A day before the Cleveland Browns opened their 2013 preseason schedule, the team announced that they will honor Jim Brown at the Oct. 3 Thursday Night game against the Buffalo Bills.
Fine. Dandy. Jim Brown was the best running back to ever play the game. He’s a living legend. He wore orange and brown. He won titles. It can be argued that his tenure with the Browns was the only time the team was relevant in the NFL.
That was also almost 50 years ago. Most photos were still black and white
Anyway, back to the actual ceremony. Why, exactly, are the Browns doing this? Let’s look to the press release.
BEREA, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns on Oct. 3 will honor one of the most extraordinary athletes in sports history, the organization announced Wednesday.
OK, but WHY?
That evening, when the team hosts the Buffalo Bills in a showcase Thursday night contest on national television, the legendary Jim Brown will return to Cleveland to be properly recognized by his only NFL team in a fitting tribute. The event figures to be among the most singular memories in the team’s rich timeline.
Oh man, is the Browns timeline that depressing that a halftime ceremony is among the most singular memories? Heaven forbid, those memories are, you know, actual wins or championships.
"We are absolutely thrilled to formally honor Jim Brown, the greatest running back in the history of the NFL,” said Owner Jimmy Haslam. “Jim is synonymous with the Cleveland Browns. He has an undeniable place in our history and we look forward to celebrating him appropriately on Oct. 3."
Agreed 100 percent, Mr. Halsam. Browns fans love that Jim Brown did his thing in Cleveland. It’s a source of pride. His off-field transgressions, not so much. But all those yards and touchdowns were really cool!
“When Jimmy Haslam invited me to do this, I was flattered,” Brown said. “That night will be about family, about joining together with the city, the region, and the greatest fans in all the NFL, in a celebration of the Cleveland Browns. I’m thrilled about the opportunity.”
Wait, I think we’ve found a “why.” Three years ago, Brown boycotted the Ring of Honor ceremony, which was the brainchild of former team president Mike Holmgren. In a letter Brown wrote to Holmgren that was obtained by the Plain Dealer, Brown said he won't attend the ceremony because he “doesn’t need validation.”
But now that Brown is back in town as a special advisor, time to send the validation (and checks) his way, eh?
As for the rest of the release on the upcoming valida..., er, celebration…
One of the most storied figures in the annals of American spectator sports, the Pro Football Hall of Famer finished his career with 12,312 rushing yards and one of the top per-carry averages (5.2) ever established by a running back.
Dominating his era unlike any player in NFL history, Brown commanded immediate respect as a Browns rookie in 1957, when he began his career-long streak of nine consecutive Pro Bowls. Brown garnered three Associated Press MVPs and guided his team to the postseason four times, including three berths in the league championship and the 1964 world title.
A first-team All-Pro on eight occasions, he incredibly led the NFL in rushing during eight of his nine NFL seasons, and left the game as the franchise’s all-time career leader in rushing yards, attempts and touchdowns.
No other Browns player has worn his iconic No. 32 since his retirement in 1965, when he earned the last of his NFL MVP awards.
An All-American at Syracuse, Brown received the NFL’s Rookie of the Year honor in 1957, when he registered his first of 58 career 100-yard games.
Brown re-joined the Browns as special advisor on May 29.
OK, OK, cynicism aside, the dude was a bad-ass when he played. What he did in his sadly shortened career is still impressive and far out ranks the game’s other top backs like Barry Sanders, Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
It will be a cool opportunity for those at the Thursday night game to again celebrate one of the all-time greats, who was also one of our all-time greats.
And since it’s a night game, said fans’ inhibitions should be pretty lax by the time the ceremony gets underway. Expect loud cheers to reign down on Mr. Brown for the national audience to see.
Say, those Browns fans are a “classy, non-bottle throwing bunch.”
Validations for everyone!