Jim Brown won't attend ceremony
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown does not plan to attend the Cleveland Browns' first-ever ring of honor ceremony at the team's home opener on Sept. 19, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.
"He won't be able to make it," said his wife, Monique Brown, according to the report. "He tried to move a few things around [his schedule], but wasn't able to."
The initial honored players will be the 16 Browns enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Canton. The seven living honorees and their families have been invited to the unveiling. The Browns have not directly heard from Brown that he will not be attending, according to the report.
But a source close to Brown said the Hall of Famer has been stung by two developments since losing his formal role as a team adviser, according to the report. Those are the team ending its funding of Brown's Amer-I-Can program and a lack of contact from owner Randy Lerner since Brown was stripped of his role as an executive adviser and left the team.
"I'm afraid we've seen the last of Jim Brown around here," the source said, according to the report.
Brown, who is still considered by many the greatest running back in NFL history despite his records being surpassed, had played a visible role with the Browns since the franchise was restored in 1999 as an expansion team. But he lost his title shortly after Mike Holmgren was named team president in January.
Holmgren offered Brown a reduced role at a lower salary, which Brown declined. But he offered to make himself available to the team and did so on two occasions. He took part in the NFL draft at the league's request and addressed the team's rookies for coach Eric Mangini.
Holmgren is expected to announce formal plans for the ring of honor later this week. The names of Cleveland's football elite will be inscribed on the upper deck facing in the stadium, the first acknowledgment of those stars inside the seating bowl.
At Holmgren's previous two NFL stops, Green Bay and Seattle, the teams have similar honorary rings.
"I'm kind of surprised it hadn't been here before," he said Monday. "I love it and I'm glad we can do it."
Holmgren didn't offer any details but said there are plans for a weeklong celebration for the former Browns to be honored at the opener.
"We will do it right," said Holmgren, who also plans to bring back the team's Legends program, which honored past players but was suspended last year.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.