Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown still has a pretty nice stiff arm.
Brown, considered the greatest Brown of them all, informed Cleveland president Mike Holmgren that he will not attend the Sept. 19 ceremony when the team unveils its new ring of honor.
Brown is one of 16 Hall of Famers to be inducted in the ring during halftime of the team’s home opener against Kansas City. Brown’s decision to skip the event stems from Holmgren removing him as an adviser to owner Randy Lerner. Holmgren, who took over the Browns in December, offered the legendary player a reduced role with the team, a position that Brown declined.
On Monday, Brown sent a letter to Holmgren that was obtained by The Plain Dealer. In it, Brown says he had no formal contract as an adviser with the Browns, and he believes his agreement with Lerner was violated because a clause in it stated he would answer to no one but the owner.
”Your ultimatum to me was that you would offer me the opportunity of being that of the greeter, that of a mascot, that of a person that would represent special events by his physical presence, and for those things, I would receive a salary of $100,000,” Brown wrote. ”All of those things that you offered me would be controlled by you.”
The 74-year-old Brown said he returned to his office, feeling as if he had been fired. Brown said he refrained from making his situation a ”public debate.” He said he wrote a note to Holmgren and Lerner explaining why he would not accept the proposed position.
Last week, Holmgren announced plans for the ring of honor at a news conference where he was joined by Hall of Famers Paul Warfield and Joe DeLamielleure, who sat at both sides of the team president. Brown said he studied the press conference and came away with a few impressions.
”Your most powerful statement about me was that, and I must laugh, one monkey don’t stop the show,” Brown wrote.
Holmgren never made such a comment, saying he hoped Brown would join his fellow Hall of Famers for a deserved honor.
”I trust Jim will be there and I hope he’s there because he is a part of this,” Holmgren said. ”He’s part of the history of this place, a big part of it. Any way it comes down, it’s going to be a wonderful day. It’s going to be a celebration … It’s going to be a great celebration for all of us and the 16 families on that day and I trust he will be part of it.”
Brown said he was pleased DeLamielleure brought up the need for a better pension plan in the NFL, and urged Holmgren to join him in pushing for both a ”better pension plan and health care services for all the retired players. If you, in your position of tremendous power with the Cleveland Browns, would become an advocate of those two goals, you and I could walk side by side.”
Brown concluded his letter by saying, ”I’ve never danced in the end zone, I always gave the ball to the referee, so you should know I don’t dance. … I don’t claim to be the best at anything, and I emphatically do not need validation from any man, so I will not participate in your Ring of Honor. Mike, there’s only one thing that I control in life, and that’s being a man.”