AVON, Ohio (AP) — Two years after a messy breakup with the team he led to its last NFL championship, the team he gave everything he to for nine seasons and the team he left at the peak of his playing career, Jim Brown wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.
"I am forever a Cleveland Brown," he said.
And the Browns are forever him.
The Hall of Fame running back, who had been estranged from the Browns' organization after he was relieved of his duties as a senior adviser, attended an alumni golf outing Friday with some of his former teammates. Before teeing off, Brown spoke for nearly 30 minutes with his usual candor and directness.
Walking better than he has in years and finally pain free following two hip replacements, the legendary 76-year-old opened up on a number of topics.
As always, Brown had plenty to say and he didn't hold back.
Brown hopes to work again for the Browns and said he'll meet Saturday with incoming owner Jimmy Haslam III, who recently purchased the Browns for $1 billion from Randy Lerner. Brown wants to have an impact on some of Cleveland's young players and feels he can help the Browns accelerate their turnaround.
"I would love to have a role with the Browns," said Brown, who was accompanied by his wife, Monique. "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.
"If you didn't like the ball, that's one thing. You're not going to always like my politics, but we are married because of that 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. Imagine us having a championship team here again?"
Brown is looking forward to meeting with Haslam, the truck-stop magnate whose purchase is expected to be approved next month at the owner's meetings.
"What an opportunity to be able to sit down with him," said Brown, whose main reason for coming back to Cleveland was to help induct former teammate Ernie Green into the Browns' legends club. "He can express himself and I can express myself. It's a beautiful thing."
Brown's departure from the Browns was anything but beautiful.
Two years ago, Brown was informed by team president Mike Holmgren — at the urging of Lerner — that his role with the team was being diminished. What followed was a nasty spat that included angry letters, public posturing and Brown boycotting a halftime ceremony in 2010 when the Browns unveiled a ring of honor at their stadium.
This week, Holmgren reached out to Brown with the hope that they could meet and talk through any differences. Brown said he appreciated Holmgren's gesture and was anxious to sit down with Holmgren.
"We didn't have a much of a confrontation," Brown said. "It's that respect is always important among all of us."
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