After a nasty breakup, hall of fame running back Jim Brown and the Browns are officially back together.
The Browns will announce Brown’s new role with the organization during a news conference at 10:45 a.m. today at FirstEnergy Stadium. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Brown are scheduled to attend.
“We’re excited to have him back a part of us,” Browns CEO Joe Banner told reporters Tuesday during a news conference in which the team announced Bon Jovi will perform July 14 in a “Fan Kickoff Concert” at the stadium. “It’s important to me because he’s clearly in the top couple, if not the single most important part of the history of the franchise, and it’s the right thing to do.”
Former and current players agree Brown is back where he belongs.
“It’s exciting,” former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar told reporters. “It’s great. I think the influence he can have on some of the younger kids and some of the younger players is great.”
“With everything that is moving in the right direction, it’s only right to bring Jim Brown back,” Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told reporters. “It’s the perfect time for it because he did a lot when he was here, just his presence alone for a young guy, to be able to have a conversation with him, I was in awe after being around him for three years.”
In March at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix, Haslam said Brown would rejoin the franchise in an official capacity.
“I think we’ve established a really good relationship,” Haslam said March 19. … “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.”
There was bad blood between Brown, 77, and the franchise after former President Mike Holmgren removed Brown as adviser to Randy Lerner in 2010. But after Haslam bought the team from Lerner last year, Brown expressed his desire to become part of the new regime’s future. In September, he and Haslam discussed a formal reunion.
“I would love to have a role with the Browns,” Brown said Sept. 21 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.”
Another lawsuit filed
Another trucking company filed a class-action lawsuit against Haslam’s family business, Pilot Flying J, which is at the center of an ongoing federal investigation into an alleged fraud scheme, according to reports.
Mike Campbell of Holmes County, Miss., filed the suit last week. It accuses Pilot Flying J of cheating trucking-company customers out of tens of millions of dollars they were owed in the form of contractually set price rebates since 2005.
The FBI and Internal Revenue Service raided Pilot Flying J’s headquarters April 15 in Knoxville, Tenn. No charges have been filed. Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J, has insisted he wasn’t aware of any fraud being committed by his company.
The Detroit Lions claimed former Browns quarterback Thaddeus Lewis off waivers. … The Browns resumed organized team activities Tuesday. The team will hold its final practice of OTAs Friday, with Thursday’s session open to the media. The Browns will then conduct their mandatory minicamp June 4-6.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.