership when he said a team can't be successful if ownership isn't around. This is where Haslam gets it. He is from Tennessee but he has tried to show the utmost respect to the Browns' history.
"Jim Brown is one of the most iconic figures, not just in Cleveland, but the entire NFL,” Haslam said. “His playing career still stands as one of the most remarkable in league annals, and his work in the community since his retirement, especially with our youth, has been just as impressive. He will be a tremendous asset to our organization and we are thrilled that he will be representing the Browns in many different capacities.”
Haslam called it "a very special day in Cleveland Browns history."
Brown has Haslam to thank for it because he made it happen.