Jim Brown, arguably the greatest Browns player of all time, does not plan to participate in the club’s inaugural Ring of Honor ceremony at the home opener Sept. 19.
The Browns have been holding off an announcement of the creation of the Ring of Honor until the proposed inductees in the first class, or family members, confirmed their attendance. The first class will be made up of the Browns’ 16 Pro Football Hall of Famers.
The Browns have not heard directly from Brown that he will not attend.
“He won’t be able to make it,” said Monique Brown, Jim’s wife, speaking for him. “He tried to move a few things around [his schedule], but wasn’t able to.”
The profound snub speaks to the suddenly frosty relations between the franchise and its greatest player. Brown had been very visible since the franchise returned in 1999 and was named an executive adviser to owner Randy Lerner a few years ago with a six-figure salary.
Brown had the title removed by Mike Holmgren shortly after Holmgren joined the Browns as team president in January. Holmgren offered a reduced role for Brown, and a pay cut, but Brown declined.
At the time, Brown said he would make himself available to the Browns if he were called. He participated in the team’s draft in New York — at the request of the NFL — and also answered a call from coach Eric Mangini to speak to the club’s rookies.
Brown was informed of the club’s intent to create a Ring of Honor several months ago. He was non-committal about attending. But two things have stung him, said a source close to him. The Browns curtailed their financial involvement in Brown’s Amer-I-Can program, and Brown has not heard from Lerner since their parting.
“I’m afraid we’ve seen the last of Jim Brown around here,” said the source.
The Browns are expected to formally unveil plans for their Ring of Honor this week. Their show will go on.
Browns Legends: The Browns Legends program is back after a one-year hiatus.
The streamlined program has two major changes. The number of inductees each year is reduced from four to two. Also, the inductees don’t have to come from separate eras in the team’s history.
A third change is that fans will not have the opportunity to cast votes on the Browns’ team website. In the past, the fan vote counted a small percentage of the overall vote.
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