Even a non-sports fan living in and around Cleveland knows the name Jim Brown. They know what he meant to Cleveland Browns football. The last time the Browns won an NFL Championship was 1964 and Jim Brown was the carrying the ball.
So, having Jim Brown involved in some capacity within the organization is not only appreciated by fans and Brown himself, you might say it’s expected.
The contentious relationship between Brown and new General Manager Mike Holmgren, however, has turned attention away from the team’s exciting pre-season performance thus far to this unwelcomed sideshow.
Brown says he will not participate in the Holmgren-created “Ring Of Honor” ceremony that will take place during halftime of the home opener on Sept. 19. The 16 Browns who are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be honored. Everyone still living has committed to attend except for Brown. Why?
Newschannel 5 Sports Director Andy Baskin posed that question to former Browns wide receiver Reggie Rucker Tuesday night during the 11 p.m. newscast. Rucker, a close friend and business associate of Brown who speaks with him almost daily, said that Brown is “hurt” by the way he is being treated by the organization.
Brown wrote a letter to Holmgren on Monday. In the letter, obtained by Newschannel 5, Brown wrote that Holmgren never brought up Brown’s former role as an advisor to team owner Randy Lerner when the two men initially met this summer. Apparently, Brown and Lerner had an unwritten “contract” where the only person Brown would answer to is Lerner, himself.
Brown basically said that his new role under Holmgren would be nothing more than a “mascot” for the team.
Nothing in the letter alluded to Jim Brown’s charity foundation, which is reportedly receiving less funding from the team than in previous years — leading to speculation that Brown’s departure as an advisor is monetarily related.
But if you read the entire letter, Brown gets personal at times. He refers to Holmgren as a “west side guy” and that Brown is an “east side guy”.
What does that have to do with anything?
The Browns are in a transitional period. They have a new GM, several new players and a new outlook. They are out with the old and in with the new.
But they should not be out with Jim Brown. Nor should Jim Brown be out with the Browns.