Reporting Daryl Ruiter
AVON (92.3 The Fan) – Jim Brown has returned to the team and town where he became a legend.
Following a 2-year estrangement from the franchise after Mike Holmgren relieved him of his advisory role with the team, Brown returned to participate in Alumni Weekend, which includes induction of former teammate Ernie Green into the Legends Club.
“I’m forever a Cleveland Brown,” Brown said. “When I ran the ball what I did was I gave you the best I could give you and I never missed a game.
“So when Art Modell talked about me, he never talked about how good I was or anything like that, he talked about how he got his monies worth because I didn’t miss a game.”
The 76-year-old Brown made it clear that it was Green, who cleared the way for Brown in the backfield and also helped carry the Browns to the NFL title in 1964, that brought him back to Cleveland.
“If it were not for Ernie Green being inducted, I might not be here,” Brown said. “Ernie played his part. We should definitely go support that and ring bells because too much emphasis and credit is given to the so called superstars and other people in a team sport such as football are always over looked and the championship team was a team effort.
“27-0, well we had a defense that day. We got a lot of credit for the 27 but the defense didn’t get too much credit for the zero.”
Brown is hopeful that he will be able to rekindle a relationship with the organization regardless of who is in charge.
“I’m stuck with being No. 32 of the Cleveland Browns,” Brown said. “I can’t do anything about it and I don’t want to do anything about it. If you didn’t like the way I ran the ball that’s one thing, if you didn’t always like my politics, but fact is we are married because of the history. If I can be a part of the development of a new winning attitude and help get some victories, man, that would be fantastic.
“Can you imagine having a championship team here again?”
He plans to speak or meet with Holmgren over the weekend to clear the air between them.
“I miss being around,” Brown said. “I have so many great memories here. I’m glad to be sitting here in Cleveland, regardless of what anybody thinks.”
Brown felt disrespected by Holmgren because his contract stipulated that he answered directly to Randy Lerner. It was Holmgren who informed Brown that his role with the team was to change and he’d no longer be directly communicating with Lerner and that did not sit well with him.
“I had an agreement with the Browns and a part of the agreement was I answered to no one except the owner,” Brown said. “Randy and I never had a talk. Holmgren and I had the talk that Randy and I should have had.
“If a man doesn’t sit down with you and he sends another man to sit down with you, you know that’s not going to be a good conversation because when Randy flew out to be with me to talk about being a part of the Browns no one was there but him and I. So in my mind I felt that whatever would happen, it would be between him and I.”
Prior to practice Friday, Holmgren said he is glad Brown is in town for the festivities and he is looking forward to meeting with him.
“He’s one of my longtime idols,” Holmgren said. “He’s a very very important part of this organization. I’m really very happy he’s coming in for the weekend and I hope to get a chance to visit with him.”
Sunday will be the first time that Brown will be able to look up at the face of the upper deck and see his name on the ‘Ring of Honor’ flanked by Paul Brown t the left and Paul Warfield to the right.
He skipped the unveiling ceremony in 2010 following the fallout with Holmgren and the team.
“I’m not looking forward to seeing my name anywhere,” Brown said. “Validation has never been something that I’ve looked for in my life. I don’t need to be validated.”
Brown will also meet with incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III on Saturday and discuss a possible role with the team going forward.
“What an opportunity to be able to sit down with him and, for him to express himself and I can express myself and that’s all one can ask at this time,” Brown said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Brown said that he wasn’t surprised to learn that Lerner was selling the Browns because Randy didn’t seem to want to own the team – not like his late father Al did.
“I suspected that would probably happen at some time,” Brown said. “I wasn’t surprised. I was glad for him because Randy is a good human being but I don’t know that he really wanted to be an owner. I can’t say that he didn’t, but I didn’t see that particular thing in him.
“His father was different. In the world of battling for championships and being an owner, and the criticism that goes with it, and what you have to do to win the fans over and the media, you know some people aren’t cut out for that.”
As for calling Trent Richardson “ordinary” on draft day, Brown said the comments became a “firestorm coming out of the mountains.” He hopes that he motivated the Browns’ rookie back and he was impressed with his 2 touchdown performance last week.
“Why wouldn’t you love to see a running back make two, three, four or five moves and shed those tacklers,” Brown said. “Because ultimately a running back has to get rid of tacklers without his blockers being a part of it. So I was happy to see him show that kind of talent.
“I saw a flash of the talent and I loved it.”
As Brown reminisced about his days in a Browns uniform, he laughed and joked about retiring sitting on a tank in England while filming ‘The Dirty Dozen.’ He’s always appreciated that unhappy fans still welcomed him back after that.
Brown, who has always been candid and matter of fact about football and social issues, also knows the legacy that he has left behind.
“Want to know what that is,” Brown said with a smile. “‘64 Championship. ‘65 MVP. 29 years old. Racquel Welch my leading lady.”
As a player, Brown went out on top and on his terms.
That’s the way he lives his life to this day.