Jim Brown reuniting with Browns
CLEVELAND -- Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns are getting back together.
The Hall of Fame running back, who has had a rift with his former team for several years, plans to take part in alumni events this weekend when the Browns host the Buffalo Bills.
Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis said the 76-year-old Brown recently informed the team that he will be in Cleveland for Sunday's game, when the Browns will induct former players Ernie Green and Clarence Scott into their legends club. Brown also told former teammates of his intentions at the funeral for former owner Art Modell in Baltimore last week.
It will be Brown's first time at Cleveland Browns Stadium in more than two years. He has been at odds with the club since team president Mike Holmgren removed him from his role as an adviser to owner Randy Lerner, who is selling the franchise to Jimmy Haslam III. Holmgren offered Brown a reduced role with the team, but he declined.
Brown was so hurt by Holmgren's decision to change his position with the team that he boycotted a ceremony in 2010, when the Browns unveiled a ring of honor inside their stadium. Brown's absence overshadowed and diminished the event, and his estranged relationship with the Browns has been a sore point for all parties involved.
Always outspoken, Brown also made headlines earlier this year when he criticized the Browns for drafting running back Trent Richardson in the first round. Brown described Richardson as "ordinary," and the man who helped revolutionize the running back position said he "didn't see anything outstanding" about the rookie back.
On Sunday, Richardson rushed for 109 yards and scored two touchdowns in his second NFL game as the Browns lost 34-27 at Cincinnati. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Richardson became the first Browns rookie since the AFL/NFL merger (1970) with 100-plus rushing yards, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game.
Richardson has said Brown's comments have motivated him.
In a telephone interview Monday with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brown said he was impressed with Richardson's performance against the Bengals.
"I only saw highlights of the game, but the one he scored on the pass showed an ability that they drafted him for," Brown told the newspaper.
Brown told the Plain Dealer that he wasn't trying to "discourage anybody" with his comments earlier this year about Richardson. But he said Monday that Richardson still has to prove he has what it takes to carry the Browns.
"Richardson has to show he can consistently carry a team," Brown told the newspaper. "The Browns have had some players that looked like they could, and it didn't work out. (Peyton) Hillis had a lot of talent. I was surprised we got him for what we did (for Brady Quinn)."
Hillis left the Browns after last season, signing a contract with the Chiefs. Interestingly, Quinn also is with the Chiefs, as the team's backup quarterback.
In June, Holmgren said he was open to renewing a relationship with Brown.
"I would like Jim Brown to come and be a part of this and feel comfortable doing that and I would welcome him with open arms," Holmgren said. "How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn't changed and will never change. I would love to see Jim Brown walk in right now or come to the Legends thing, be a part of this."
It's not known whether Brown will meet with Holmgren while he's in town over the weekend. The two are certain to cross paths as the Browns have an alumni golf outing scheduled for Friday, a private dinner at the stadium on Saturday, and Green and Scott will be inducted into the legends club during halftime on Sunday.
Brown rushed for 12,312 yards in nine seasons with the Browns before he unexpectedly retired to pursue an acting career. He is the franchise's career leader in rushing yards, attempts and touchdowns.
Brown's No. 32 was retired by the Browns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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