Jim Brown reunites with Browns
The Cleveland Browns welcomed back one of their all-time great players, naming Jim Brown a special adviser Wednesday.
Brown, 77, will have a significant role in community relations and in the locker room as a mentor to players. The Pro Football Hall of Fame running back had been estranged from the Browns since 2010, when former team president Mike Holmgren had Brown removed as an adviser to Randy Lerner.
"I'm very happy to be back," Brown said at a news conference Wednesday. "I just want to say emphatically that I like the new ownership, I respect the new ownership and I will stand by the new ownership come hell or high water. I will be doing everything in my power to help the Cleveland Browns be successful."
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam called it "a very special day in Cleveland Browns history."
"He's not only the most famous Cleveland Brown of all time and best player that's ever played here," Haslam said. "One of the reasons the Browns remain so popular is when a lot of us were growing up, they followed No. 32 and he was their hero. So to have 32 back on our team and working with us and being part of not just the Browns but the Cleveland community is tremendously important."
Brown said he will be visible at Browns headquarters and at games.
"You'll see as much of me as [the Browns] can stand," Brown said.
Never one to mince his words, Brown promised to continue being himself in his new position with Haslam, who bought the franchise last year from Randy Lerner.
"I wouldn't be sitting here if there was not a relationship between the two of us," Brown said, with Haslam seated to his left at a news conference in FirstEnergy Stadium. "Jimmy doesn't bite his tongue, so I kind of like that. I try not to bite mine, as most of you know. But I think with Jimmy I will be a little more under control."
"I doubt that," Haslam said with a laugh.
The return of Brown comes at a time when Haslam's family-run truck stop business is under federal investigation. Haslam sat next to Brown throughout the news conference but wasn't asked any questions about the ongoing FBI probe.
Two employees of the truck stop chain owned by Haslam pleaded guilty Wednesday. Regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. Regional accounts representative Ashley Smith Judd also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Brown, who has also had his share of legal troubles, vowed his full support of Cleveland's owner.
"The greatest thing I can say is I'm here because I believe in him," Brown said of Haslam. "I believe in this man."
Brown is the team's career rushing leader with 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns. He retired in 1965 at the peak of his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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