PHOENIX: Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will have a formal role with the Browns again, owner Jimmy Haslam said Tuesday at the annual NFL meeting.
Brown attended the owners meeting because of his involvement in the newly established Common Good Fund, which will support organizations that provide benefits to retired players. But Haslam said he and Brown caught up Monday night and spent about an hour together.
“I think we’ve established a really good relationship,” Haslam said. “I think sometime over the next two or three weeks, we’ll formalize that relationship and Jim will play the appropriate role with the Cleveland Browns. I think he feels good about it. We feel good about it, and I think rightly so. I’ve really enjoyed getting the opportunity to meet and know him, not just as the former football great player, but as a man.”
Haslam wouldn’t specify his vision for Brown because he wants to wait to make an official announcement.
“We’ll work it all out,” Haslam said. “It’s a big deal, and that’s why I want to do it right. I think in the next couple weeks we’ll announce something.”
Brown was at odds with the organization after former President Mike Holmgren removed Brown as adviser to Randy Lerner in 2010. But after Lerner sold the team to Haslam this past summer, Brown resurfaced in Cleveland and expressed his desire to become part of the new regime’s plans.
“I would love to have a role with the Browns,” Brown said in September during an alumni golf outing at Avon Oaks Country Club. “I think that’s what every ex-player would like to do most of all, to be a contributor to the success of an organization. I’m stuck with being No. 32 of the Cleveland Browns, and I can’t do anything about it. I don’t want to do anything about it.
“We are married because of that history, and if I can be a part of the development of a new winning attitude and help get some victories, man, that would be fantastic. Imagine us having a championship team here again.”
New addition sued
A North Miami Beach family is suing new Browns defensive end Desmond Bryant for damages in excess of $15,000 for allegedly trying to storm into their house last month, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Beacon Journal.
The Miami Herald first reported the filing of the lawsuit.
Bryant was arrested for criminal mischief Feb. 24 after attempting to barge through the door of Isaac Bakar’s home while intoxicated and incoherent, according to police records. Attorney Robert Fiore filed the suit Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court on behalf of Bakar and his family, who were “terrified and in great fear for their safety,” according to the complaint.
Despite the incident, Bryant signed a five-year, $34 million deal to join the Browns last week. During his introductory news conference, he expressed remorse about his behavior, which led to an arrest and an infamous police mug shot that went viral.
Haslam, however, said the Browns studied Bryant’s background and believe he won’t be a problem.
“I thought he was a standup guy, very smart, very impressive, and we feel confident he made a mistake,” Haslam said. “He said he made a mistake and he understands that’s not what is our expectations. I think not only he’s going to be a really good player, but a really good person off the field.”
Fiore told the Miami Herald the family is receiving psychological counseling because of Bryant’s actions. Bakar and his wife have three children.
Bakar, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound paving contractor, tried to hold the door shut as the 6-6, 311-pound Bryant attempted to enter the house, ripping off a handle in the process, according to the complaint. Bryant arrived at the Bakar residence after taking a cab from South Beach and thought it was his home, even though he lives in a condo in Aventura, according to police records.
Although initial reports said Bryant went to a neighbor’s house and caused a commotion, Bryant and Bakar are not neighbors. Bryant was yelling and banging on the door as officers arrived, according to police records.
Potential trade watch
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked up backup quarterback Ryan Mallett at the owners meeting but sidestepped questions about possibly trading him.
Last week, the Boston Herald reported the Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have inquired about trading for Mallett. In December, the Boston Globe tied Mallett to the Browns, and Belichick has a close relationship with new Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi.
The Browns have vowed to create competition for incumbent starting quarterback Brandon Weeden, 29, but have yet to add to the position via free agency, which began March 12. Haslam and coach Rob Chudzinski said the competition could come from players on the roster now or someone who has yet to join the Browns.
The Patriots picked Mallett, 24, in the third round (No. 74 overall) of the 2011 draft. Stuck behind Tom Brady, he has attempted only four passes in the regular season.
“I think Ryan improved a lot last year,” Belichick said. “I think he really had a good season. I think he was obviously, like every player that came out in the ’11 draft was slowed by the lack of preparation heading into the season [because of the NFL lockout]. But last year, I thought he really performed well.”
What about other teams possibly trying to trade for the 6-6, 245-pound Mallett?
“I couldn’t comment on that,” Belichick said. “I’m glad he plays for our team.”
Here are some topics Chudzinski addressed at the owners meeting:
• Chudzinski said he’ll attend the team’s private workout with West Virginia University’s Geno Smith, the top-rated quarterback in this year’s draft, which runs April 25-27. The Browns have the sixth overall pick.
• Chudzinski said whoever is on the roster, including Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis, would get to compete, and he has no time table set for naming a starter. When asked if the Browns can win with the quarterbacks they have now, Chudzinski said, “A lot of that is going to get determined as you get out on the field.”
• Former Browns quarterback Derek Anderson was an option for the Browns in free agency, but he re-signed with the Carolina Panthers, who employed Chudzinski as their offensive coordinator the past two seasons. “At that particular time, [signing Anderson] just wasn’t the right thing for us to do,” Chudzinski said.
• Chudzinski also said signing outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves via free agency will “not necessarily” preclude the Browns from drafting a pass rusher.
• Chudzinski said he believes Josh Gordon has the potential to evolve into a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. “Josh is a talented guy,” Chudzinski said. “He has all the tools to be a solid No. 1 receiver in this league.” He also complimented receiver Greg Little for his ability to play in the slot or on the outside. Still, he conceded adding a veteran to the team’s young receiving corps would be ideal.
Here are some topics Haslam addressed:
• When asked if the Browns could trade up from No. 6 in the draft, Haslam said, “I think that’s doubtful.”
• The Browns might participate in a TV show again, like Travel Channel’s NFL Road Tested, but Haslam said they won’t sign up for HBO’s Hard Knocks. “I think it interferes with your basic football operations,” he said.
• Haslam said he hopes to make enhancements to FirstEnergy Stadium by 2014, but nothing major will be done before then.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.